I was first made aware of Dekko comics back in September, initially I was unsure how I felt about the concept of an educational comic. On the one hand, they are everything I want, my favourite format trying to help readers gain a greater understanding of a concept. On the other hand, it could be my favourite format possibly falling into the trap of trying to make learning “cool” or act like it wasn’t trying to teach, a bit like the uncle who wants you to think of him as a mate instead of a family member. Thankfully, my fears were completely suppressed when I laid my eyes on the comics Dekko sent me.
On first glance, the comics are vibrant and full of some quirky but brilliant visuals. Immediately, my mind was cast back to my childhood reading the Beano & Dandy, but not in a way that felt like a blatant rip off, more a homage. Each comic has a back cover that shows what subjects will be covered in the issue, along with the specific topics they will be addressing. Prior to seeing them, I had quite naively assumed that the comics would just focus on English and particularly grammar. However, I was hugely impressed to see that each comic covers a wide range of subjects and topics that can support learning across the breadth of the curriculum.
After having a brief flick through the comics, I started to explore them in more depth and think about how I could use them in not just my class but across the school. It didn’t take long to realise that they would be effective from Y3-Y6. In fact, one of the strips showed the process of the circulatory system, which we had done ourselves, earlier in year 6. Having the Dekko version at the time would have really helped some of my students who were struggling to represent the concept, the visual reminder and representation would have made it clearer for them, along with offering a chance to recap things they had forgotten.
For every comic in an issue, there is key vocabulary underlined and the words are written at the bottom of the page. On some pages, such as one on homonyms, it shows you how the words differ to each other in order to help develop understanding. These little touches allow the comic to pack in maximum information and embed the key elements of each topic on every single page. Prior to reading them, I hadn’t thought about such simple techniques being used but as soon as I saw them it made so much sense (and made me feel daft for being so shocked by its efficiency!).
Now I am not claiming that Dekko comics are about to make everyone who reads them or uses them an academic genius. But, they are a brilliantly thought out range of texts that have the potential to support classes across the curriculum and across KS2. Each issue covers a range of subjects and topics that will fit with the curriculum in most schools and could be used in a variety of ways to enhance or support learning. In some cases, it could be a simple visual reminder or explanation that children use or have on the working wall. In other cases, they could be used as inspiration for work or a building block for children to add to or extend. Either way, they are a purposeful tool that I genuinely believe has a place in every school. As I say, they aren’t the answer for every single lesson but nothing ever is and that is the key here. You buy them to support when appropriate, but I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised by just how often that actually is. For some children, this may be the support that helps them to finally comprehend a topic or understand a nuance. From the four issues I have read and explored I cannot recommend Dekko comics enough, they are a friendly company that is focusing on supporting learning first instead of prioritising making money.