Real Language at Work

Writing in Kindergarten
Devon Hamner

I think we need to value all kinds of communication and widen our view of writing. Some communicate through drama, story-telling, pictures, art forms, writing in all its forms. Just as I celebrate my students that write multiple sentences, I celebrate those who find expression through other means.

I want kids to be challenged, encouraged, and supported as they find ways to share their stories and not held back by teachers who feel that kindergarten kids don't have stories or are too young to find a means to share them. I'm sure you know me too well to think that I wanted anyone labeled as FAILING--or anyone pushed to do something they aren't ready to do.

I want learning to be joyful and exciting. I delight in all the ways my students choose to share their ideas and their stories. I love the boys who build wonderful creations with the blocks and make a sign that says: Dont Tuch!!!! It wil fol!!!!! They know that writing communicates and has power. I love the little girl whose dad works hours away from home and can only return on weekends who has been working on a book for him entitled: I Love Daddy--where she draws and writes about all the special times they have together and what she misses most about his absence. Each page has a picture and at least one sentence about her memories of their
times together. Some have paragraphs. I love the little girl who is just learning English who draws me beautiful pictures of the two of us surrounded by hearts. When she reads her picture to me she says shyly: "You. Me. I love you, teacher."

This is my vision of writing in kindergarten. It isn't forced. It isn't the same for every child. But it is encouraged, shared, and celebrated. Our writing center is the most popular center in the classroom. It holds lots of writing supplies. Some are taken over to the block center to make signs. Some are carried to the kitchen center to make lists, menus, notes. Others are used there to make books. There is lots of movement between the writing center and the art center as kids move back and forth to illustrate and write. Kids love to post their work with magnets on the white board. They want to read it to one another. They make cards for one another and for family members. My desk is stacked high with their love gifts to me. My paragraph writer admires the art of my drawer of hearts. They encourage one another. They may decide to do a joint project, one doing the art and one doing the writing as they plan together what to draw and what to say. But everyone considers him/herself a writer with something to say.

I don't want writing to be just teacher directed and assigned. I want it to be teacher supported and encouraged. It all has to do with the spirit of the community of learners. Yes, I may introduce some form and do a mini-lesson on it. We may do some shared writing. But it is the independent writing that makes my kids writers. It is kids communicating with one another and people that they care about that makes them writers.

It is one of the best things about kindergarten.

Devon Hamner is a Kindergarten teacher in Grand Island, Nebraska.


Thanks for visiting Share2Learn!
return to Whole Language Classrooms contents page
return to main page