These days, creative writing has fallen to the wayside in schools around the world. Because of rigorous new standardized testing rules and teachers’ general lack of time to dedicate to the subject, kids are no longer being challenged to find their creative sides in the classroom.
But by excluding creative writing from schools, children are missing out on a ton of great benefits, both mentally and physically. We found five incredible reasons for teachers and parents alike to start encouraging their kids to do more creative writing outside the classroom. Take a look:
- It removes the constraints of standardized testing curriculum
Teachers and parents around the world have lamented the effects of schools’ new “teaching to the test” model, and many teachers have complained that the new standardized curriculum isn’t giving them enough time to dedicate to subjects like creative writing.
A Texas teacher found that the standardized testing system in her state limited students to only 26 lines of writing — and an admonition to “stay inside the box,” an instruction she found ironic for a creative writing test. But students all over the United States are facing directions such as these, with curriculum that doesn’t encourage writing nor creative thinking.
A 2015 study of U.S. middle schools by the Education Trust found that less than 10 percent of assignments required writing longer than a single paragraph, and nearly 20 percent of assignments required no writing at all. The study also found that only 1 percent of assignments required students to think for extended periods of time in order to plan and carefully draft and revise their writing.
By encouraging writing outside the classroom, parents and teachers can remove these strict constraints and let children write what they want to — even if it’s outside the box.
- In the age of emojis, writing helps kids communicate ideas more effectively
With cell phones and tablets being handed to kids at younger ages than ever, it’s not hard to see how they might start losing the skills needed to communicate efficiently as they grow older.
In this new age of social media and instant messaging, our vocabulary is constantly changing. In fact, some even believe that the emoji is the fastest growing language in the UK. If children are growing up in an environment where the use of the emoji is more common than the use of real grammar, the effects could be damaging for real-world communication.
Luckily, writing regularly has proven to be highly effective in helping people improve their communication skills. If children can find time to write on a regular basis, we can eliminate the fear of them losing the ability to communicate effectively.
- Writing helps kids do better in science and math learning
For those who think kids should be focusing more on math and science skills due to the boom of new STEM jobs like coding, it may be surprising to learn that multiple studies have shown that writing actually helps the brain develop the logical functions required for successful math and science learning.
According to brain research, “writing can illuminate sequential procedures that students need to learn in mathematics and science, from factoring an equation to the photosynthetic chemical process.”
Though standardized tests are putting an emphasis on science and mathematics, parents can rest easy knowing that when their children are practicing writing in their spare time, they’re also helping themselves improve those math and science skills that are being emphasized by schools.
- Creative writing helps kids process stress and trauma
Nearly 35 million children have experienced some type of trauma during childhood, the effects of which can last a lifetime. But by introducing creative writing into these children’s lives, they can learn to process stressful or traumatic events in a healthy way while recovering from these events faster.
Even the world-famous author JK Rowling has recognized the effects of creative writing on mental health. The children’s author famously wrote the very first Harry Potter book in her early ‘30s while struggling with clinical depression, raising a newborn baby, and a volatile marriage, but has stated that her writing was a huge factor in carrying her through that difficult period.
A study on the emotional and physical health benefits of expressive writing found that just 15 to 20 minutes of writing a day was enough to make a difference in the overall stress levels of participants, which is helpful for students who are in stressful environments or even simply stressed due to standardized testing pressures.
- Writing improves reading ability, too
Writing and reading go hand in hand, but that doesn’t always mean that we’re good at doing both. However, a 2010 study by the Carnegie Corporation called Writing to Readfound incredible evidence that writing can also dramatically improve reading ability.
The authors discovered that “combining reading and writing instruction by having students write about what they read, explicitly teaching them the skills and processes that go into creating text, and increasing the amount of writing they do results in increased reading comprehension as well as improved writing skills.”
For students who may feel shy or are struggling to read, practicing this combination of reading and writing outside of the classroom could prove to be extremely valuable.
Creating a brighter future for kids through creative writing
With all of these benefits, it’s more clear than ever that creative writing can have an incredibly positive impact on a child. As writing becomes more limited in the classroom, it’s crucial that we ensure our children don’t miss out on these valuable benefits by taking active steps to encourage their children to write creatively outside of the classroom.
Whether it’s simply putting aside half an hour of time a few days per week to sit down and put pen to paper, or use an online platform to write and share their stories, we can help our kids grow, learn and write in a way that appeals to their peers — not just their teachers.
About the Author
Sandy Oreo is a secondary school teacher based out of Brisbane, Australia, a mother of one and Founder of Little Writer, the new online platform allowing kids to publish and share their creative writing online. Her passion is helping foster children’s interest in writing, reading and language, and assisting them with becoming published authors, as well as developing ways for teachers to motivate their students to write. You can connect with Sandy at www.LittleWriter.io.