The National Literary Trust has published new research showing that creative writing can have a positive impact on how a child performs at school.
The report, Writing for Enjoyment and its Link to Wider Reading, surveyed over 39,000 pupils between 8 and 18 throughout the UK on their enjoyment of writing, and how writing enjoyment related to their wider writing engagement. Creative writing, for the purposes of the study, was loosely defined as “writing at least one of the following formats once a month: fiction, poetry, letters, a diary, song lyrics, reviews or essays”.
Roughly every 1 in 5 children said that they enjoy writing “very much”, while nearly a third reported that they enjoy writing “quite a lot”, together resulting in over half (50.7%) confirming a positive attitude to creative writing. This figure is an increase from 2016 (44.8%), with writing enjoyment levels being at their highest since the Trust first starting surveying in 2010.
The survey did find a gender divide, with 57.9% of girls enjoying writing either very much or quite a lot, compared with 42.1% of boys, the gap between boys and girls remaining “largely the same across different age groups”. Age however is a factor across the board, with three times as many children aged 8 to 11 saying that they enjoy writing very much, compared with their peers aged 14 to 16 (36.5% vs. 11.1%). Overall, nearly twice as many children aged 8 to 11 as those aged 14 to 16 said that they enjoy writing either very much or quite a lot (69.6% vs. 36.9%).
The Trust also looks at how the uptake of Free School Meals (FSM) affected writing attitudes, with more boys on FSMs saying that they enjoy writing than boys not on FSMs (48.9% vs. 41.4%). Interestingly, no such difference was found to exist for girls.
The data showed that children who enjoy writing “are more motivated to write by intrinsic reasons (such as believing that writing is cool) and achievement (for example believing that writing will help them learn more), and are less likely to write for approval (for example writing because they have to or because they will get into trouble if they don’t write)”.
There was also a clear relationship between writing enjoyment and writing attainment: “While most children and young people write at the expected level for their age regardless of whether or not they enjoy writing, seven times as many children and young people who enjoy writing write above the expected level for their age compared with those who don’t enjoy writing (23.2% vs. 3.2%).”
Although the report doesn’t detail ways to affect your child’s attitude to writing, it does suggest that many forms of creative writing should be encouraging, from poetry and lyrics, to blogging and online reviews, to simply texting and tweeting. The simple message is to encourage writing in any form, and not necessarily in the good old-fashioned, pen to paper way.