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Even in this digital age, writing is still an essential skill, and very often one of life’s simple pleasures. Yet since kids are often more likely to pick up a smartphone or tablet than a pen and paper getting pupils enthused about writing by hand can be a challenge.

The National Literacy Trust (NLT) argues that helping children develop a love of writing is important for their academic success – and has presented research to back up this point of view.

According to the group’s new study, children who enjoy writing outside the classroom are 7x more likely to write above the expected level for their age, compared with youngsters who don’t enjoy writing. Similarly, children are twice as likely to write above their expected level if they write creatively outside school.

Yet half of pupils were found to not enjoy writing away from the classroom. Furthermore, half admitted they can’t decide what to write, regardless of whether they enjoy it or not, while 1 in 3 struggle with spelling and grammar. Jonathan Douglas, Director of the NLT, believes that ‘far too many’ pupils still don’t enjoy writing and is concerned this is ‘holding them back from reaching their full potential.’

So what can teachers do to stimulate an interest in this vital skill in the classroom?

Showcase different types of writing
Many pupils might associate hard copies of writing with dry and underwhelming textbooks, so it’s worth making sure they are exposed to many different styles. Poems and short stories, for instance, could be sufficiently stimulating to inspire youngsters to try to find their own voice and express it on paper.

Give pupils a platform to show off their work
Children could be inspired to create their best work if they feel they have a chance to present it to others. Teachers could therefore base show and tell sessions around written work, or post some of their pupils’ best writing on the school or class website. Making work accessible in this way also gives students the chance to hear feedback from their peers and see how people respond to their work. This could potentially prove invaluable in honing their writing skills in the future.

Run writing-based competitions
Competitions that promise a tangible reward can be highly motivating, so teachers might find creative writing contests very productive. Again, it encourages children to put pen to paper and put the results of their work in front of others, as well as critically judge what their peers have come up with. Prizes could be fun items that help them to take their burgeoning interest in writing a step further, such as novelty pens and other useful stationery items such as rubbers, rulers, pencil cases or desk tidies.

Be aware of who’s enjoying it and who isn’t
The NLT study revealed girls are more likely to enjoy writing than boys, with this gap getting wider as children get older. Figures also showed that eight to 11-year-olds tend to enjoy writing more than 14 to 16-year-olds, which again suggests that young people’s passion for this activity wanes over time. Teachers therefore need to be mindful of who is embracing writing and who isn’t. This could be vital if they wish to consistently present writing as a rewarding, fun and engaging pursuit, as well as something that could be vital in later life


Sources / Further Reading
We launch new writing research for National Writing Day National Literacy Trust