Are you a parent who has dreams of seeing your offspring succeed in English writing? If so, you are not the only one! Since Singapore’s Primary English writing curriculum lays strong emphasis on writing skills, many parents harbour hopes and expectations that their children’s imagination which takes flight will be shaped and nurtured in English writing classes under the expert guidance of English tutors. Such a dream can come true only if parents and teachers join hands and become partners in the child’s learning journey. So, how do parents go about it?
1. Show that you care what your child writes
Appreciate the child’s creative ideas and stories in specific terms. To have an in-depth understanding of the child’s strengths and shortcomings, recognise precisely the child’s talent for creating unique characters, funny plots or terrific vocabulary. Once the child’s confidence levels rocket high, there is more enthusiasm for self-expression.
Encourage the children to read aloud their writing pieces. Listen carefully without interruption, and then pepper the children with questions about their writing. Why did the story start or end in a particular way? Is there any other way to make the conflict worse before it gets solved? Such questions not only compel the children to critically analyse their work, but it also lets them know that someone is paying attention to what they write.
Make a special ‘book’ out of their stories for display at prominent locations inside the house so that other family members can read and offer constructive feedback. What’s more, such an exhibition will get the children to take pride in their written work, which is vital for continued growth.
At Write Edge’s English writing classes, apart from targeted appreciation of good work, teachers give cues to the primary school children to induce ideas for generating good quality writing work. As a form of encouragement to produce quality work, best writing pieces of the students are prominently displayed in all centres. A drive to produce a story worthy to be noticed is thus instilled in all students.
2. Create different writing avenues
Collaborative writing journal. The name itself suggests that parents and children take turns to write their thoughts, feelings, stories, interesting observations or even dialogues in the same journal. Through this exercise, parents guide their children to expand vocabulary, improve spellings and to free up their thoughts for self-expression. When children feel a sense of ownership, they get fired up to edit their work responsibly.
Letter writing is becoming a lost art. Let parents hold on to it and give opportunities to their children to practise email or letter-writing correspondence with friends and family members. If the child also receives a email or card from time to time, the excitement becomes manifold.
3. Allocate space, time and resources for reading and writing
When primary school children indulge in writing assignments, designate a writing space that is relaxed with a bit of privacy, away from all the possible distractions. This way, their energies are channelised in one direction. Taking regular breaks and scaffolding the writing process works best for those with short-attention span.
Reading and writing require a lot of mental energy because it involves processing ideas, spelling, vocabulary and grammar simultaneously in one’s head. Hence, children should explore the literary world during times when they can relax, breathe, contemplate, and think freely. Having too many other things on hand will drain the children’s energy, so they often feel exhausted and negative when it comes to writing.
A reliable supply of sufficient stationery, vocabulary tools, grammar tools, and books for inspiration go a long way to motivate children to write productively. Encourage the children strongly to revise and improve on their first draft into a final draft, a much-need skill and effort that cannot be underestimated to improve writing.
At Write Edge’s English writing classes, primary school children build on the first draft of a story as a norm. They expand the content in their story segments wherever required, enhance language clarity, vary their sentence structures and highlight the impressive phrases as a form of revision.
4. Ask about the world
Arouse the child’s curiosity by asking thought-provoking questions about the community and the world at large. Such an activity sharpens the observation skills of primary school children, who subconsciously incorporate their understanding of the community in their writings at any given opportunity. For instance, parent-child discussions on charity drives will provide a wealth of writing matter about the purpose, benefactors, emotions, setting and its modus operandi to the child.
To put it in a nutshell, both parents and educators in English writing classes complement each other. Both have a shared responsibility to raise children of dogged determination to make their mark in writing. In this case, the ends justify the means.