How to Involve Children in Writing to Boost Creativity and Memory

Digital technologies have helped children to develop writing skills in multiple ways. According to the results of a survey from Pew Research Center, 96% of the surveyed teachers agreed that digital technologies allowed students to share their work with a wider audience. In addition, the majority of teachers (76%) agreed that digital tools promoted greater collaboration among students.

However, there is a problem: the use of technology has minimized the need for handwriting. Teachers require typed assignments, so the students are being encouraged to use the computer when completing projects. They are using their tablets and smartphones to take notes during class, so handwriting is brought to a minimum.

Research Proves It: Handwriting Comes with Great Benefits

Psychological scientists from Princeton and the University of California, Los Angeles, tested and analyzed the students’ learning abilities linked to typing or handwriting notes. During the first stage of the study, the participants of were relying on their usual note-taking strategy during the lectures (all of them were listening to the same lectures). Half an hour after the lectures, the students were tested on the material.

The findings were quite interesting: both laptop users and hand-writers memorized the same number of facts from the lectures. The users of laptops showed an ability to take more detailed notes. However, they were also inclined to transcribe the words they listened to, without involving their reasoning in the process. The students were tested again after one week. This time, the students who took notes by hand showed significantly better results. The results of this study are clear: taking notes with a pen and paper is a superior method to typing when it comes to boosting memory.      

Another study, performed at the University of Indiana, focussed on discovering the effects of handwriting on young children who didn’t know how to read and write. Each child was given an index card with a shape or letter. They were asked to draw it by hand, type it on a computer, or trace it on a dotted line. The results showed that the children who drew the shapes or letters by hand had greater activity in specific areas of the brain that are activated when adults write and read. These brain functions were not active in the children who used the two other methods to replicate the shape or letter.

Why Should Children Write More?

  • The quality of handwriting is related to children’s ability to learn and write.
  • Handwriting gives students enough time to think and focus while writing. The typing process, on the other hand, is more mechanical.
  • The simplicity of the pen-and-paper method keeps the student focused on the task at hand.
  • Through handwriting, students express their personality.

How to Inspire Children to Write Longhand

It’s not too hard to inspire primary-school students to write by hand. The process of writing something on paper is quite attractive to them.

From high school on, however, students start relying on technologies more and more. They bring their tablets and laptops to class, and the teachers have no other choice but to let them use technology for learning. Many students from this age group find handwriting boring and tiring. At that point, we have to find ways to engage them in the process.

Here are some ideas to help you encourage children to write:

  1. Give them reasons to write – a letter, a shopping list, a wish list. If there are a group of children, ask each one to write an anonymous letter. Then, hand out the letters in a random order, and see if they can recognize the the handwriting.
  2. Create a positive writing atmosphere. Play an educational video and compare the notes that everyone took.
  3. Ask them to describe events or landscapes through writing. Then, check their work and give them credit.
  4. Make a project, such as a journal. If they use different colors and pencils, the final result will be not only educational, but creative, too.
  5. Ask them to write poems, stories, essays, and other creative assignments by hand. The main idea is to make them focus through the process of writing.

Emily Waldman, a grammar tutor from Essays On Time explains:

‘Handwriting supports the brain’s creative functions, which are extremely important for creative writing. For a change, ask your students for a handwritten essay instead of a typed one. Turn it into a fun activity that allows them to show how creative they can get when the time is limited. Don’t set any expectations; there won’t be grades for this assignment. You just want them to practice.’

  1. If they have assignments or exams to study for, invite them to create mind maps by hand. Handwriting will encourage them to consider their ideas more deeply. They can use color pencils to make the maps more appealing.
  2. Assign writing projects. Think of a topic and ask someone to write an introductory sentence. Another person then writes the next sentence, making sure to keep a logical flow. Continue until you get an entire paper, and then read it.
  3. Encourage them to take notes during lectures or lessons. Emphasize the important parts and tell them to write them down in their own words. You can teach children the Cornell Note Taking System for that purpose.

