Reading and Writing in Free Time Improve Mental Health of Schoolchildren

Category: Education/Family


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. leisure / ˈliː.ʒɚ / (adj) – related to free time or time used for fun

    Few schoolchildren read and write during their leisure time.

  2. quantify / ˈkwɑːntəˌfaɪ / (v) – to measure something by giving it numerical value

    The study tried to quantify students’ stress by giving them scores from 1-10 depending on different factors.

  3. resilience / rɪˈzɪljəns / (n) – the ability to deal with a difficult situation

    I admire your resilience because you always manage to handle challenges.

  4. tremendous / trɪˈmen.dəs / (adj) – great amount

    Students experience tremendous pressure from their parents’ expectations.

  5. come to terms with (something) / kʌm tə tɜrmz wɪð / (idiom) – to accept a situation that is not good

    He couldn’t come to terms with his failing grade.


Read the text below.

Schoolchildren who read and write in their leisure time have better mental health, according to a study done in the United Kingdom.

The National Literacy Trust (NLT), a charity organization, surveyed nearly 50,000 schoolchildren aged eight to 18. The survey included a Mental Wellbeing Index, which tries to quantify a person’s confidence, satisfaction with life, and resilience to stress. The index gives scores that range from one to 10. Low mental wellbeing gets a score of one to six, while high mental wellbeing gets 8.6 to 10.

According to the survey, 39.4% of schoolchildren who read and write in their free time scored high on the index. On the other hand, only 11.8% of schoolchildren who do not read and write for leisure had high mental wellbeing scores.

To explain the results, NLT Director Jonathan Douglas pointed out that schoolchildren experience tremendous stress from school and at home. He said that reading and writing for fun allow schoolchildren to temporarily escape this stress. These activities also provide the children a chance to come to terms with their buried emotions.

In addition to this study, previous research by the NLT had also shown other benefits that schoolchildren can get from reading and writing in their leisure time. The organization’s research conducted in 2016 revealed that schoolchildren who read and write leisurely have better reading and writing skills than their peers. It also found that reading and writing affect schoolchildren’s overall learning skills, as well as performance in subjects like history, mathematics, and science.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

• Do you think reading and writing during one’s leisure time can also affect adults in the same way (e.g. better mental wellbeing, higher learning skills)?
• Other than reading and writing for leisure, what are some good ways for people to cope with stress? Discuss.

Discussion B

• Why do you think some children do not read or write in their leisure time?
• How would you encourage children to read or write in their leisure time?

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