Evidence from the EEF (May 2022) shows that Covid-related disruption has caused learning loss in children. There is some evidence that the writing outcomes for primary-aged and Year 7 children were lower than expected compared to previous year groups (Christodoulou, 2021, 2022). One of the common issues is that writing stamina has been heavily impacted.
What do we mean when we talk about writing stamina?
Writing Stamina means being able to write for an extended period of time without losing focus, being distracted by another task or giving up. Building writing stamina is important for any writer and is particularly useful for children who may not have written for a sustained period of time.
EEF’s School Planning Guided for 2022-2023, recommends that in order for writing stamina to improve, schools need to develop pupils’ handwriting, spelling and sentence construction through extensive practice.
Here are three practical best bets for improving writing stamina!
Focus on language and vocabulary! Use talk strategies to support the crafting of texts. Research shows that when children get an opportunity to talk as they write improves children’s final outcomes. This may be because it gives children more working memory for writing or because talk between children assists them in deciding what to say and to encode it
Fluency in Letter formation! In terms of fluency and stamina – handwriting is probably the biggest hitter of all. The point of handwriting is not about a beautiful script – the point is fluency. Novice writers should focus their efforts on ‘automaticity’ and fluency, rather than a particular style.
Writing is a cognitive activity, but a physical one too. Instead of asking children to write for twenty minutes, split the time into five-minute bursts of writing. Build short bursts of writing into the Teaching Sequence for writing. Use mini plenaries to check handwriting posture, pencil grip and re-set position.
If your school is looking to secure fluency in handwriting, the following priority objectives might be a useful starting point:
Priority Handwriting Skills to Prioritise