Does your child need the inspiration to write creatively? Creative writing in Singapore may seem like just another subject in school, but it is actually a useful life skill to have. Our experts give their advice on how to help your child get those creative juices flowing!
Children are naturally imaginative. If you want proof, just witness how they are able to transform everyday objects like cardboard boxes into props for pretend play.
So if children are born with creative potential, why is it that so many Singaporean kids view creative writing as a chore or something that must be learned for the sake of exams?
When kids enjoy doing something, they are much more willing to learn it, and therefore excel at it. Read on for five effective ways to inspire a love for creative writing in Singaporean kids.
Do not focus too much on spelling and grammar
When your child shares his or her creative writing with you, remember that this is not a spelling exercise. Refrain from pointing out their spelling and grammatical errors from the get-go. Instead, be supportive of their writing, and make them feel heard.
When you read your child’s creative writing, keep in mind that you are essentially reading your child’s thoughts — and be sensitive and mindful of the way you react to their thoughts on paper. If your child writes about an emotional moment, or attempts to write a humorous scene, or tries out some new vocabulary words in their writing, praise them for being confident enough to experiment.
Hold back any criticism or laughter about how they did it “wrong,” which can feel condescending. The mechanics of writing – the kinks, nuts and bolts, spelling and grammar – can all be worked out later.
To inspire a love of creative writing for kids, first show that you are excited about their work. Celebrate whatever they write. This will lead to more writing.
Go on an ideas hunt
Ah, the dreaded “white paper.” Don’t talk about children – even adults feel stumped when they are facing a blank sheet of paper. It can be intimidating, all right.
Creative writing for kids often involves writing prompts, but another way for budding writers to get the ball rolling is to glean ideas from the world around them; that’s where an “ideas hunt” comes in. The next time you take a walk together, ask your kids to bring along a notebook, keep their eyes peeled for anything interesting, and jot or sketch it down so that they have some ideas to pull from when they write.
An odd-looking plant? A snail shell with no snail inside? A road littered with fragrant, split-open mangoes that fell from the neighbour’s mango tree? A stray cat with a short stub for a tail? See what observations your child makes, and encourage him or her to pick some of them to craft a story around.
Another idea is to go on an ideas hunt around your house. Ask your child what items he or she would save from your home in a fire. Then ask, “What is the one most important item from this collection? Can you write about why you chose it?” Sometimes it is easier for kids to describe and write about a familiar object with memories attached to it.
Play up the writing space and tools
A comfortable, inviting writing space with “special” writing utensils can go a long way in making the practice of creative writing more exciting. Bring your child to a bookstore or stationery store, and let him or her pick a special writing notebook, pencil, and erasers. This gives your kid some ownership over his or her own writing tools. Sometimes, the little things can count – which is similar to how children get more excited about brushing their teeth when they have a new nifty, sparkly toothbrush.
You can even encourage your child to make a creative writing “ideas board,” where they can tack up some images, lists (of their favourite things, words, or books), magazine cut-outs, or favourite quotes and phrases. It can be like a “mood board,” or Pinterest for their creative writing inspiration.
Write with them
To ignite an interest in creative writing in Singaporean kids, parents should demonstrate that they are interested in writing too.
In today’s digital world, many adults tend to write on their electronic devices, be it their phones, computers, or tablets. This means that our children, who learn writing by first writing on paper, do not get as many chances to witness their parents writing like them.
The next time that you write a reminder to your spouse, instead of crafting a text message, jot it down on a post-it or note paper. If you often type your grocery lists or to-do lists on your phone, try writing it down on paper next time and let your child see you doing it. Sure, putting pen to paper might feel archaic for some of us now, but for the sake of setting an example for your child, give it a try.
If you get the chance, when your child is writing, take a seat and write alongside him or her. They will be heartened by your company. Plus, this way they get a real-life demonstration of how enjoyable and accessible writing can be to everyone.
Cultivate creative writing in Singapore by associating it with joy
Many parents look to English enrichment classes in Singapore that focus on creative writing for kids. It is paramount to choose a writing programme that goes beyond teaching the MOE English curriculum. If your child is already showing signs of being a reluctant writer at school, then enrolling him or her in an English enrichment class in Singapore that heaps on more composition worksheets may deter him or her further. The antidote is to help them associate creative writing with joy.
“At MindChamps Reading & Writing Programmes, we discourage rote learning as the child will not be able to thoroughly understand ‘What is learning all about?’ Hence, our programmes are delivered through innovative methods,” said Gloria Goh, Assistant Director of Curriculum and Training, MindChamps Reading & Writing.
With an experiential and imaginative approach based on actual professional writing processes, the MindChamps Writing Programme works hand in hand with what kids are learning at school, while reminding children that writing is fun. Teachers are dedicated to helping children develop their passion and self-confidence for writing. At the same time, the programme equips each child with the 21 tools to unravel and master the mysteries of writing, so that they can excel in the most demanding English exams with their love for language intact.
Written by Jenny Tai