A creative way to passing exams and installing a life-long love for words

A creative way to passing exams and installing a life-long love for words

Creative writing is far from a pastime – it’s the key to unlocking a child’s potential in English, getting good grades at GCSE and most importantly installing a life-long love of reading and language.

In the new English GCSE, 50% of the exam paper has a creative writing element – being able to write with imagination and expression has become more important than ever.

But the ability to write creatively has a far more beneficial impact than just getting a good grade at English GCSE.

The art of creative writing should start in primary school.

But why is creative writing essential for a child’s intellectual development even at a young age?

The thing about learning English is that you can only really develop your ability to speak and write correctly if it is practised. Children participate in conversation a great deal throughout the day but it is only when they write things that they truly engage with the language in all its fullness.

They learn how to spell, punctuate, use syntax and grammar correctly, and also how to communicate through the written word in an interesting way. This aids the development of a child’s critical thinking skills, giving them the ability to respond to written questions and provide coherent and cogent answers.

I once created a book list for my students of 15 classics that should be read before the age of 11. A few parents asked me why their children should read these ‘old-fashioned’ books. And my response is always the same – these books have captured the imagination of millions of children over many generations and will continue to do so.

Books such as these help inspire creativity and a love of literature, which is very valuable to us as human beings. They can also motivate children to write, which is very important for children’s intellectual development.

Being able to read fluently and write creatively boosts children’s performance in all other school subject areas, from maths to history. To answer exam questions or to write an essay is essential for students to be able to understand any question before they can answer it, or argue their case effectively.

More specifically, creative writing requires a child to develop their imaginative and literary skills simultaneously. Not only do they need to come up with story ideas but they then need to find a way to express their tale in an interesting and engaging way through the correct use of language.

The new English Language GCSE has far more creative tasks than ever before and in my view, this can only be a good thing.

It will also hopefully encourage more reluctant English learners to develop a love of the written word.

But to ensure that children are not only are equipped for their GCSEs but also life itself, harnessing the art of creating writing must start as soon as they learn how to write and read.

And before they get to secondary school, get them reading some of these:

  • Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
  • A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
  • The Time Machine by H. G. Wells
  • Peter Pan by J. M. Barrie
  • The Railway Children by Edith Nesbit
  • Around the World in 80 Days by Jules Verne
  • Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome
  • Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson
  • Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe
  • Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
  • Alice Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll
  • Dracula by Bram Stoker
  • Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling
  • Swiss Family Robinson by Johann Rudolf Wyss
  • The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving