Monday, 26 May 2014

Boring, Still Must Write!

If you guys have been faithfully reading my blog, you would know that Isaac, my 6 going on 7 year old, can write pretty well - for his age, at least. You would have seen his writing here, here and here. So, yes, he can write pretty competently. Thus, it has been very frustrating for me, when I noticed that his recent writing for his school journal assignments have been very badly written. I have had quite a few quarrels with Isaac lately because of this. Generally we start quarreling when I want him to rewrite or amend or expand, and he is unwilling to do so. What frustrates me, is NOT that he does not churn out grade A work, but that he is obviously not trying. No effort. 

We just recently argued about this, and at the height of our exchange, Isaac burst out:"I'm sick of journal writing! It's soooo B !!!" And, B stands for Boring. It's one of the words I ban the kids from saying in our household, so to avoid saying the forbidden word, Isaac says its initial. I instinctively wanted to scold him "Boring, still must write!!!" when he made that outburst. But I didn't, for he was right. It was boring, not the writing, but the topics he was told to write about. They went something like this, week after week:
- What I did during Chinese New Year.
- My Favourite Food
- My Favourite Sport
- My Favourite Sandwich
- My Favourite Hobby
- What I did during the Easter weekend
- What I did on Labour Day
- What I did on Vesak Day 

For basically what Isaac would do, is that he'd simply reply the question point blank, or list down what he did that day and he says he is done. We have had to give him hints and teach him on how to expand and write more about the subject topic in order to prompt him on. So far, we have let him slide so long as he does a passable job, but I wish he did try harder. For himself. For we would ask him "Are you proud that you wrote this? Are you happy to announce to the world that this is written by you?" He would look away and not meet our eyes, in shame. Then he would grudgingly say "Alright! Alright! I'd do it again!"
However, I do agree with him that the topics are quite B and very uninspiring indeed. BUT it's homework, you have to get homework done!? And if you get very unimaginative test or exam setters during actual examinable assignments - you still have to write!!! But I knew that right now, Isaac, a Primary 1 student for less than 6 months, would find it difficult to understand that. It is also fortunate that the journal assignments are not graded, nor does the teacher correct the grammar or spelling mistakes - it was obviously an exercise to encourage the children to write. That's not happening though. On the contrary....
Isaac generally enjoys writing... but I guess it is difficult when topics are uninspiring!

On a more constructive note, I decided to brainstorm and think of ways which I can suggest to Isaac, to help him write better, for his journal entries for his school journal, despite the B topics. Oh, why do I ban the word "boring"? Coz I always tell the kids "Don't let me hear you say something is boring. Don't ever say that. Since you know it is boring, then you should find something or some way to make it more interesting! Don't just complain and whine that it is boring! That does nothing to help the boring situation at all. Instead, think of something you can do to make things more fun and interesting. Say "why don't we do this ____ instead? That would make it more interesting!" And be open to suggestions!!!No saying "Boring!"" Okay, so maybe the kids abide by my rules not to say the B word just so they don't have to hear that entire monologue, but I say it anyway! Hah!

So what did I come up with? Not many ideas, I'm afraid. Think the B topics are weighing dead on me too...

Idea #1: Pick one funny or happy moment during that day that you were told to write about and expand on that.
Idea #2: Think of a funny story that is related to the subject topic and say that. (Though there is a danger of going off topic with this method"
Idea #3: Illustrate his journal entries with some drawings

Of the three ideas I gave him, he frowned at me for the first two and said of the third, wide-eyed "Can draw ah? Later teacher scold."  To which I hesitated for a split second before saying:"I think it should be fine to draw in your journal, but you STILL MUST WRITE." He rolled his eyes and sighed. 

So you can imagine my relief when I got an email from Monsters Under the Bed inviting me and my readers to a free writing clinic entitled How Your Child Can Be a Better Writer! Wow, what great timing! I'm going for this talk for sure!

Monsters Under the Bed are the good people behind the very fun writing camp - EnchantInk - Isaac went to in March. The writing clinic is meant for their existing students' parents, as well as their upcoming June camp MonsterHuntInk parents, as well as... Tan Family Chronicle readers! All you have to do is to register for the talk at this link.  And it's not just a writing clinic for the parents, you can bring your children along too if you want the trainers do an assessment for the kids. While you are listening to the talk, your children will be in the next room with the trainers who will assess your child, to explore their writing weaknesses and let them know what they can do to improve, as well as recommend books for them to read. Read more about this event at the registration link too.

How Your Child Can Be a Better Writer - writing clinic by Monsters Under the Bed
Date: June 1 2014 (Sunday)
Time: 1- 2pm 
Venue: National Design Centre (111 Middle Road) 
What to bring: Children's written work ( Can be either from school or home ) 

Places are limited, so be sure to sign up asap! I have already reverted with my RSVP and we'd be there for this talk this Sunday. I hope the talk is as interesting as their EnchantInk camp was, and I hope that the MonsterHuntInk camp Isaac is attending in the first week of June will be as fun as it sounds too! We understand that there are still a handful of places left for this camp for 7 - 12 year olds - sign up and we can see you at the camp too! Hunting Monsters sound like such fun! Wish we had such camps too when we were young!
Check out Monster Under the Bed's creative writing camp MonsterHuntInk

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