Handwriting has an important connection with creativity and memory which is why it’s such an important part of their development. Anything that will encourage them towards handwriting will help to strengthen their creativity and memory, which will in turn nurture them towards success.


About the Author: Sophia Anderson

Sophia AndersonSophia Anderson is an associate educator, tutor and freelance writer. She is passionate about covering topics on learning, writing, careers, self-improvement, motivation and others. She believes in the driving force of positive attitude and constant development. Talk to her on Facebook or LinkedIn.

 

4 Comments

Christa

This article makes me want to cry because my son struggles with dysgraphia and we have recently decided at age 9 that his handwriting skills are holding him back from other types of learning. Trying to help someone with an invisible disability is not easy. Most of the help is for kids who are obviously not neurotypical. High functioning kids with challenges are a real struggle.

Thanks for your information. I’m sure it is helpful for many people.

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Karen - Hey Sigmund

Christa handwriting is just one way to develop these skills – there are plenty more. I understand how difficult it is to help kids who are quietly struggling. Keep searching and fighting for him to receive the support he needs. There will be a way through this.

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Sometimes we all just need space to talk to someone who will listen without giving advice, or problem solving, or lecturing. Someone who will let us talk, and who can handle our experiences and words and feelings without having to smooth out the wrinkles or tidy the frayed edges. 

Our kids need this too, but as their important adults, it can be hard to hush without needing to fix things, or gather up their experience and bundle it into a learning that will grow them. We do this because we love them, but it can also mean that they choose not to let us in for the wrong reasons. 

We can’t help them if we don’t know what’s happening in their world, and entry will be on their terms - even more as they get older. As they grow, they won’t trust us with the big things if we don’t give them the opportunity to learn that we can handle the little things (which might feel seismic to them). They won’t let us in to their world unless we make it safe for them to.

When my own kids were small, we had a rule that when I picked them up from school they could tell me anything, and when we drove into the driveway, the conversation would be finished if they wanted it to be. They only put this rule into play a few times, but it was enough for them to learn that it was safe to talk about anything, and for me to hear what was happening in that part of their world that happened without me. My gosh though, there were times that the end of the conversation would be jarring and breathtaking and so unfinished for me, but every time they would come back when they were ready and we would finish the chat. As it turned out, I had to trust them as much as I wanted them to trust me. But that’s how parenting is really isn’t it.

Of course there will always be lessons in their experiences we will want to hear straight up, but we also need them to learn that we are safe to come to.  We need them to know that there isn’t anything about them or their life we can’t handle, and when the world feels hard or uncertain, it’s safe here. By building safety, we build our connection and influence. It’s just how it seems to work.♥️
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Words can be hard sometimes. The right words can be orbital and unconquerable and hard to grab hold of. Feelings though - they’ll always make themselves known, with or without the ‘why’. 

Kids and teens are no different to the rest of us. Their feelings can feel bigger than words - unfathomable and messy and too much to be lassoed into language. If we tap into our own experience, we can sometimes (not all the time) get an idea of what they might need. 

It’s completely understandable that new things or hard things (such as going back to school) might drive thoughts of falls and fails and missteps. When this happens, it’s not so much the hard thing or the new thing that drives avoidance, but thoughts of failing or not being good enough. The more meaningful the ‘thing’ is, the more this is likely to happen. If you can look behind the words, and through to the intention - to avoid failure more than the new or difficult experience, it can be easier to give them what they need. 

Often, ‘I can’t’ means, ‘What if I can’t?’ or, ‘Do you think I can?’, or, ‘Will you still think I’m brave, strong, and capable of I fail?’ They need to know that the outcome won’t make any difference at all to how much you adore them, and how capable and exceptional you think they are. By focusing on process, (the courage to give it a go), we clear the runway so they can feel safer to crawl, then walk, then run, then fly. 

