All About English Creative Writing
I’ll be blunt and tell you that in Singapore, the glut of “creative writing” centres out there is due to the demand from parents wanting their kids’ Compo marks to improve. Primary schools simply do not spend much time teaching the kids on how to score in this exam component. If the child’s language foundation is not good, it makes sense to use the method of drilling + memorizing + regurgitating the good phrases. This works especially for kids whose first language is NOT English.
In P3/4 the Compo exam is marked upon 20 (10 marks for Content, 10 marks for Language). The kids have to describe a series of sequential pictures, similar to CL zuowen.
In P5/P6, the Compo exam is marked upon 40 (20 marks for Content, 20 marks for Language). The kids have to write on a given topic (Eg “An unfortunate incident”) and tie in any one of the given Word Art pictures.
The strategy for PSLE is therefore different from P3/P4. One very good exam tip that TTA mentioned was for the student to reiterate the topic at least 3 times throughout the Compo (preferably in the concluding paragraph). This is to “remind” the marker that the essay is NOT out of point. Other simple “rules” that I made my son follow were to throw in at least 5 good phrases, and to use a more creative sort of trick to make his essay stand out from the crowd, Eg a plot twist, or flashback, or reflective point of view, or narrate from the point of view of an inanimate object, whatever.
IMO, exams are not the place to let loose on creativity, cos the markers still expect a fairly typical kind of template answer. I allow my boy free reign on his creative writing when he types out his adventure stories on his laptop. He will write it in the style of a diary (Minecrafter point of view), or a Beyblade challenger etc. He prefers typing to using a pen to write on paper.
To sum up, creative writing is not the same as Compo writing, not in my eyes.
Joyous Learning Singapore Consolidated Review
While many young Singaporeans strive to keep up with academics, with their parents worrying over which tuition centre or private tutor would best suit them, there are those who happen to simply be ahead. Owe it to luck in the genetics pool, something the mother ate during pregnancy, or perhaps larger-than-average-sized brains, but some kids just happen to sit more comfortably ahead of the academic curve.
For these children, participating in extracurricular activities is important to keep them stimulated and engaged enough in school. Academic work might not just cut their thirst and curiosity for knowledge and exploratory learning, especially in their preferred field of interest. Children who have a deeper knack for learning Mathematics, for example, have this constant itch to acquire more knowledge and skills, and are usually excited to try out their problem-solving skills on difficult or challenging questions. These grow up to be children who are frequent joiners in local math Olympiads and competitions and become math educators or experts later in life. Another example would be children who show an inclination towards words and language at an early age and at school age become such bookworms or so-called “writers” of their own journals or composition pages. In adult life, these children might just grow up to become respectable journalists or renowned fictionists.
Given that children of varying learning needs have varying strengths and gaps when it comes to education and overall learning, it is important that parents have a variety of appropriate options to address their child’s needs. That is why in Singapore, terms such as “tuition centre” and “enrichment centre”—which to outsiders or foreigners may seem similar in meaning–have their own distinctions.
What makes a good enrichment centre?
In recent years, because of the rise of the idea of “kiasu” or “fear of missing out” (to other children) and along with it, “kiasu parents,” Singaporean parents have become more lenient about spending for their child’s education–sometimes even shelling out big bucks just to get them to the best school, the best tuition, and in the best enrichment centre. Whatever it takes to make their child succeed in academics and acquire a useful skills here and there to give him a leg up in Singapore’s competitive culture—a parent will do it, only because he believes that the best investment he can make is for his child, and the best legacy he can give his child is quality education.
But when it comes to enrichment centres, how can you tell that your child is getting the best experience? Here are a few ways to know if your child is in the hands of a quality enrichment centre.
• Unless we’re talking about an enrichment centre devoted to solely one subject or field, such as a math enrichment centre or a language enrichment centre, a good enrichment centre offers a variety of academic or non-academic subjects and interesting extra-curricular programmes for kids of varying age groups to help broaden their horizons, even at such an early age, and give them new positive learning experiences. Some great examples would be ballet classes or swimming classes for toddlers from 18 months to 3 years old, music school or early mathematics for music or math-inclined preschoolers aged 3 to 7 years old, or writing or foreign language classes for primary school children from 7 to 12 years old.
• A good enrichment centre has a fun and patient teaching staff. Because of the classroom set-up most enrichment centres have, which is focused on the instruction of non-academic and extra-curricular subjects, teaching can be a lot less rigid and structured than that of the traditional classroom setup. That said, teachers who work at enrichment centres, with only a small group of students before them, have a lot less to think about and can focus more on paying attention to each individual student’s needs.
• A good enrichment centre creates an environment conducive to awakening children’s natural curiosity and thirst for learning. Through a combination of well-designed curricula, thoughtful and creative pedagogical methods and strategies, and a warm and nurturing pool of educators, a quality enrichment centre creates a safe and fun learning where students are free to make mistakes and learn from them, be true to their own interests, and broaden their perspective not just academically but holistically.
