Most children learn new things with nursery rhymes and songs. They learn their colors, counting and objects from repetitive songs. They first learn to read from picture books that, more often than not, have verses and rhymes. By the time they reach elementary school, they are armed with an arsenal of rhymes and songs that are further reinforced by reading creative literature that becomes increasingly complex as they progress through the years. Even rules for spelling and facts for math and science are sometimes contained in rhymes. For example, “i before e except after c or when sounding like a as in neighbor and weigh,” or the rainbow song, which reminds children of the colors of the rainbow, or how to remember the number of days in each month. Quite logically, this leads to a greater appreciation for creative writing which, in turn, can and should be used to inspire children to write creatively.
From a very young age, children are encouraged by their teachers to substitute facts for words found in the nursery rhymes they know. This is already a positive step toward teaching creative writing which teachers in the elementary school should follow up on for several reasons: it is fun, it is easy, it encourages creativity, it teaches a greater appreciation for literature, and it motivates children to express themselves.
Teaching fact-based subjects can become tedious and boring and quickly turn students off. When the teaching is reduced to copying and rote memory, it becomes even more tedious, especially if the children do not have knowledge of mnemonic devices. If the facts are presented in stories or rhymes that the children find interesting, they are immediately provided with mnemonic devices that helps them retain information better. Even if there are no stories or rhymes existing that contain the facts being taught, students can be encouraged to create their own rhymes or stories that will help them retain important facts. This ensures involvement and, because the students create literature that they can use, the process can be a whole lot of fun and the outcome becomes more meaningful.
If teachers assume it is not easy to teach creative writing and integrate that with other subjects, they couldn’t be more wrong. Literature is rich with stories about historical facts, events and people that teachers can use as springboards for lessons. All of these provide excellent examples for students to mimic as they create their own personal interpretation of learning. They can translate knowledge of facts into poetry, songs, stories, essays or drama. Because there is a wide range of literary forms to choose from, there are countless options available to students and teachers alike. Not only will students be learning more about various forms of creative writing, but they will be creating literature themselves without really knowing it. This opens up their minds and motivates them to find new ways of interpreting facts, encouraging them to be more creative. In the process, teachers help them understand the mechanics of writing in various genres and styles, which expands their creative repertoire.
The exposure to various forms of literature as well as the creation of literary output further enhances their appreciation for literature because children then see that literature is something they can create, something that is within their grasp. Creative writing thus becomes a means for children to express their ideas, which, in turn, engenders a greater desire to do more creative writing.
With a strong background in creative writing, children can transition to high school and university without dreading the writing that will be required of them. They will understand all the basics of composition and will be able to express themselves creatively without having to worry about what to write and say or how to write and say things. Expression will become second nature to them as will the appreciation of all forms of literature, which will naturally extend to an appreciation for reading. Because reading and writing are premium skills in high school and university, children who can write creatively will have an edge over those who cannot. That, in itself, should be more than enough of a good reason to teach creative writing more extensively in elementary school.