A recent study by the National Trust Literacy has suggested that children who write for pleasure produce class work that is seven times better than the expected level for their age group.
However, the same research indicates that, while enthusiasm for writing has risen since 2015, 45% of pupils don’t actually enjoy writing in their free time.
Our education consultant Alastair Fielden offers the following tips for encouraging children who aren’t naturally inclined to pick up their pen:
Activities that involve children sharing ideas in small groups can be very beneficial for stimulating their imagination and generating vocabulary. One exercise that can be effective is to show children an unusual object and have them ask and answer questions such as “What is its name?”, “What has it seen on its journey?”, and “How does it eat or drink?”
Because children and young people are exposed daily to media, try to incorporate visualisation techniques. Guide pupils to imagine a scene and what happens in it; present images and sounds to create an atmosphere, or show short adverts that make good use of words, image and tone of voice to persuade so they can make up their own. Remember those adverts from a well-known high street store? This is not just any writing exercise…
Use graphic novels
Graphic novels make a perfect storyboard as they have a set structure in which the content is sequenced. Blank or partially-filled comic-style templates can be used as a guide for pupils to fill in the sequence of events. This does not have to be used for a story, it can be used to sequence and describe factual information on places or even physical geography. I would recommend using graphic-novel-style apps on a computer or iPad for pupils who might find physical drawing difficult, and use ready-created images to start.
Applications such as WordQ and Speak (which can be accessed here) offer Word Prediction and spelling support which is helpful for pupils with good ideas but who lack confidence in spelling or who have specific difficulties in this area.
There are many ways to support children when writing doesn’t come naturally to them and it is vital to continually encourage them and break down the barriers that might stop them from reaching their full potential.