There are basically two kinds of writing:
Writing for exams, however, is different. There are restrictions. The main purpose for such writing is to get as high a score as possible. This also means that you would want to write what the examiners or markers like to read (unfortunately).
As much as I enjoy teaching kids to write creatively and on topics that interest them, the top concern for most parents is, "How can you help my child get a higher mark in their composition exams?"
Which is why I fully understand the attempts of parents, teachers and tutors to get children to memorise model compositions and phrases. There is only one purpose: to SCORE for exams. It is almost like a desperate, "I-have-no-other-choice" attempt.
For children who are very weak in composition and if exams are just a few weeks (or days!) away, I guess getting them to memorise some phrases is better than not doing anything at all!
But if you want your child to develop good writing skills beyond scoring for exams, daily, consistent writing is key.
How to Develop Good Writing Skills
1. Teach your child to plan his/her story before writing.
Most children's compositions are underdeveloped. A common comment by teachers is "Please elaborate your story."
Planning is a good way to get children to stretch their imagination and thinking before writing, as most kids simply write whatever comes to their minds without much thinking.
The problem is, during exams, kids do not have much time to write a detailed plan. How can they plan and write a full composition within a miserable 40 to 50 minutes?
So, it is important to teach them the skill of planning in their daily writing practices. Once they have internalised the planning process, it will be easier for them to spend 3 to 5 minutes during exams to quickly jot down a plan before writing.
Here's a simple plan that can be used for most school compositions:
1. Introduction (Beginning)
This is the beginning of your story (Paragraph 1).
Introduce your main character.
What is the setting of the story?
Where is the place?
What time of the day was that?
How can you make your paragraph 1 interesting so that readers will be drawn to read on?
There is usually a problem in most composition topics.
What is the problem in the story?
How did the character(s) feel when faced with the problem?
Do not just state the problem. Describe the characters' feelings and actions. This is what gives life to your story.
If there is a problem, there must be a solution.
How was the problem solved?
Who solved the problem?
Describe the characters' actions when solving the problem.
Describe the characters' feelings when the problem was solved.
4. Conclusion (Ending)
The ending of a story is just as important as its beginning. Most children spend a lot of time and effort writing a great beginning but not the ending. It is also common for children to end their stories abruptly, especially when pressed for time during exams.
Which is why it is important to plan your ending before writing.
How do you want readers to feel when they have finished reading your story?
Is there a proper closure?
For school compositions, teachers tend to like to read endings that include either one of the following:
- What lesson(s) did the character(s) learn?
- Is there a moral or idiom that you can use to conclude the story? State it.
- What is the topic of the composition? Bring in the topic.
The key to good story development is great planning.
Get your child to internalise the planning process.
Download the FREE Story Planning Sheet here: