We’re seeing a lot in newspapers at the moment about how much pressure young people are under. Exam worries and a frequent misuse of social media means that teenagers are more stressed than ever before. Limiting screen time will help, but there is a growing school of thought which suggests that teaching mindfulness and relaxation techniques will help. Creative Writing can be part of that.
Here are four ways that Creative Writing can help your teenager:
(1) There is no right or wrong answer
The joy of Creative Writing is that there is no right or wrong answer. Do you think your creation Bob should be a talking hippo? No problem. Does your protagonist’s house get up and fly of its own accord? That’s fine; you can defy the laws of physics. This sort of free-thinking can provide a welcome relief for teenagers struggling to remember Maths formulae or the birth order of the Bennet sisters.
(2) It’s for the moment
Mindfulness encourages people to slow down and live in the moment. This is what Creative Writing does. If you are penning a poem or plotting a short story then your mind cannot be wandering too far into thoughts about future exams or Instagram posts.
(3) It can discourage screen time (use a pencil and paper!)
Lots of young people today understandably struggle to get off their phones. As a teacher, I see students who find writing with a pen difficult. The blue light emitted from their tablets is also thought to increase brain activity and reduce peacefulness and sleepiness. When I set Creative Writing exercises, I encourage my students to take it as a break away from their screens. They are often pleasantly surprised at how much better their ideas flow when they pick up a pencil!
(4) It can help with their English work
In the new GCSE specification, Creative Writing is a key component, so students will be directly improving their exam chances. They will also benefit from thinking more freely about vocabulary, sentence structure and plotting, which could feed into their Literature analysis too.
Encouraging students to try short Creative Writing exercises can have a beneficial effect on their well-being. Please see the accompanying blog post (on the Oxford Home Schooling site) which has six ideas that you can try at home.
I am currently working for a Pupil Referral Unit in the south, having previously taught in comprehensives in Oxford and London. My particular interests are History and (English) Literature, but as a mum of two small boys I am also increasingly interested in debates surrounding primary education in general and parenting in particular.