Good writing isn’t a skill that can be developed overnight. It takes a lot of practice to build up a child’s confidence in writing. Luckily, there are many resources available that can not only help your child to improve their writing, but nurture their love for it as well.
For many children, writing compositions may be something that they dread in examinations. Under time constraints, it can be difficult to come up with a well-written story that can catch the examiner’s attention. However, training your child to write well can go a long way. And with the Paper 1 component in major examinations taking up 30 to 50% of the final grade, it would be a pity to lose marks on bad grammar and spelling.
Hence while it may seem tedious, developing good writing skills from young is a valuable investment for future assessments.
Avoid common writing mistakes
Below are a number of common writing mistakes that students make. Does your child make similar mistakes too?
- Spelling mistakes
We all make spelling mistakes, even when we are older. However, the presence of the autocorrect function in smartphones and laptops may be a bane for children learning to write, especially if their English foundation is not strong. They would be less aware of how words are spelt and end up losing marks during their exams. A few commonly misspelt words are “tomorrow”, “completely” and “receive”.
2. Bad grammar
Grammar lessons might sound boring, but good grammar is essential to a good piece of writing. Subject-verb agreement, tenses and punctuation are important aspects to a well-written piece. Often, students get confused between past tense (“spoke”) and past perfect tense (“had spoken”). Punctuation errors are also common, especially when writing dialogues.
3. Lack of organisation
Children are bursting with ideas. Sometimes, it may be hard to string all of these ideas into a single coherent piece. This results in awkward phrasing and messy writing. Being able to write an organised piece takes lots of practice and encouragement from parents!
Many children nowadays may text more than they write. Online, children use Internet slangs like “lol”, “ttyl” and “tbh” to chat with their friends. While this is an effective way to communicate, some parents worry that their children’s writing habits may be adversely affected. Over time, they may find it difficult to spell and write grammatically correct and coherent sentences.
Learning to write well can be a very rewarding process. Encourage your child to practise their writing whenever they can. Below are a few tips that parents can try using to help their child improve their writing.
This may be a no-brainer, but reading is often considered the best way to help your child to be more attuned to the English language. Reading and writing go hand in hand. Exposing your child to more books helps to improve their writing skills by strengthening their grammar and vocabulary. If your child has a favourite story, discuss it with them and encourage them to expand on the ideas from that story.
2. Start with simple lists
For younger children, you can encourage them to help you with simple tasks like writing up grocery lists or weekly plans. Be proactive and make sure that your child can see you using a pen and paper to write things down from time to time, and not only on your phone or laptop. This also helps them to improve their handwriting.
3. Keep a journal
For older children, you can encourage them to keep a journal. Writing is an expressive activity, and having a journal to record their thoughts is a useful outlet for their emotions while helping them to practise their writing too.
You can also make use of technology by encouraging your child to create an online blog that they have to update regularly with new topics and ideas. They may even pick up a few digital skills along the way! Don’t let technology become a bad influence on your child’s writing. Encourage them to turn off the autocorrect function so that they are less reliant on predictive text.
4. Practise with assessment books
There are many guidebooks and assessment books designed to help children to improve their composition and writing skills, from pre-school to Junior College level. Aside from composition writing, children can also focus on improving their editing skills via assessment books that test their spelling and grammar. These help them gain confidence in their writing.
Writing is a process. Don’t let your child be discouraged if they are having trouble expressing themselves. It will take time, but parents can support them by pointing out small improvements that they make along the way.