K-12 Grades: How Writing Benefits Students
By Pamela Zinkosky
Like other art forms, writing is its own reward. As students improve writing skills at K12 grades, the act of writing, like the act of painting, playing the piano or sculpting, brings a joy all its own to the participant, and then doubles its reward by producing something that others can appreciate — the poem, story, article or other work.
Writing has many side benefits, especially when included in a well-rounded curriculum. Here are just a few of them:
- Individuality. Writing is, by nature, personal and individual. It forces children to use their own words to express their own thoughts and feelings. In a world of peer pressure and sameness, elementary grades through high school writing is a valuable way for students to nurture individuality and deal with younger kids' and teenagers' issues.
- Self-expression. Writing can be a way for children to express problems or feelings that they wouldn’t otherwise express. It provides an alternate means for communication that can liberate them from embarrassment, shame or fear that may cause them to keep feelings to themselves.
- Independent thinking. Roy Peter Clark, teacher and journalist, says that learning to write also means learning to think. “The writing process gives students a path for clear thinking,” he says. “The act of writing involves understanding the world and yourself. Young writers must think independently and respond to criticism of their work.”
- Confidence building. Closely related to its cultivation of individuality is writing’s confidence-building capabilities. Writing is a solitary activity, and it results in something that belongs solely to the writer, says Sherrie Gentry, teacher consultant for Western Michigan University’s Third Coast Writing Project and middle school teacher for Whitefish Township School in Paradise. She adds, “Parents and teachers can use this to help students feel confident and proud.”
- Listening skills. Clark notes, “Good writers listen to the teacher and write down key words. They conduct an interview and listen for what is most important. They listen to a teacher’s question about their work or to the comments of other students. They translate these questions into improvements in their stories. They listen to the stories of other children.”
- Reading and speaking skills. Clark says that good writers also become good readers and speakers. “A good writing teacher helps a student speak more effectively. The student finds her ‘voice’ on the page and shares it with others through oral interpretation. She learns to read her words aloud to others with feeling and emphasis,” he says.
Pamela Zinkosky is a freelance writer.