For some parents and children, Composition can be a stressful subject at school. For some children, composition writing is not easy and can be a challenging task to do. Especially when they have to follow certain rules, use certain expressions and phrases, write at least XXX words and several paragraphs, put the correct punctuation and grammar, use the correct tenses, etc.
In Primary 3, the teacher already asked the boy to add twisted ending in his writing, and when he came home he asked me immediately “What is a twist ending?” hahaha…………he didn’t even know what a twist ending was……….I was intrigue to say: “Why don’t you ask your teacher and let her explain to you?” But I finally explained to him by using some examples from the books that he already read.
Making a twist ending is still sound too difficult for him, so once again the teacher commented on his writing: “Make the ending more interesting.” Well, it needs practice to make a surprise ending, so we’re working really hard on that. Basically, his writing skill is already considered very good and he finds no difficulty to make stories (he had no difficulty in composition writing and so far his marks are very good), it’s just that he needs to think out of the box and must be encouraged to write something out of the ordinary.
Is it to much to ask from a P3 student? For me……….it’s not. I like it that the English teacher gives good inputs to improve his writing skills and it’s not just about using the correct grammar or the right punctuation. Since he likes writing a lot, he has to be challenged to always go one step ahead. Who knows someday he might be becoming a famous writer……………….
In my opinion, on of the best way to improve a child’s writing skill is thorough reading. Reading will broaden the knowledge, enhance creativity, introduce a child to new vocabularies and how to use certain expressions or phrases to create wow factor in a story, teach the correct grammar and tenses, help them to recognize good story lines and make twisted ending, present history facts or things that he/she doesn’t know about a place/city/country/person so they can insert those details in the story as to make the story more real, etc. But of course to be able to achieve those kind of things, the choice of books has a very important role. As the child grow older, he must read different kind of books that is suitable for his age.
As for me, I usually let him choose the books that he likes while also introducing new books to him. Sometimes he’ll take my advice, and sometimes not. I will try to choose books with higher level of difficulty step by step, and also thicker books as he grows older.
The most important thing is that he enjoys the books that he reads. Luckily we have good access to libraries where he can choose his own books to borrow. Mostly, he reads everyday, from science books, asterix comic books, mystery books, adventure books, or even history books……….I will always find him with a book in his hand in his spare time.
My mom used to complain of why the boy spends most of his time reading books and not learning English. I said that he is learning through reading, and that he’ll improve his writing skill by reading, and even during exam he could answer the difficult questions that weren’t in the school books because he had read it before. And I also shared once that he learnt how to read and write in English purely by reading the Peter and Jane compelete book series by Ladybird which is highly recommended to teach kids to read. I didn’t use flashcards or sent him to I Can Read tuition and didn’t even taught him the phonic system because I wasn’t (and still not) familiar with. It was truly only through reading. So he didn’t find any difficulties when he started his P1 in full English when we moved here (and he didn’t even study in an international school previously when he was still in Jakarta).
As my son grows older, his choice of books also starts to change. He still likes Geronimo Stilton books and he has huge collections of these books, but nowadays he doesn’t seem to show great interest again in Stilton books (probably he is bored because he has another options now).
Although the teachers said that the children should choose another books besides The Stilton books because they’re older now, but I still think these Stilton books bring good impact to the kids. They’re full of imagination and creativity, decorate with wonderful pictures, very funny, and teach good morals and values to the children. They also full of many history facts especially when they go for adventures in new cities, or when they traveled back through time on a time machine. That was when he started to learn about King Tut, Sit Lancelot, Sir Arthur, the discovery of a new place/city/continent, and other things. So I told my friends that we should not discourage them from reading Geronimo Stilton books, but we have to add other books for them to read too.
Once, he was also a big fan of Roald Dahl’s books. After I tried to introduce these books to him for years, he finally showed interest and so far, he claimed that he already read all Dahl’s book that were available in the libraries (school and public libraries). He even said that Dahl was one of the best children book author in the world (and there’s no doubt about it, rite?). And about Roald Dahl………….well, what can I say??? His books are definitely good samples of good writing for kids. Some of his books are quite difficult, but they’re enjoyable and fun ro read.
But then again, his sweet time with Dahl’s books and movies was over and soon he started to find other books. For a long time, I’ve tried to introduce him to Enid Blyton’s books to no success, but as he grew older he started to like some of Blyton’s books such as this one:
Then like me, he is now enjoying mistery books so much. And when you talk about mysteries, there’s definitely one name to talk about the one and only Enid Blyton. These mystery books really teach him about analyzing problems and how to solve problems based on clues given in the books. Even I myself started to read Enid Blyton’s books that he’s been borrowing from the libraries because it reminds me of my childhood when my eyes were glued to these books that I forgot to eat, study, or even take a bath and my mom had to remind me again and again, hahaha………….
What we like the most about Blyton’s books is how she described the kids, the villages, England in the olden days, and all the characters were all seem alive. My two thumbs up is how she always described the kids as well mannered and well behaved kids. They followed the rules, obey their parents, respect the elders, showed very strong friendship and integrity (something that some children lack these days).
