Writing is The Key to Academic Acceleration
by Stephanie Steen, Ed.S.
Schools across the nation are scrambling to catch up students in the core academic areas of reading and mathematics. As a parent, you can accelerate your child’s learning by focusing on the all-important skill of writing. That’s right: When children learn to write, they learn to think, which supports their academic development in all content areas.
How does writing promote learning?
Let’s say a child has recently learned how to make s’mores during a family camping trip, so you ask them to write about their experience. As they begin to write, they may reflect on their feelings of joy, excitement, and, perhaps, a little anxiety from being so close to an open flame. They will likely write about their sensory experiences such as listening to the crackle and pop of logs splitting open or stretching the tacky marshmallow cream between their fingers. As they write, they may even turn to you to ask what you used to sharpen their stick for roasting.
The process of transferring thoughts into words on a page builds content knowledge, increases vocabulary, and strengthens core memories. Background knowledge is essential in order to comprehend what is read, so time spent writing is time leveraged to advance reading proficiency.
Learn about self and others
When children write, they discover new things about themselves and others. They may solidify their views on a debatable topic, uncover previously untapped feelings, or contemplate creative solutions to their problems. As children write about themselves and others, they unlock new ways to relate to the world and understand varying viewpoints.
Developing a greater sense of self is confidence building, and to be a learner requires both vulnerability and self esteem. Children who are able to express themselves through writing are practicing an effective coping mechanism; when they encounter academic challenges, they can put pen to paper to reflect, learn, grow, and overcome.
Why does it matter?
The shifts in the Common Core State Standards require students of all ages to demonstrate their knowledge via writing. As students progress through school, they are asked to write extensively in all content areas and cite textual evidence to support their ideas and opinions. Students must do all of this while employing increasingly complex language and producing polished pieces.
What can I do about it?
As a parent, you can encourage your child to write as part of their daily routine when not in school. Click here to access my 7 tips for incorporating writing into summer activities. Or, if you would like your child to work with a licensed teacher, inquire about Apex Education Partners’ personalized online writing tutoring options here.
Writers are learners, and summertime offers excellent opportunities to accelerate your child’s academic skills.
Stephanie Steen is an educational leader with over 15 years of experience as a high school English teacher, an instructional coach, a professional development facilitator, a K-8 principal, and a director of MTSS and literacy.