It takes time to reach full flight in anything, but in the meantime the stumbling can make even the strongest of hearts feel vulnerable. The more we focus on process over outcome (their courage to try over the result), and who they are over what they do (their courage, tenacity, curiosity over the outcome), the safer they will feel to try new things or hard things. We know they can do hard things, and the beauty and expansion comes first in the willingness to try. 
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#parenting #mindfulparenting #positiveparenting #mindfulparent
Never in the history of forever has there been such a  lavish opportunity for a year to be better than the last. Not to be grabby, but you know what I’d love this year? Less opportunities that come in the name of ‘resilience’. I’m ready for joy, or adventure, or connection, or gratitude, or courage - anything else but resilience really. Opportunities for resilience have a place, but 2020 has been relentless with its servings, and it’s time for an out breath. Here’s hoping 2021 will be a year that wraps its loving arms around us. I’m ready for that. x
The holidays are a wonderland of everything that can lead to hyped up, exhausted, cranky, excited, happy kids (and adults). Sometimes they’ll cycle through all of these within ten minutes. Sugar will constantly pry their little mouths wide open and jump inside, routines will laugh at you from a distance, there will be gatherings and parties, and everything will feel a little bit different to usual. And a bit like magic. 

Know that whatever happens, it’s all part of what the holidays are meant to look like. They aren’t meant to be pristine and orderly and exactly as planned. They were never meant to be that. Christmas is about people, your favourite ones, not tasks. If focusing on the people means some of the tasks fall down, let that be okay, because that’s what Christmas is. It’s about you and your people. It’s not about proving your parenting stamina, or that you’ve raised perfectly well-behaved humans, or that your family can polish up like the catalog ones any day of the week, or that you can create restaurant quality meals and decorate the table like you were born doing it. Christmas is messy and ridiculous and exhausting and there will be plenty of frayed edges. And plenty of magic. The magic will happen the way it always happens. Not with the decorations or the trimmings or the food or the polish, but by being with the ones you love, and the ones who love you right back.

When it all starts to feel too important, too necessary and too ‘un-let-go-able’, be guided by the bigger truth, which is that more than anything, you will all remember how you all felt – as in how happy they felt, how loved they felt were, how noticed they felt. They won’t care about the instagram-worthy meals on the table, the cleanliness of the floors, how many relatives they visited, or how impressed other grown-ups were with their clean faces and darling smiles. It’s easy to forget sometimes, that what matters most at Christmas isn’t the tasks, but the people – the ones who would give up pretty much anything just to have the day with you.
Some days are great days. We want to squeeze every delicious moment out of them and keep them forever somewhere safe and reachable where our loved days and precious things are kept. Then there are days that are truly awful - the days we want to fold in half, and then in half again and again and again until those days are too small to hurt us any more. But days are like that aren’t they. For better or worse they will come and they will go. Sometimes the effects of them will stay – the glow, the growth, the joy, the bruises – long after those days have gone. And despite what I know to be true - that these are the days that will make us braver, stronger, kinder and wiser, sometimes I don’t feel any of that for a while. I just see the stretch marks. But that’s the way life is, isn’t it. It can be hard and beautiful all in sequence and all at once.
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One of the tough things about being human is that to live wholeheartedly means to open ourselves to both - the parts that are plump with happiness, and the parts that hurt. We don’t have to choose which one can stay. They can exist together. Not always in equal measure, and not always enough of the beautiful to make the awful feel tolerable, or to give it permission to be, but they can exist together - love through loss, hope through heartache. The big memory-making times that fatten life to full enough, and the ones that come with breakage or loss. The loss matters and the joy matters. The existence of either doesn't make the other matter any less. 
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What I also know to be true is that eventually, the space taken up by loss or heartache changes space for enough of the beautiful to exist with it. This is when we can start to move with. Sadness still, perhaps, but with hope, with courage, with strength and softness, with openness to what comes next. Because living bravely and wholeheartedly doesn't mean getting over loss or denying the feelings that take our breath away sometimes. It means honouring both, and in time, moving with.♥️

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