“My whip has magic in it and turns you into a toilet!” – Child, Teacher Tom’s Class
A few days ago, I saw a blog posted on Twitter about superhero and weapon play. It was an insightful post that got me thinking about the difficulty of negotiating philosophies that might differ between parents and caregivers.
Or had you even thought about the need to have a policy for a seemingly natural part of a child’s existence. Do you think it’s necessary?
With recent violence in schools, especially all of the shootings, it makes sense that our awareness as parents and caregivers would be heightened. We’re more sensitive to the children’s behaviors we observe, wondering if that type of play is indicative of “real world” behavior as they grow into adults. Is early childhood the time to begin teaching right vs. wrong, boundaries and respect? Most would agree, yes! Is superhero and weapon play the right time to interfere? There are differing opinions.
Based on a quick google search, I wanted to share some of the articles and posts, some of which argue superhero and weapon play are necessary parts of a child’s play and therefore development. Below are some phrases to indicate what the posts were about and might get us thinking about how to handle this topic. Most of these phrases or variations of them come from these three articles and posts:
- The Value of Superhero Play, Extract from the magazine Putting Children First
- The Shape of the Block in My Hand by Teacher Tom
- Gun Play by Teacher Tom
Positive Words Associated with Superhero and Weapon Play
- Release tensions
- Rule Making
- Support Physical Development
- Experiment with Power Control over Their World
- Common Interests with Peers
Phrases Associated with Common Concerns for Caregivers
- Not Gender Inclusive
- Noise Risk of Accidents
- Children May Hurt Each Other
- Other Children Don’t Like It
- Opposite of Peaceful Play
- Violent Play
- Lack of Control
Phrases Associated with Supporting Superhero and Weapon Play in Group Settings
- Help Facilitate
- Clear Guidelines
- Let Children Make the Rules
- Be Proactive with suggestions for conflict resolution
- Take advantage of extending learning opportunities with literacy, art, math or music
- Know the characters they are pretending to be
- Encourage focus on positive themes
- Take part, sit in the middle, engage
- Substitute “killing” with “freezing” or …
The post that got me wondering about all of this was “The Two Separate Issues of Superhero Play and Weapon Play.” While many seem to conflate the two, Cindy Terebush draws a distinct line and believes that once a child walks into Kindergarten, they should leave their weapon play at home. How do you handle this? Do you have a no weapon/superhero play policy?
Please share your thoughts in the comments. Friendly Reminder to be respectful of our community and our differing opinions.
Barnes, H. (2008). The Value of Superhero Play. Putting Children First, 15-21.
Ministry of Education. (2009, July 9). Superhero or Weapons Play. Retrieved from Early Childhood Education ECE Lead: http://www.lead.ece.govt.nz/ManagementInformation/GoverningAndManaging/
Two Separate Issues of Superhero Play and Weapon Play. Retrieved from Helping Kids Achieve with Cindy Terebush: http://cindyterebush.blogspot.com/2014/01/the-two-separate-issues-of-superhero.html
Tom, T. (2011, March 28). Gun Play. Retrieved from Teacher Toms Blog: http://teachertomsblog.blogspot.com/2011/03/gun-play.html
Tom, T. (2013, February 2). The Shape of the Block in My Hand. Retrieved from Teacher Toms Blog: http://teachertomsblog.blogspot.com/2013/02/the-shape-of-block-in-my-hand.html
Additional Resources and Information
- NAEYC – Gun and Superhero Play Resource List – Articles, websites and books that NAEYC recommends
- Superhero and weapon play Policy Google Search – Many policies are in PDF form so this is the best way to share. There is a variety including policies in which superhero and weapon play are allowed and some with zero tolerance
- Rethinking Superhero and Weapon Play
- We don't play with guns here: War, Weapon and Superhero Play in the Early Years (Debating Play)