Edit: As suggested by my friend DinoMama, I have included the compositions we did in the workshop! I have also included a paragraph (in italics) with a great composition tip!
I’m back with yet another post about another Marshall Cavendish Education workshop that we attended! This time it was the How to Write composition class.
The key learning objectives of this class is:
- Differentiate the various types of writing and identify the components for each type of writing
- Evaluate the quality of compositions so that they can guide your child in writing
- Plan and carry out effective writing activities at home
- Hands-on activities for both parent and child
Now, let me give you a little background about us. I have been in Marketing Communications my whole life, and I have a Masters in International Marketing. So, naturally, when my eldest entered primary school, I thought English and composition would be a cinch. But it so wasn’t! I almost strangled him trying to get him to write something, and sought help from a friend. She is not a therapist and didn’t provide any counselling sessions for me, but she shared an enrichment school that helped her sons, and by a stroke of luck, they were just about to open a centre within walking distance from our home! I will come back to the strangling later in this post.
This workshop, like the Chinese Composition workshop, was a parent-child workshop. It is not easy for a trainer to address both children and parents at the same time, and I found in both workshops, there were certain periods where the children are a little restless. So kids will tend to get fidgety. However, it’s been said many times that children in this day and age need to learn more patience, so don’t worry, just make them suck it up :D. In this workshop, Trainer Pamela kept the children engaged by having them read out the various sample text, which I think worked pretty well.
What else did we learn? We all know that a composition must have an introduction, body and conclusion, but in reality it is more difficult to teach this to children who have little experience in writing compositions. We examined the various techniques of writing,
The last part of the workshop was a hands-on session. Trainer Pamela gave us the outline of her Introduction, and each parent-child pair worked on a plan for the rest of the composition together. Then each parent and child wrote their own composition. With a plan we found that it was so much easier to write rather than going off topic and finding a way to come back to the topic again. Trainer Pamela mentioned that if you are totally off theme, you can only get a maximum of 4 marks out of 40! So planning is really important and can sometimes take a mere 5 minutes.
As Trainer Pamela also told us in the session, this exercise is very insightful because it gives parents a chance to actually sit down and write a composition, and children often like it when they can do something together with their parents.
Here’s where it got interesting. My dear son, who is always so prone to distractions, had to be reminded a few times to focus on his work. I finished my piece earlier, and was pretty happy with it. Then we exchanged it, and I read his. I was really pleasantly surprised by his work! He managed to write more succinctly and even though we had the same composition plan, the stories were slightly different. Ok so he had some grammatical errors, but still. It was really a proud and yet humbling moment for me. It was also interesting to read what the other kids and parents had written.
These are the compositions we came up with. Some other parent child pairs wrote along the lines of a noisy neighbour and the police being called in, but Trainer Pamela mentioned something that struck a cord with me – if the scenario was an elderly person with a grandchild on a bus, chances are everyone is going to write from the point of view of the elderly person or the child, so to craft a unique and memorable composition, you could opt to write from the point of view of say, the bus driver instead! So for our composition, we ended it differently from what most would expect.
As with many of the other Marshall Cavendish Education workshops, I liked that this workshop helped to give parents a better understading into the PSLE requirements. Our primary school does not offer (or hasn’t yet, anyway) much insight into the primary school curriculum, so I found the workshop very useful. It’s common for many parents to say “It wasn’t like this when we were in school”, and the best way to find out how it IS now, is to attend such workshops to know more.
Oh yes, and I promised I would come back to the strangling. I was completely taken aback by being outshone by my son’s composition, especially since I came armed with a Masters degree. And I think it just goes to show that you can be good at something, like writing, or whatever, but when it comes to exams, what’s crucial is that you need to know what is required and how to study smart! My husband always tells the boys, “You have to play the game.” and I always roll my eyes because I don’t think they understand the metaphor (they’re 7 and 9, for goodess sake). But he is right. Somewhat. At any rate, I feel I am now much better armed to help my eldest and his siblings in years to come!
You can find out more about the various workshops from the Marshall Cavendish website (warning: the website isn’t the most user friendly!), or their Facebook page. They still have a few more workshops for the rest of the year coming up, and later in the year as well. I’m convinced I need to attend more of such workshops!
English – How to Write Confidently & Creatively
English – How to Excel and Speak Well in English Oral
Math – Stretching Your Child’s Mathematical Abilities
Chinese – Effective Strategies for Chinese Composition
MCE Science Workshop for Parents by Kids R Simple
PSLE English Workshop for Parents by Kids R Simple
PSLE English Workshop for Students by Kids R Simple
Math – Heuristics Explained for Intermediate and Advanced Learners by DinoMama
Math – P3 and P4 Math Coaching Workshop by Xavvylicious
Math – Problems Solving with Essential Know-hows and Tools by ilovedefamily
Disclaimer: I was invited to participate in this workshop by Marshall Cavendish Education, all opinions are 100% my own. And all effort provided by my son and myself in improving our composition writing will also be 100% our own!!