SingaporeMotherhood | Education

March 2022

Use these Tips to Improve English Composition for your Primary School Child

Does your child struggle with English composition writing? Learning how to craft a compelling story develops a child’s creative and critical thinking skills, as well as wider world knowledge. But if you’ve ever tried to write and found yourself staring at a blank page, you’ll know that it can be hard to know where to start. 

Alongside oral and comprehension, composition is one of the main areas of English language learning in Singapore schools. Even if your child has no intention of becoming the next big Singaporean author, being able to craft a good essay can benefit them in the long run. That’s because composition skills also encourage precise self-expression and thoughtful, resilient learning.

So how can you support your child in improving their English composition when they’re feeling daunted by the task? A teacher from the British Council Singapore, which offers English composition for primary school courses, shares some useful tips below. 

5 Areas to Focus On

To begin with, let’s take a look at the key focus areas for Upper Primary students, and set out some tips to get the words flowing.

Image: Mika Baumeister on Unsplash

Focus area 1: Generating and selecting ideas

Brainstorm the question on paper before planning what you will write. For your initial brainstorm, don’t judge your ideas, just write down everything that comes to mind. Many learners find it useful to arrange these ideas in a mind map. Spelling and neat handwriting do not matter at this stage. Select the best idea by choosing the one you can produce the most engaging text which covers all parts of the question and will interest the reader. 

Focus area 2: Developing and organising ideas

Plan your composition carefully by choosing a planning method that best suits your thinking process (such as OPERA, story mountain, 5 ‘W’s, mind-map etc.). Be sure to include the content you wish to include in each paragraph to fully answer the question. Use linking language throughout to connect your ideas. 

Focus area 3: Reviewing

Proofreading, editing and making improvements are a part of the writing process. 

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Focus area 4: Producing a variety of text types

Learn the features of different text types such as narrative, personal recount, exposition, formal email, informal email, report  and select an appropriate one to answer the question.

Focus area 5: Penmanship and spelling

Avoid spelling errors as these will pull down your marks. Take the time to check your work, and write neatly.

4 Things You can Do at Home with your Child 

1. Read more. To quote author JK Rowling, “You can’t be a good writer without being a devoted reader.” If your child isn’t already a reader, encourage them to read more books. Reading widely will help to broaden your child’s vocabulary and expose them to an infinite range of linguistic techniques to try out themselves. If your child is a reluctant reader, try starting them off with widely loved books like the Harry Potter series, Diary of a Wimpy Kid (Jeff Kinney), or Gangsta Granny (David Walliams). 

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2. Take notes. Give your child a notebook and encourage them to write down interesting words and phrases as they read. This is a smart way to record interesting thoughts and ideas that they can make use of in their own compositions. 

3. Talk it through. If your child is struggling to put pen to paper, spend some time talking through the composition topic with them. A conversation can be really beneficial in helping them to form and refine their ideas. They should find that they feel more confident approaching the task and in turn, better focused on the finer details, like spelling accuracy.

4. Practice, practice, practice. As with any skill that we find challenging, this is truly the best way for your child to see improvement and feel well prepared under exam conditions.

Image: Ketut Subiyanto from Pexels

Here are 5 more tips you can try if they are feeling stuck.

  1. Take a break and come back to it.
  2. Re-read the question.
  3. Re-read your plan.
  4. Reflect on your life experience in the same situation.
  5. Use your five senses to imagine what the character can see, hear, feel, touch and smell.

3 Golden Rules for an Outstanding English Composition

Keep these golden rules in mind as they will always apply, no matter what kind of composition you are writing. Ask:

  • Does the composition hook and maintain the reader’s interest? One way to do this is to experiment with a range of vocabulary and grammatical structures. Choose these – such as onomatopoeia, imagery and varied sentences – for impact. Encourage your child to be imaginative in their use of language. This will help them to grow creatively, and eventually find enjoyment in writing.
Image: Etienne Girardet on Unsplash
  • Has the question been answered fully? It can be easy to get stuck or accidentally veer off topic. Careful planning will help to ensure that your child’s composition stays on the right track and follows a coherent structure, ending with a satisfying conclusion that lingers in the mind.
  • Is it legible? Let’s not allow excellent work to go unread!

Composition writing can be a tricky skill to hone at any age, but with a sound plan, some creative inspiration, and plenty of encouragement, you may find you have a budding wordsmith on your hands. In fact – you might even feel inspired to pick up a pen yourself!

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Use these Tips to Improve English Composition for your Primary School Child