New research shows children who write creatively outside of school do significantly better in the classroom.
In an effort to assess how writing enjoyment has changed over the years, along with children’s enjoyment of writing, The National Literacy Trust used data from its 2016 annual literacy survey in which 39,411 pupils aged 8 to 18 were surveyed about writing, amongst other things.
Children who enjoy writing benefit from being more confident writers, write more often and write a greater range of formats.
The report highlights how important it is to help children develop a love of writing, with children who enjoy writing outside school being seven times more likely to write above the expected level for their age compared with children who don’t (23.2% vs 3.2%).
Crucially, children who write creatively outside school are twice as likely to write above the expected level for their age compared with children who don’t (19.3% vs 7.9%).
Almost half of those surveyed (49.3%) said they don’t enjoy writing outside school.
What are the barriers to enjoyment of writing?
- Not knowing, or being able to decide upon, what to write
- Difficulties with spelling or grammar
Enjoyment of writing diminishes as children get to secondary school age and is more popular amongst girls than boys.
What are children writing?
Children who enjoy writing tend to write more fiction, letters, diaries and poems and they write at least once a month in their free time.
Of those children who don’t enjoy writing, most prefer to use technology-based formats, such as texts, instant messages and other forms of social networking.
Jonathan Douglas, Director of the National Literacy Trust, said: “Our research consistently finds that children who enjoy writing do much better at school, but it also shows that far too many pupils still don’t enjoy writing and this could be holding them back from reaching their full potential.
Creative writing is not just about language practice, it supports literacy, helps children develop their reading skills and most importantly, it is fun. It can help develop many skills. These include:
- Planning and organisation of thoughts – being able to focus on specific ideas and use the language required to write these down.
- Accuracy, precision and expression using vocabulary – which may require influencing others through written persuasion.
- Social skills and empathy – an awareness of your surroundings and being able to look at things from all sides and perspectives, not just taking everything at face value.
- Stimulating the imagination by looking at the world in a different way.
- Confidence boost – allowing children to develop a ‘voice’ through their writing.