Updated: Feb 21
Starting a composition on a blank page can seem really scary, especially for children who struggle with writing. A parenting tip: they don’t have to start from scratch!
At AGrader, we believe in building strong foundations and using the right systems to guide our students on how to score well in English composition.
In this blog post, learn how to apply the AGrader system which can be used for the PSLE English paper. The system starts with the framework in Plan Your Plot and is followed by the checklist Show, Don’t Tell which would help your child to edit and improve their school composition writing.
Then, see how the AGrader system comes together with a model English composition that shows examples of the techniques and frameworks in action.
Plan Your Plot
We’ll let you in on a little secret: most story plots actually follow a similar structure. If your child gets overwhelmed with starting on a blank page, remind them that they don’t have to start from scratch each time.
Don’t believe us? Think back to the beloved movie Frozen (or watch it again) and see if you can identify which part of the movie ties in with the elements below.
A background that introduces the reader to the who, what and where of the story world
A problem occurs and rising action is given to build tension (by creating internal or external conflict, for example) in the lead-up to the Climax of the story
The most exciting part of the story and where the composition question must be addressed. In the example given below, this is where the memorable event happens.
Events that follow the climax of the story and lead the reader to the conclusion. A little like cooling down stretches after an exercise.
Here, lingering issues and loose ends should be tied up. Endings can include lessons learned or reflections from the story’s characters.
Beyond movies, it also works with compositions your child would have to write. Read the model composition below - A Memorable Event to see plot structures and writing techniques ‘in action'.
How to Use Plan Your Plot
Take time to plan the plot – don’t skip this step, even if it feels better to start writing right away. Having the structure gives your child something to return to and helps them check if they’ve covered all the required points.
If it helps, they can start with writing the outline as bullet points. This way, it’d be easier for them to check against the following questions: Have they covered all the elements? Have the key points been addressed? If so, they’re ready to pen their first draft.
Show, Don’t Tell
Show, Don’t Tell is a guiding principle our students at AGrader use to write more descriptively. This helps to get readers’ attention and experience the world your child has created on a page.
For instance, which of the two sentences below helped you to imagine the meal better?
I had a good dinner.
I enjoyed crispy fried chicken with chilli so spicy that I had three glasses of water after.
The second sentence, right? That’s the beauty of good descriptive English composition writing. It’s why we encourage students to anchor their writing in the principle of show, don’t tell.
To help primary school students enhance their creative writing skills, our writing techniques checklist can be used to assess whether they have achieved their writing objectives in describing key characters, objects, or settings. Our checklist is a useful tool in enhancing creative writing for primary students.
They don’t have to use all of them all the time. Having a checklist simply gives them a reference to review their work or helps them get started if they’re stuck.
How to Use Show, Don’t Tell
Your child should complete their draft first. It’s important to review against Plan Your Plot to check that all their key ideas have been included. Once this is done, they can apply writing techniques from the checklist below. This would guide them to improve their descriptions to write a good composition for Primary school.
Share it with your child and see how it helps them in writing compositions.
Once your child has revised their first draft, it’s time to review and edit. Can they help the reader to better connect with the characters or scenes with figurative language? This includes similes, metaphors and idioms.
Use of Figurative Language
They can also do a final check for grammatical errors they may have overlooked and improve sentence structures. It’s fine to start the writing process by listing ideas. But if the story still reads like a list at this stage, consider using connectors, adverbs or even begin sentences with emotions. These changes would help the story to flow better.
Good writing is a skill that can be learned. As with so many other skills, your child can get better with practice on their own (Read more on how to accomplish this at home). They can also get feedback from experienced and encouraging educators, like those at AGrader, to improve on learning gaps and gain confidence in writing.
We hear you – the English language can be challenging to learn because it's seen as ‘intangible’. At AGrader Tuition Centre, our experienced English tutors break this down to help our students learn concrete steps to improve their Primary-level and PSLE Compositions. The frameworks and step-by-step English composition guides in this blog post are great examples of high-quality resources our students get access to. Enroll your child in our primary English tuition in Singapore today and let our expert tutors guide them towards success. Find out more about how we can help your child excel with the creative writing lessons.