Fast facts about “Joyous Learning”
Weekdays: 1 pm – 9:30 pm (except Tuesdays 7:30 pm)
Weekends: 9:00 am – 6:30 pm
“We are a boutique enrichment and tuition centre that believes in holistic constructive engagement. We do this by designing the conditions for joyous learning, from curricula down to classrooms. Guided by nurturing teachers, our young learners lose their fear of making mistakes and learn to appreciate learning for what it is—a joyous process.
Joyous Learning is made up of a group of like-minded and capable educators who care about the overall well-being and development of our young charges. We believe that happy and motivated students learn better, which eventually translates into better results. Designing and delivering lessons that creatively engage students require a lot more effort and energy than administering standard drills, but it’s all worth it.” (From the Joyous Learning website)
What students and parents have to say
1. From the Joyous Learning Website (https://www.joyouslearning.com.sg/)
Based on these parents’ testimonials on the Joyous Learning website, it is apparent that one of their most sought-after services is their Gifted Education Programme or GEP courses for students who are more imaginative and creative than their peers. Even the teachers’ approach, which is described by parents to be “constructive, joyous, kind, patient, and humorous,” shows that this enrichment centre favours a fun and creative environment than a rigorous and highly-structured one. Co-curricular activities such as creative writing are encouraged and obviously place a high value on these parents’ priorities list, which is why Joyous Learning’s services as an “enrichment boutique” are a great option for these parents.
2. From Google Reviews
Based on these reviews by parents from the search engine Google, students of Joyous Learning seem to be enjoying their non-academic courses like The Thinking Writer, a creative writing class for young aspiring journalists, or their three-day ebook story-writing workshop with story planning & web publishing. These courses are for those young children who are already aware of their interests and talents, particularly in the field of journalism or creative writing. Also, parents whose children dabble in sports such as chess favour the Joyous Learning as an “enrichment boutique” as it has a less-structured and fun environment, as well as friendly and helpful staff and teachers, that encourage attendance in their children, where their children “look forward to every week lesson,” as attested to by a parent.
In essence, these are what parents and students have to say about Joyous Learning as gathered from online reviews and testimonials.
1. Joyous Learning has a pool of fun and nurturing teachers. With its curricula aligned with that of Singapore’s Ministry of Education (MOE), Joyous Learning’s curriculum writers and teachers are mostly education sector experts and National Institute of Education (NIE)-trained educators who strive to make learning different from traditional classroom instruction by being fun, engaging, and nurturing to students. Joyous Learning believes that by doing this, children realize that it is okay to make mistakes—a crucial part of learning—and they begin to relax and see learning as something fun and natural to them. And when students enjoy learning, Joyous believes that students can accomplish more than what they can imagine.
More so, Joyous Learning takes pride in its pool of teachers. Trained to bring out the best in every student, their teaching staff aim to impart not only school-based knowledge but in-depth knowledge as well, in the process attempting to create a warm and constructive classroom environment that can engage students’ attention and encourage their participation—important steps in letting them absorb new knowledge and ideas.
2. Joyous Learning creates a conducive environment for enrichment learning. As a boutique enrichment and tuition centre that believes in the idea of a holistic and constructive engagement, Joyous Learning develops and designs a conducive environment for learning, from the curricula to the classroom setup. The number of students per each of their class is limited to a maximum of 8 or 9 to ensure that each student will receive the attention that he or she needs in order to grasp and absorb knowledge. More so, Joyous Learning claims to have gone to great lengths just to create a relaxed and homely environment that will be helpful to each child’s learning. For children who are especially burdened with the rigidness and rigours of everyday structured environments, such as their homes and their classrooms, this can be a sigh of relief as they can find a place that will allow them to “let their hair down” and productively spend time on things that spark their interests.
3. Joyous Learning works for parents seeking for enrichment for their advanced or talented children. Based on the reactions and comments of various parents, Joyous Learning works for their children who are in need of enrichment. This means that their children are suited to the more fun and relaxed way of learning things that are outside of the school curriculum, and that these learn better in a nurturing and comfortable environment. However, we have to bear in mind that different children have different needs. Some may benefit from a less-structured and more relaxed environment because their school and household environment are already filled with a set of responsibilities and daily to-dos (hence these children get to ease a little bit when in a less rigid setup). Some, however, are in dire need of structure, whether in learning or in their personal growth, and would need to be instructed by an authority figure, say, a parent or a teacher. Whatever instruction and guidance it is that your child may need, it is always best to first observe and assess before jumping on to the enrichment bandwagon.
What we have to say
Enrolling your child in an enrichment programme is a good way of letting him know that: a) not all of his childhood years will be spent poring over homework, examinations, and being the best, academically, and; b) that you as a parent are willing to support his endeavours, even if they non-academic or extra-curricular in nature, just as long as he tries his best in school, and that these endeavours help make him a productive citizen and a good human being. Regardless of what interests your child—whether it be writing, solving math problems, or playing soccer, it is best to stay by his side and support him. For children who even at an early age show signs of enthusiasm for math, iMath is a great option. With a community of math experts and math enthusiasts, your child can develop a life-long learning for mathematics in a supportive and nurturing online environment. More importantly, because iMath combines the best of math learning with modern technology, your child can finally do what he loves best—learn more about and be challenged by math—right at the comfort of your own home. With iMath, you can finally make home conducive for your child’s learning—download the iMath app today!