Why Your Kids Need Writing Skills
If your child finds writing essays a drag, do you worry about it? Or do you think it is sufficient if they just ‘get by’ in writing? After all, the job market requires math and science, not writing skills, doesn’t it? If you feel the same way, don’t worry, you’re not alone. There’s a lot more interest in math courses than in courses on essay writing – the big push is for STEM learning but the ‘E’ there is for Engineering, not English! (How much schooling you have may influence whether you think math or English is the more important subject – check out this eye-opening post.)
But, the good news is that many leading educators, and science/industry leaders, are advocating the importance of language arts in a well-rounded and effective education – there are quite a few who promote STEAM instead of STEM, to make it Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math.
Good writing skills are necessary not just for future writers, but for all students who need to develop the necessary skills to compete in the increasingly complex world of the 21st century.
Here’s why you should care about your child’s ability to write well.
1. Develops logical and critical thinking skills
Critical thinking is a key skill in analyzing the multitude of biases, perspectives, and opinions in the community spaces, media, and books (even some school textbooks). Writing essays trains students to consider all viewpoints and opinions and to argue their own ideas critically and skillfully through a carefully considered thesis and argument – the essence of critical thinking, which can be used for any subject or problem.
Writing and mathematics are inseparable. The most striking example of this intimate relationship is proof writing in Geometry where every mathematical action requires evidence and theory to support it. The practice of writing helps students build universal skills in analyzing, reasoning, and logic, which are essential in argumentative essays as well as mathematics.
2. Promotes individual thinking
Writing essays is the perfect way for students to develop their own opinions, perspectives, and criticisms on everything and anything, from the young adult book they’re reading for fun to Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, current events, or their own every day lives. For every book, article, or situation, an argument can be made. And most essays start with ‘brain-storming’, an approach that fosters innovation. Essay writing will aid young students in developing their overall communication skills including the expression of their own opinions, and taking creative and unusual perspectives. All these are highly useful in college and in the competitive workplace environment where effective communications are as important as innovative thinking (after all, what’s the point of having a great idea if you can’t explain it?)
3. Helps build memory and understanding
As a student, I had a difficult time getting through the ancient epic of the Odyssey. After being assigned to write an essay on the role of women (Penelope, Calypso, or Anticleia) in the Odyssey, I gained a deeper understanding of the epic as a whole. Without writing an essay, it would’ve proven very difficult to synthesize and understand the Odyssey or any other assigned reading material.
Understanding complex texts after reading for hours is a tough task for kids and adults alike. The structured approach of essay writing hones the skills that aid in understanding and retention, without requiring a full-blown essay (unless you are asked for one!).
For more fun details, check out this infographic about writing and the brain.
4. Prepares for college and careers
You, and your teen, probably already know that writing skills are a must for colleges. Almost every college requires personal essays as part of the application process for admissions. Writing is also a key component in just about every college-level class in subjects as diverse as history, anthropology, comparative literature, biology, and math.
As for careers, good writing skills are a requirement in many fields, and especially so for advancement. You may wonder why writing is important when communications are all about 140-character tweets and You-tube videos. Want convincing? Here’s a Harvard Business Review post stating “Effective writing must be a company wide endeavor”.
5. Offers a creative outlet to reduce stress
Our personal favorite! Writing is also a great outlet for stress. Teens and pre-teens have a lot of stress to deal with – personal, academic, social and plenty more. Writing has been proven to reduce stress – maybe that’s why so many professional therapists and self-help advisors recommend keeping journals!
Best of all, writing offers a creative outlet. Not all of us may be capable of playing music or creating works of art, but everyone can write about something – about something that happened to or near us, or someone we know, or a fantasy world we create. Once your child is past the stage of worrying about writing ‘well’, she can write for enjoyment. Encourage your kid to write – it’ll give him a lifetime of confidence as well as comfort.
If your child needs to improve his or her writing skill, make an effort to provide some help. The child’s teacher may have suggestions on activities and resources, and you can of course find any number of workshops and classes, especially during the summer. (For an interactive online course where your child will get personal attention, check out the high quality offerings on Meemli Academy.) Writing is a necessary skill for success as well as satisfaction!
What do you think? Is writing an important part of your work and/or personal life and do you encourage your child to write too?