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How Creativity Helps Kids Love Writing
Creativity turns a writing task into a fun, worthwhile experience.
By Maria Chatzi | June 24, 2018
Noone is born with a special interest in or love for writing. However, the need to communicate, to relate to one another and to the world we live in, which is the basic function of writing, is inherent to human nature. There is no child who actually hates writing, even if they insist they do. According to psychology, what they hate is the feeling of anger and frustration caused to them by meaningless, boring writing exercises and tasks repeatedly imposed onto them, by teachers and parents, to help them improve in the writing skills they have not mastered yet.
The only secret to helping kids love writing is to give them writing experiences which take away the struggle and the disappointment. The fear, pain and stress of writing can and must be replaced by excitement and a strong sense of achievement (even if this achievement is a small step in the process). And this is where creativity can help. What makes me so certain? I have done a good number of creative writing workshops for children, with primary schools and public libraries, which have been an eye-opening experience. Following is a list of what I have noticed and learnt during these workshops:
- Creativity could turn a writing task into a fun creative experience; it allows children to play and experiment with the magic and the weird, the absurd and the imaginative. This creates excitement and bliss.
- It makes writing meaningful, purposeful, by relating it to children's everyday real life situations and events; it gives them a reason to desire to write, either for themselves (e.g. when writing entries in their gardening journal) or for others (e.g. when writing their own fairy tales or fantasy fiction to entertain younger students during school events).
- It is well known that children's nature is that of an adventurous spirit; they love surprises. When the writing instructions, the writing tools and materials used, the writing space, the writing structure, or the writing technique and format (text, dialogue, cartoon bubbles, journal entry, list, etc) are unconventional and unexpected, even reluctant writers want to join in the game. Writing combined with creativity is a risk-taking game in which there are no losers.
- Creativity creates the drive in kids to write more often because they enjoy it. They become self-motivated writers who practice the writing skill, although they are not aware of this. The more children practice writing the more they improve the skill of creative thinking (clarity of thought, problem-solving, unique ideas etc). As a consequence, the better creative thinkers they become the more they love to express themselves through writing. This creates a sense of achievement. As a result, they become more self-confident and self-reliant.
- Creativity grows the learner within the writer and wins over self-sabotaging patterns of thought, like fear of failure; it helps kids believe they can do it, changing the assumption that writing is difficult.
- It connects kids to their feelings, and to whatever it is they are interested in and care about, allowing them to express and build upon these feelings and interests in their writing. It makes them feel they matter and their interests matter too; it cultivates self-worth and empowers them.
- It gives them freedom to think and make decisions about their writing experience. This fulfills children's need to know they are in control of the product of their writing experience. Creativity gives kids freedom of choice, freedom to think and express themselves any way they like (language used, materials, tools, format etc), freedom to be flexible with their written piece (they can rework, twist it and tweak it, until they feel satisfied with the final creation or throw it away and restart).
- Creativity shows kids what a powerful tool writing is, how it influences others and how it can improve one's personal life or the community's life. It gets them emotionally involved to community service through various collaborative writing activities and games. It helps them see how they can use it to learn new things and help others learn things too, how writing can create social awareness, understanding and compassion.
- Creativity cultivates in children an interest in the end product of their writing experience because they want to look good to others, to get approval and acceptance from friends and peers; it satisfies their need to belong. It makes them feel important, noticed and heard.
- Creativity also grows self-directed writers who plan and set their own writing goals. When we allow kids to, first, approach the writing experience as art, the writing itself becomes fulfilling. As soon as they get good at writing content, they feel proud of themselves and want to improve in learning the craft of writing (grammar and structure) as well; learning to master the skills of the craft naturally becomes the next step as they advance from one level of competence to another.
- Through time, children come to realize that writing itself is a creative act with healing power. Both, creativity and writing, connect kids with their inner self — they express their emotions (positive and negative), thoughts, wishes and dreams, hopes and disappointment, gaining awareness of who they are. Joined together, creativity and writing have an even more powerful effect on shaping kids into teens, capable of taking charge of their life and, later on, adult writers who know how to make an impact in their communities and globally.
Adults and children alike, we all love doing what makes us feel good, as individuals and as community members. And exactly that is the path that connects creativity to writing, and through which kids learn to love the writing experience. Using creativity is the best approach to cultivating that love in children of any age so that it would last for a life time.
©2018 Maria Chatzi. All rights reserved.