We live in an age where you can visit the other side of the world at the click of a button. Children have access to an amount and variety of information unheard of ten, or even five years ago. To be able to communicate, understand, and empathise has never been more important. Today’s education has to equip children with the skills and tools that enable them to process and engage with our world, and the power of stories helps them do this.
The ability to read and write is integral to our lives. The National Literacy Trust research from 2014 showed that adults with higher levels of literacy were less likely to have poor health or be diagnosed as depressed, and more likely to have higher-paid employment and take active participation in their community. 70% of pupils permanently excluded from school have difficulties in basic literacy skills. The evidence shows that literacy has a significant relationship with success and happiness of people of all ages.
Many children find reading and writing challenging, for many different reasons, and in the age of technology it can be difficult to convince them that writing is an important and useful skill.
As primary school teachers, we often meet children who lack experience to fuel their imaginations, who find sustained writing difficult and who feel overcome by their difficulties with vocabulary. Developing the confidence to read and write stories can open children’s eyes to new people, places, and ways of thinking. Stories give them a safe place to explore their own feelings and reactions to the world around them, and gives them confidence to communicate and engage.
We want to help transform story writing from something daunting and intimidating into something that children can find satisfying and enjoyable, that they will look forward to in school and throughout their lives. Teachers across the world are creating writers of the future, we want to work with them to become ambassadors for creative writing and wave the flag for the power of stories.
We created Smart Stories, and our alter-egos Rufus and Reginald Write, to enthuse a new generation of writers. We want to help break down the barriers that children and teachers can face, and to build children’s literacy through informed, engaging and creative teaching and learning. Our aims are to allow children to discover the value of stories and writing, and to open the path for children to discover their own creativity.
In our workshops, we use film and green screen to add a completely new element to storytelling workshops . We believe that the creative, physical process of writing and filming a story allows children a free imaginative space and gives them a purpose to write that stretches beyond a blank piece of paper. We work as teachers in primary schools and understand the requirements, restrictions and scope of the curriculum, as well as how to get the best out of children. We have also had the time to research new ways of approaching literacy.
By creating different and varied ways for children to access their own stories, we give children a clear incentive and a fun, open and safe space to experiment with language and create their own stories. As well as visiting schools, we create videos and other free resources to support teachers in creating enthusiastic and engaged writers.
Reginald and Rufus Write