My son, a kindergarten student, hates homework. It is a terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad time of day. He moans, he groans, he sighs, he makes excuses. Is he a reluctant writer?
Alex is reluctant to write sentences with his high frequency “popcorn” words, but he will eagerly grab paper and a pencil to create writing of his own creation, for his own purposes and audiences.
Just the other day, he asked me how to spell “Dear Diary.” I have no idea where he learned about diaries, but when he lost his favorite putty he felt compelled to make a diary entry.
He followed up with another diary entry:
Last week, during the spring vacation, we visited the aquarium. Alex wanted to create a book about the experience. He dictated and I typed, adding in images from the day. You can read the book here. The last piece of writing I want to mention is a note Alex wrote for the Easter Bunny, carefully written and folded inside a plastic egg: “Can I have a dog?” (As no dog is planned, this broke my heart- another effective use of writing.)
These recent writings of Alex reveal to me what he understands about writing:
- Writers write for real reasons.
- Writers write for themselves and for others.
- Writers write about their lives, like a day at the aquarium.
- Writers write to remember.
- Writers try to persuade through their writing.
- Writing might bring a change you want or need.
I taught kindergarten for ten years before becoming a third grade teacher. I always felt kindergarten teachers had a very challenging task as writing teachers because not only are they teaching all the foundational writing skills (how to form letters, the sounds letters make, the difference between a letter and a word, representational drawings, etc.), they are teaching young children what it means to be a writer in the world. Not only how we write, but why we write.
As a kindergarten student, my son still needs to learn when to use uppercase and lowercase letters, the proper formation of some letters, and strengthen his letter/sound correspondence. He needs to learn how to spell his high frequency words with automaticity. But is he a writer? I think of how he runs to get paper and pencil, makes cards and signs, books and diary entries, and I say, yes- yes, he is a writer and there’s nothing reluctant about it.