Teaching young students to write is a fundamental skill. Teaching them to write well is what sets the OWIS classroom apart from many traditional schools. Writing well begins with learning how to put ideas together into a cohesive structure and build from there. At OWIS, early learners achieve this by first having the opportunity to discuss their ideas with peers. Through this type of collaboration, students are able to put their thoughts first into words, and then onto paper.
‘Weekend News’ Practice
For instance, we adopted a practice for our preschoolers at OWIS labelled “Weekend News”. This strategy allows children free time on Monday mornings to discuss things that happened to them over the weekend. By first sharing their thoughts verbally, they can practice what they want to say and how they want to say it. Sharing with other students also prompts memories of things that happened over the weekend that they may have forgotten, such as seeing a movie or riding a popular roller-coaster. Morning discussion allows children to gather their thoughts before putting them to paper. This, in turn, makes writing an adventure.
In the beginning, the emphasis is on getting concepts down legibly. But as the year progresses, efforts become more polished. Sentences gain proper structure and punctuation, and spelling improves. Students become more adept at writing, both in concept and grammar.
The Think-Pair-Share Strategy
Think-Pair-Share is an enjoyable concept in kindergarten classes because it allows for early learners to speak freely to a chosen classmate. Our kindergarten teachers pair students together, one-on-one, and facilitate discussion. Children are encouraged first to think and then to share what happened over the weekend. Using an even give-and-take, students listen to what their partner has to say and then share their own thoughts. At the conclusion, students may be asked to share how their partner spent the weekend with the class.
This strategy enhances multiple language skills, including public speaking, active listening, and presentation. Over time, these skills help students improve vocabulary and mental processing, making them more accomplished writers along the way.
Focus Groups for Young Writers
When preschool students work in small focus groups with their teacher, they benefit from one-on-one skills training in sentence structure, spelling, capital letters and more. Children first vocalise their thoughts, and their teacher coaches them as they write their sentence, sounding out words. Children are then given a checklist to compare their work and help them visualise their writing goals. Working together in small focus groups in kindergarten is an effective strategy that helps students understand the writing process from beginning to end, from formulating thoughts to learning how to journal them effectively.
At One World International School, we encourage students to learn through creative exploration. Even preschoolers benefit from choosing the subjects they wish to share and what they want to talk about. Giving children a choice helps them take responsibility for learning. This, in turn, makes them invested in the outcome. Even a subject such as writing is approached in easy, sequential steps that make it easy to build upon. From voicing a thought to writing it down, to writing it down grammatically correct, students in the OWIS early childhood classroom start small and build progressively outward upon those early foundations.
Skills Training for Early Learners at OWIS
Using a variety of techniques such as the three listed here and others, OWIS preschool students master the skills necessary to succeed in school and in life. Writing class alone helps students perfect a number of essential skills, including:
- Effective Listening
- Grammar and Punctuation
- Descriptive Language
- Summarising the main idea
Early learners often don’t realise that they’re learning. Instead, it feels as though they’re building relationships and making friends. In reality, they’re building social and academic skills that will benefit them for the rest of their lives.
Contact One World International School
OWIS has three campuses located in Singapore. Our main campus, OWIS Nanyang, offers world-class education from Kindergarten through Grade 12 (K-12).
(All OWIS photographs in this blog article were taken pre-Covid. The school is adhering to hygiene protocols and social distancing measures as recommended by the CPE and Ministry of Health, Singapore.)