A few weeks ago while home on a typical work-at-home-day with my lively toddler (and big brother off to school), I had one of those unsettling parenting moments. You know, the ones when you're engrossed in washing dishes, doing laundry, or browsing Facebook, and you don't hear the crash of trucks or the roaring of dinosaurs from the other room. That moment when all you hear is silence. Taking a deep breath, I walked quickly from the kitchen through the office into the playroom. There he stood, stripped down to his diaper, ball point pen in hand! Proudly, with both arms opened wide, and looking up at me with those big, beautiful, brown eyes he announced, "Ta-Da!".
He ran over to the corner of the room to show me his masterpiece. He was pleased with himself as he showed me his writing on the built-in bookshelves and the hydrangea blue walls. It was all I could do not to giggle. It was most definitely not a time to scold or squash his enthusiasm. It was a time to remind him that we use pens on paper not on walls, and we proceeded to find the Magic Eraser.
Have you heard of the Magic Eraser? I hadn't until a friend told me about this magical invention after the debut of our little wall artist and writer when he was just entering toddlerhood! This handy sponge-like invention should be part of every baby registry, in my opinion! My first son was never able to express his creativity quite in this way due to a physical disability, so I was late in learning about the Magic Eraser. Knowing we had some magic on the basement shelves made it easier to keep my cool and focus on all that was wonderful in this moment!
Magic Erasers aside, how could I be upset with my budding artist and writer when I had encouraged it from the start. You may have read the same recommendations I had: Provide all sorts of writing materials from as early as 18 months; let your child see you writing; celebrate the process, don't focus on the product; listen to what your child tells you about his writing; let her write in different settings; and on it goes.
So that's what we've been doing. We write in the sand at the beach. We write in the condensation on the bathroom window when it's "potty time" (old house=low Victorian windows). We write on the driveway with sidewalk chalk. We write lists, lots of lists. We write the letters of our names and notice them in words at the grocery store, in the kitchen, on signs, and yes, in BOOKS!
Literacy, as we know, is about more than reading. It involves listening, speaking, and writing, too! We try to follow our sons' leads and readiness to learn more about letters, words, and this writing thing. And in this family of educators, readers, list-makers, and occasional writers, this tiny writer's early attempts at writing, discovering cause and effect, and exerting his independence are cause for celebration!
About the Author
I am a mom to two sweet and lively boys and live in Santa Barbara, California. My oldest has Cornelia deLange Syndrome. He fuels my passion for advocating for equity and inclusion wherever I go. I love the power of a good story to inspire, educate, and make change in our world.