Being specific is a useful skill to teach our children. It can be beneficial in many areas. For one, children often need to give specific answers when answering Science questions. Another area where being specific is important is in writing.
Here is a sentence that can be commonly found in children’s compositions, especially in lower primary:
Last Sunday, my mother brought me to the shopping mall to buy a toy
If we rewrite the sentence by making it more specific, this is what we get:
Last Sunday, my mother brought me to Toys R Us to buy a Barbie Doll.
Just a simple act of replacing the general terms with specific terms can help to paint a picture in the readers’ minds. Readers are able to see Toys R Us and Barbie Doll in their minds.
Here’s another example:
My neighbour and I like to play together in the park after school.
Can you spot the general words in this sentence?
They are ‘neighbour’, ‘play’ and ‘park’.
Now, if we replace these words with more specific terms, the sentence now reads:
David and I like to play soccer together in Bishan Park after school.
Are you able to picture David and the writer, playing soccer in Bishan Park?
Let’s try another sentence:
One afternoon, my brother and I were eating at a food court.
Which general terms can we replace?
How about ‘brother’, ‘eating’ and ‘food court’?
The sentence can be rewritten as:
One afternoon, Jason and I were eating Japanese Ramen at Jurong Point Food Court.
Try this activity with your child.
This is a simple way of getting our kids to write better and it is only one of many ways. As children progress from using general terms to more specific terms, they can be taught to expand their sentences to include more vivid descriptions. The art of story-telling and writing is to paint a picture in the readers’ mind.