Writing That Makes Sense

The way you measure a society’s soul is by the way that it treats its children.
Nelson Mandela

Kidz Newz no. 134 – 14th May 2014

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Writing That Makes Sense

When I am not attending to Kidz-Fiz-Biz I teach English to adults (ESL). As such, I come across all manner of grammatical errors. When students reach a point of wanting to take public exams like the Cambridge series or the IELTS they are at a high level. They write essays that are pretty good but invariably they use tautology, they repeat themselves further down the essay or they simply say things that don’t make sense or are contradictory. Something has gone wrong along the way in the learning process. And so it is with children when they are learning to write the English language (or most languages for that matter where the grammar can be somewhat complicated).

Of course the old adage holds true – practice makes perfect – but if you don’t have a good grasp of what you’re supposed to be doing in the first place, you just practice the mistakes, thus reinforcing them. I’m a great believer in the K.I.S.S. principle – Keep It Simple Sunshine! It’s a great rule for children as well as adults. What are you trying to say? Well, say it. When it is convoluted we don’t understand what we’re reading. And I’m sure the author has got lost too. We don’t want to put children off writing by constantly harping on their mistakes, but rather encourage the creative and communicative process and the exercise of writing regularly. On the other hand, if mistakes are glossed over in the desire to encourage the process of writing, at what point do we draw the line and recognize that it is also important to get the grammar right?

For teachers, it is vital that the modelling be correct. Some teachers are dyslexic. That is not a failing but a minor impediment. If you suffer with this then get someone else to check what you’re sending to parents or planning on putting on the board. How often do we see journalists writing articles that make no sense, use incorrect grammar, spelling mistakes or incomplete sentences? I tell my students never to read the papers because the modelling is so appalling. Isn’t that telling us something?

For pre-literate children, simple sequencing in their drawings can be a wonderful exercise. Write down for them what they say is happening in each picture. Also, when they are familiar with a story, get them to tell the story using the illustrations as a prompt. (How many toddlers get cross with impatient parents who want to skip to the end of the book by deleting some text? They need to hear every word, they need the rhythm of the language and above all, they need the repetition – not to mention precious one-on-one time with the parent.)

The best start for young children (babies included) is reading books. They cannot have too many books read to them – so stimulating to the imagination, they’re entertaining, but above all, books stimulate the desire in children to write their own stories. Encourage them to write well. Please!

EYES 2014 (Early Years in Education Society)

For those of you in Western Australia, it is the EYES Conference in Perth this weekend. I will be there so please drop by my stall and say hello. I will have lots of goodies on super special for EYES visitors only.

ECCPA 2014 (Early Childhood Conference of Performing Arts)

This conference will be held in Melbourne on the weekend of 16th-17th August. I will be presenting on Scarf Magic – using scarves in your music and movement class – as well as running a trade table so if you are planning on being there, make sure you drop by to say hello.

Quotes of the Week

If you cannot do great things, do small things in a great way.
– John Dilbeck

Desire is the starting point of all achievement, not a hope, not a wish, but a keen pulsating desire which transcends everything.
– John Dilbeck

The computer allows you to make mistakes faster than any other invention, with the possible exception of handguns and tequila.
– Mitch Ratcliffe


Some headlines for your amusement.


Some comments from the recent ASME Summer School 2014 –

What was the most useful thing you learned today?

Colour-matching sticks & wake-up fairy;
Enjoy what you do – smile – take time to communicate and relate;
Happy Sticks
Malta wedding dance

About The Author

Marlene Rattigan B.A., Dip. Ed. (ECS), CELTA

Marlene Rattigan is an Early Childhood teacher, a teacher of English as a Second Language, and from 1987-2000 was a nationally accredited fitness leader. Her background is in music education. A keen interest in motor development in children led to the creation of Kidz-Fiz-Biz which she taught successfully for 13 years. Marlene also conducts workshops for children, teachers and parents at schools, in the community and at festivals. She has produced teaching manuals complete with audio CDs which are an extension of her ‘Kidz-Fiz-Biz’ program.

PO Box 6894, East Perth WA 6892, Australia
T: +61 8 9325 1204 M: +61 (0) 410 64 2781 E: info@kidzfizbiz.com

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Until next time … continue being a legend in your classroom.

Marlene Rattigan, Editor
Kidz Newz

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