Writing Can Be Good For Your Health

August 14, 2015

For many, writing feels like such a chore. Students view writing as a means to an end - to cross off an assignment, to avoid failing a class and receiving a parental lecture, to get into college. Sometimes it can be difficult to see writing as something other than an item that needs to be completed on an academic checklist. 

Perhaps it's time to change our views of writing. Recent research has found that writing can be a positive influence on many aspects of your life. Consider this recent article from NPR. It highlights many benefits of writing, including higher academic achievement and better academic performance among minority groups. Earlier this year, the New York Times featured a story that shows some of the same academic achievement results with a group of Duke University students, but this article included even more examples of writing's positive influence, such as improved physical and mental health and increased marital happiness.  

So how do you get students to get more excited about writing and view it as a chance for personal growth rather than just a grade? This post on K5 Chalk Box provides many helpful ways to encourage more writing among younger students. Gary Hopkins, Editor-in-Chief of Education World, shares suggested journal prompts for students as well as proven benefits from students and teachers he spoke with when preparing his article. 

Most importantly, set aside time for students to write something that isn't graded or assessed. Relieve them of the pressure of spelling every word correctly, of constructing the perfect sentence, of answering every aspect of the prompt. Journal-writing can provide this opportunity. Journal time can be a preliminary activity for a graded assignment, but students should be allowed to use this time to focus on their creation, not on the result (think of this as enjoying the journey and not just trying to reach the destination). 

Do you have any other tips for teachers on how to encourage more writing among your students? If you have any success stories you would like to share, please let us know!

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