Wielding the Pen
– Positive Habits to Boost Your Writing Skills
Writing may be a daunting process for your kids. Even without the pressures of presenting before a live audience (as in public speaking), some students find writing (and learning the English Language) a tedious and painful process. It is important to set the right mindset for your child as they embark on their exploration of the English Language. Diving into the syllabus alone will mean having to grapple with various writing formats (such as situational writing or general composition). Some students may feel discouraged while navigating the various paths.
To us, the writing process builds on a healthy habit development process. Just like how a great speaker is not created overnight, becoming a fantastic and accomplished writer requires dedicated time and effort. This journey, however, need not be an arduous or insurmountable one. You can help your child set off on the right foot by developing positive habits through their developing years, even before they start exploring the syllabus in school. This will go a long way in creating a positive mindset towards writing as a skill.
We understand that this is easier said than done. This is why we have derived some simple tips to help you develop your child’s positive habits, as they grow as a writer.
Tip #1: Build your Inventory – Expand your Vocabulary
Vocabulary is one of the indispensable tools for writing – an extensive and colourful vocabulary will allow your child to write with flair and flourish. Building your child’s vocabulary need not be a tedious and top-down approach. In the same vein, replicating the school syllabus or even ‘forcing’ your child to take note of new words may be counter-intuitive to their learning objectives. The learning process should be as enjoyable and constructive as possible for successful habit-building.
One way of organically expanding your child’s vocabulary bank is by leveraging on the activities that they enjoy. For example, if your child has a favourite TV show or mobile phone game, you can ask them to look out for new words or terms that they come across. Start simple with one or two words before eventually increasing the quantity. Alternatively, when having a conversation with your child about their activities, take note of the descriptive words used and offer suggestions on alternative words to adopt. For example, it is common to use “very” in our day-to-day conversation. Replacing this with a more appropriate term may encourage active language choices, e.g. instead of “very tried”, use “exhausted” instead. (check out https://www.grammarcheck.net/very/ for more examples!).
Very angry – livid, incensed
Very sad – disconsolate, heart-wrenching, dejected
Very happy – ecstatic, jubilant, gleeful
Very scared – unnerving, terrified, gripped by trepidation
Staying updated on the modern interests of your child will go a long way in their development. This is something we believe in adopting even for our public speaking classes!
Tip #2: Read, Read and Read
Reading is not a new fad or a habit to develop. We observe that most of the young public speakers in our class are already immersed in the habit of reading. What sets a student apart is his/her ability to read productively. The habit of reading may not be entirely productive if the goal is only to scan through the words and go through the motions. Instead, productive reading habits include actively extracting and noting down key terms that need to be clarified or explained.
For example, your child can be encouraged to keep a vocabulary diary as a record of his/her learning journey. Beyond recording difficult words, your child can also be encouraged to practise summarising the content read, provide his/her opinions or even give a short review of the reading material. These activities will encourage your child to read productively, engaging their creativity and critical thinking skills as well. There is a treasure trove of learning materials for your child in reading – this is definitely a habit worth building!
Tip #3: Writing Descriptively or Persuasively?
Most parents have the perception that writing skills should be skewed towards creative or narrative writing. One aspect of writing commonly neglected is that of persuasive writing. Beyond writing with flowery, descriptive terms, your child should be exposed to the challenge of convincing someone through writing (we gradually see it in the situational writing component where PSLE students have to write reports/ emails/ proposals/ letters etc.). Instead of diving into persuasive speaking, start your child incrementally by having him/her understand the logic flow of relevant reading materials, such as opinion pieces.
Persuasive speaking and writing training can go hand-in-hand. By articulating their arguments, our students can understand and break down the logic pattern of the arguments. Unpacking the arguments into the main points allow them to evaluate them and design a more persuasive version. This articulation can also help them in the writing process – going beyond the paper to see if a face-to-face audience can grasp the arguments. Guide your child in developing both their descriptive and persuasive writing skills in their journey to become an all-rounded communicator!
From Your Pen to the World
It goes without saying that writing skills are crucial, especially for young communicators. Aside from speaking, it is another dominant method of communication in the modern world and the contemporary workplace. This learning journey should start from young with active and productive habit-building for your child. We hope that the simple tips above will facilitate your child’s growth as a more confident, creative and competent communicator!
Public Speaking Academy strives to help students with both types of communication:
For verbal communication:
Public Speaking for Kids/ Children:
Public Speaking for Adults:
For written communication:
PSLE English Tuition for Primary 5 & 6: