A study, released in May 2014 by the Education Endowment Foundation, has revealed that fun days out can improve childrens writing skills.
The project, which ran in 2013, saw primary school age children being treated to an enjoyable experience such as a day out at the zoo, or a trip to a castle. After their fun day out, were then asked to write about the experience in specially structured way, which included learning how to evaluate and improve their own written work.
Rather than just writing an account of their day out, the children were also encouraged to write in a variety of different ways. For example, writing a letter to their headteacher explaining why a trip to the zoo would be useful, or writing an article debating the pros and cons of keeping animals in confined spaces.
At the end of the study, the children were asked to do a written test and those who had participated in the trial performed considerably better than those in the control group. It is estimated that their writing skills had improved by the equivalent of an extra 9 months schooling.
By my reckoning, this is fantastic news. As a parent, even of pre-school age children, I feel the pressure to find the right balance between play-based activities and learning activities. It’s well known that young children learn through play anyway, but this study shines a new light on the academic benefits of treating children to fun days out.
It’s common sense really. If a child, or anyone for that matter, is able to experience something first-hand then their ability to recall the event with detail and enthusiasm will be greatly improved. They will become engaged with the topic and interested in following through on it.
What can we learn from this as copywriters?
In this case the aim was to get the children writing with passion and getting them engaged with the whole process of creating a piece of written work, understanding what makes good writing and learning how to review their own work. In doing so their literacy skills improved.
Perhaps there is a reminder here for copywriters too. An engaged audience is a more responsive one and sometimes it pays to take a different approach to your writing in order to generate a better response.
As good copywriters we need to think creatively about our writing and bring our subject to life for our readers. We also shouldn’t underestimate the power of critiqueing our own work in order to learn more about our writing strengths and identify areas for improvement. Although we’re not in the classroom any more, it’s important to keep reviewing, keep learning and keep writing with passion.
More importantly, perhaps this study just confirms that I did the right thing buying an annual zoo membership for myself and my children! If you don’t have one, perhaps you should.
P.S Check out my list of copywriting basics for a reminder of how to make your content stand out in a content-rich world
- Full details on the Education Endowment Foundation study can be found on their website.
- Get yourself an annual zoo membership! I can recommend ZSL Whipsnade Zoo.