All students look up to someone, regardless of whether those chosen for the pedestal are instilling good habits. As educators, we have the opportunity to provide appropriate role models for children struggling to find someone to follow who will not lead them astray. Comic Book Day is a great opportunity to provide students with heroes, to point out the successful people around them, and to show them how they can accomplish whatever they set their mind to do. Here are a few ways you can teach your students about role models and provide them with the heroes they deserve:

 

Role Models in Reading

Role models don’t have to be actual people! In fact, some of the most well-known heroes exist on the page. Celebrate Comic Book Day by bringing in comics for your students to read with upstanding heroes who put virtues on display. Whether it’s honesty, service, or integrity, point out the good characteristics of heroes as students practice early reading skills. Have students identify which character they most want to be like and what three characteristics make them consider him or her “good.”

Super Hero Values:

• They protect people.

• They fight for what’s right.

• They use brain before brawn.

• They exercise self-control.

• They exemplify constructive behavior.

• They care about other people.

 

Heroism Through Dramatic Play

Reading about heroes is a great way to understand why heroes are looked up to, but being able to act out those good deeds will go even further in solidifying good values. Encourage students to dress up as they act out what they’ve just read. This is especially important as students begin forming concepts of gender roles and what is expected of them. Putting honesty, integrity, compassion, hard work, and dependability on display is a great way to ensure social and emotional learning, which is especially important in early education as children’s’ brains are still developing and social skills are being learned and adapted.

The “Superhero Corner”

• Identify a safe, indoor place where children can dress up as superheroes and engage in limited dramatic play (and where all the children can dress up based on their interests). If you have access to a large indoor space and outdoors space, boys can engage in more active superhero play and use large motor skills.

Find superhero dramatic play options here:

 

Everyday Heroes in Classroom Discussions

Talk to your students about what it means to be a hero. It’s important for them to realize that not every hero wears a cape and that one could be sitting right in front of them. Have students list the qualities of a hero and identify anyone who fits the description in their lives. Guide the discussion toward community workers or those who sacrifice for others. (Try to steer away from entertainment icons or celebrities.)

 

Super Powers on Display

Create a superhero chart and post it on your classroom wall for everyone to see. List children who have done something special for a classmate, helped a teacher, resolved a conflict, exhibited exemplary behavior, or accomplished a goal.  Come up with a weekly superhero award for the child who has most exemplified a superhero for that week. Students will be excited to go out daily and do good deeds!

-For even more insightful suggestions on strategies for nurturing boys in an early childhood setting, check out Ruth Hanford Morhard’s Wired to Move.