In our work with students, we’ve found that an activity that is consistently agonized over is also one of the most underrated lifelong skills: writing.
The Importance of Writing
It’s no surprise that the pandemic has affected students’ writing skills. As of fall 2020, students in grades 4-6 were between 5 and 25% behind where they would be in a typical year in their English Language Arts classes. At a time when many of us are still struggling to think clearly ourselves (hello, brain fog!), and chatGPT offering false promises of hope, it’s more important than ever to prioritize strong communication abilities and address disparities head-on.
What are three important ways to support writing?
1. Understand the writing/executive function link. For students with executive dysfunction in particular, writing = overwhelm. Think about it: solid writing involves organization, planning, prioritization, starting and completing tasks, as well as adaptable thinking.
Without a clear roadmap, students can become daunted by the task in front of them. One of my middle school students recently shared– with an impressive dose of self-awareness– that she feels that she has mastered the art of fabricating excuses for herself to avoid things. Lacking a solid grasp of the fundamentals, students lose valuable self-confidence. It creates shame cycles that can affect their emotional and mental well-being.
2. Recognize the tangential social and emotional benefits of writing growth. All students can benefit from writing support– research has shown the far-reaching benefits of writing, from improved memory function, to fewer symptoms of depression and anxiety, to stronger grades. Developing strong writing skills allows students to sharpen their communication abilities that they will take with them far beyond the classroom, not to mention the impact that writing can have on students’ sense of self and their ability to reflect.
3. Create opportunities for skill development when students aren’t juggling the day-to-day obligations of school, activities, and life. The unstructured weeks of summer provide an ideal time for students to hone these foundational skills, especially when paired with assigned summer reading or fun exploration of a topic of interest.
How We Work With Students
In our office, we’ve made writing a cornerstone of the work we do in supporting the development of executive functioning skills. We help middle school, high school and college students develop their own unique writerly voice, providing crucial scaffolding while tailoring our curriculum to the specific needs of each student. Over the course of two decades, we have seen how improved writing skills can change life trajectories, empowering students to become creative thinkers with the self-assurance to design their own blueprints for both school and life.
Our hope? For students to develop fearless confidence.
PS. Speaking of writing abilities, Erasing the Finish Line: The New Blueprint for Student Success comes out in two months – and one of the awesome pre-order bonuses ends this week. Get your copy here!
Other links of interest:
Green Ivy Summer Registration (for June – August sessions)
How to help kids navigate social media (NYTimes)
The first year of AI college ends in ruin (Atlantic)