The libraries do not have a complete set of all Blyton’s books and it is very difficult to find what we haven’t read in the bookshop, but so far we’re quite than happy to read what we can find.
Besides those books, I never know how……………but he started to read The Time Hunters Books by Chris Blake. Now…………these books, I will definitely say, are “boys books” or “books for boys”. I don’t think girls will be intersted in reading these books…………..it is full of battle, chasing and punishing criminals (from the Stone Age, Cowboys age, Aztec, Outback Australia, Pirates, Vikings, Romans), and inside there are Billy The Kid, Geronimo, King Tut, Shabash, Captain Kido the Pirate, Wyatt Earp, Sir Lancelot, and their weapons plus bravery levels and other things that are absolutely (so far) do not attract me to like them, hahahaha………… I think these are quite good for boys as long as you help to explain things like the battles, the punishment for bad people, etc. Good point is: these books are full of history facts and the boy has not been stopping talking about all the history facts that he had learnt from these books. Too bad it is very difficult to find these books in the bookshop (but so far he has read all the series that are available in the libraries).
There are also cards inside each books and we have to collect them and we can play card games. Plus, there are some game boards that I downloaded and so far we’ve been having fun playing with them. The boy took it to a different level when he decided to make his own Time Hunters Game Board and Cards:
Nowadays, he is over with his Time Hunters books (no more to read as he has finished everything) and is crazy with books from Magic Tree House (again……….he found these in the library without my help). And my oh my……………..these books are highly recommended to read. These are really good children books and are very suitable for children. Without further explanation, let me give one example of this book:
These books tell the story of two children (Jack and Annie) who could travel back to the past when they entered a magic tree house in the forest. They visited cities around the world, met famous people, and had wonderful adventures along the way.
Imagine the boy started to know many things about Dipper (Louis Armstrong’s nickname) at his age while his parents only knew that he was once a jazz musician. After finished reading the book, he started to tell me many things about Dipper by saying “Do you know that….?” and after that gave me quiz to test whether I remembered his explanations or not, hahaha…………
Books from The Magic Tree House Collections are not just story books, but we just found out that there are Fact Tracker Books. Interesting, isn’t it? There are research guide books and non fiction companion to the story books. Jack and Annie will research about the fact behind the fictions.
For example, “Tsunamis and Other Natural Disasters” is a non fiction companion to “High Tide in Hawaii”.
“Rags and Riches” is a non fiction companion to “A Ghost Tale for Christmas Time” and is a research about children in Charles Dickens’ time and the fact behind the fiction.
“Abraham Lincoln” is a fact tracker of “Abe At Last” and will answer these questions: What was it like to grow up in a log cabin, How did Lincoln become president, What was his family like, Why did the United State fight in the Civil War.
“Sharks and Other Predators” is a companion to “Shadow of The Shark” and will research on: How many teeth do sharks have, What are their favorite food, What are some other top predators, How do predators find their prey.
If you want to know how did soccer get started, who are some of its greatest players, what is the world cup, and why is is so popular that you should read about “Soccer” fact tracker.
There will be many things that children can learn from these Magic Tree House Book Collections. So one again, I really recommend these books for children and I am sure they will enjoy them and learn new knowledge in fun ways.
So far, those are the books in the boy’s book list these days. This will change again soon (I believe) and hopefully we will find other good books to read. I can’t wait to see what great adventures that he will find and what new things he will learn through books in the future.
Oh, and one book that he (mostly) never fails to read every night:
The easiest way and most fun way to learn English and to improve the writing skill is through reading, but as my friends say, as the children go to higher classes, the composition writing expectations will be higher and higher and the challenges will be more difficult. I have friends who have children who struggle a lot in this area. I absolutely do not blame the children. If a child doesn’t like to write, it will be very difficult for him to compose a story. Like one of the kid had said “If I can explain everything in just 100 words, why I should make it to 200 words. The simple is the better, right?” Well, he quite got the point……………………
Writing is not just about learning how to compose a story and it’s not just about a talent, but it is also a passion. If a child doesn’t like to write, he/she will find it boring and will end the stories in just few sentences because he/she feels that it’s just enough to tell what’s on his/her mind. When someone asked how the boy could write so well, my answer was always very simple……………“because he loves to write………..”
Yes indeed…………….writing is considered as a hobby for him.. He likes to write, he even already finished some thick notebooks that are full of his writings. His favorite genres are adventure and mystery. When he feels to write, he will grab a pen and a notebook and starts to write for hours.
In our Sydney trip, I already told him that we won’t bring his Ipad, then he asked what should he do when waiting? Then he had and idea “Just bring me my pen and a notebook, I will write stories while waiting……….” For me, it was just Amazing! He has my gene, he likes to write, hahaha…………….
Hopefully, he and I will be able to share his stories one day, and hopefully he will like to read and write as he grows up. Reading is a fun way to learn and improve a child’s writing skill, and writing will enhance a child’s creativity and imagination, teach them to think out of the box, and most of all…………….reading and writing are something that they will remember as the best times of their childhood.