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English 7-8

How Primary School Students Can Improve Their Writing Skills

In this post, we explain how you can help your child prepare for the first year of High School.


High school is a big transition for most students, and involves a serious step up in terms of skills. How do you prepare your child for Year 7 English? This blog will give you some methods to help your child improve their English writing skills.

The NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA), provides a set of stage goals for students to achieve throughout each stage of development.


The Year 7 and 8 English Expectations For Your Child

The table below presents the stage expectations for Year 7 and 8 English, known as Stage 4, and an explanation of what this means. Understanding these expectations will help you understand how to help your child meet these requirements.

Let’s have a look:

Table: NESA Stage 4 Outcomes
EN 4-1A
Responds to and composes texts for understanding, interpretation, critical analysis, imaginative expression and pleasure This outcome requires an understanding that texts serve many different purposes, and that we can read them in a variety of ways.
EN 4-2A
Effectively uses a widening range of processes, skills, strategies and knowledge for responding to composing texts in different media and technologies This outcome requires that students understand the difference between different media. The way students discuss a film will be different to the way they discuss news articles. Additionally, students will be required to write about these in a variety of forms from articles to essays to creative pieces.
EN 4-3B
Uses and describes language forms, features and structures of texts appropriate to a range of purposes, audiences and contexts This outcome requires that students understand how to discuss texts appropriately depending on the purpose of your discussion.

An example of this would be a student giving a speech to parents as opposed to one delivered to other students.

EN 4-4B
Makes effective language choices to creatively shape meaning with accuracy clarity and coherence This outcome requires students to use the correct language when writing. This is dependent on what students are being asked to write.

For example, students should not use informal or colloquial language in an essay.

EN 4-5C
Thinks imaginatively, creatively, interpretively and critically about information, ideas and arguments to respond to and compose texts This outcome requires students to read the information they are given in a variety of ways.

For example, a student may be asked to write a story using an image as a stimulus. Alternatively, they may be asked to analyse the specific elements of the picture.

EN 4-6C
Identifies and explains connections between and among texts Texts can often be connected in more ways than one. Think about how a text may have the same message as another text. These connections can be explicit (obvious) or implicit (hidden in the text).

Students need to be able to identify these connections.

EN 4-7D
Demonstrates understanding of how texts can express aspects of their broadening world and their relationship with it Every text a student studies will have some connection to the outside world, whether intentionally or unintentionally.

The composer might be attempting to convey a message about some aspect of society or, alternatively, it may reflect society.

EN 4-8D
Identifies, considers and appreciates cultural expression in texts This outcome requires students to understand the ways in which different cultural views can be conveyed through texts.
EN 4-9D
Uses, reflects on and assesses their individual and collaborative skills for learning This outcome requires students to collaborate with other students on projects. This requires students to effectively communicate amongst each other.

Students must also be able to reflect on and criticise their own strengths and weaknesses.


What does this mean for your child?

Examining this table, it becomes apparent that reading and writing are the two abilities central to almost all of these outcomes.

A child’s reading and writing skills are interrelated.

Thus, if you want to improve your child’s written English, you need to improve their reading too!

To help you do this, here are five simple tips to help improve your primary school aged child’s written English:


1. Read With Your Child

In Australia today, children are reading less and less and their reading skills are in decline[1]. Yet reading is a fundamental part of learning. To help students develop a passion for reading it is important to engage with them in it. Just because your child no longer wants a bedtime story read to them doesn’t mean you can’t participate in their reading.

  • To do this, start by finding out what books your child is reading.
  • Ask them questions about the characters, plot, and writing.

This will help them respond to their texts more comprehensively. Sometimes children skim when they read, or don’t take the time to digest the ideas in their texts. Showing an interest in their reading by asking them questions will encourage this kind of engagement without pressuring them.

Find the time to read the books that your child is reading. This will demonstrate to your child that you are interested in their learning. You will then be able to discuss the texts, and their merits and weaknesses, together. If you’re looking for some ideas for a reading list, read our Year 7 & 8 (Stage 4) Recommended Reading List!



2. Encourage Them to Read Widely

Students need to read more than the texts that they are set for school. Many of the outcomes for Stage Four require students to have a wide understanding of texts and text types. This can only be attained through a consistent reading practice.

While it is great that children may become engrossed in a series such as Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, or The Mortal Instruments, they must read other kinds of texts too.

Because we learn through imitation, reading non-fiction texts is an excellent way to improve one’s vocabulary and grammar.

Encourage them to read some non-fiction texts like biographies and histories and popular science. This will introduce them to a variety of different writing styles and forms. Matrix English students are presented with a wide range of texts to read and learn from.



3. Read Over Their Written Work With Them

Does your child proof and edit their work? They should! It is important for your child to develop a healthy editing habit. They need to learn to reread their work and learn to spot and correct errors.

To help them develop this practice take the following steps:

  1. Read over their written work with them.
  2. Look for any awkward expressions, grammatical errors, or spelling errors.
  3. Rather than correcting the mistakes, draw your child’s attention to the sentence and have them read it out aloud. This will assist them to spot their errors and correct them themselves.

This process will develop their editing skills. Matrix students are taught comprehensive editing and proofing skills. It is very important that young high school student learn the practice of checking over their work. This will be essential for them in later years.

This is important for you as a parent, as it will enable you to track your child’s development and see their strengths and weaknesses.


4. Interest Your Child in Writing Outside of Schoolwork

Does your child write outside of their schoolwork? Writing letters and emails to family, poems, or short stories is a healthy practice for students to have.

Remember, fostering your child’s writing skills doesn’t end with their homework. You should interest them in other forms of communication.

Letter writing, creative writing, and blogs are great ways to encourage them to write and practice their written English skills.

Encourage them to write letters to family members regularly. This will make them practice reflecting on their experiences and learn how to communicate these experiences.

Matrix students learn how to develop their creative writing skills and how to write in a wide range of modes. This will help students communicate later in life in both academic and professional situations.

Creative writing is a great past time for students to engage in to reflect on their own experiences, but to also imitate those authors they enjoy.

  • Help your child come up with ideas for stories and characters.
  • After they’ve written something, take the time to read their work and develop it with them.

Not everyone enjoys writing fiction, though. If your child prefers non-fiction writing, try the following:

  • Write articles about things happening in their school or neighbourhood,
  • Start a blog about a hobby or interest,
  • Keep a journal or diary.

These will encourage a child to consider how they communicate ideas and experiences.

Remember, they need not do this on their own, you can help them set up a blog. You might consider combining this with your reading together – you could start a joint book review blog with your child!



5. Play Word Games

Does your child struggle with their vocabulary? You can help them with that! Expanding your child’s vocabulary will go a long way towards improving their written communication skills.


Matrix Students do tasks each lesson that increase their vocabulary, but there are other things you can do with them to help, too!

  • Playing word games like Scrabble, Pictionary, and crosswords are good ways to add to your child’s knowledge. Often these games are difficult for children to play on their own, but they do make good fun family activities!
  • For example, when you play Scrabble with your child, test that they know the definitions of the words they use. Get them to test yours, too!
  • If you don’t know the definition, looking the meaning of the words up together will teach your child to research things they don’t know rather than pretending that they do. This is an essential skill for later school levels.
  • Working through crosswords together will improve their critical thinking skills. Crosswords require a wide vocabulary and an understanding of different definitions and puns.

Taking this activity-based approach to English learning will introduce your child to the entertaining and fun aspects of English while improving their writing skills.


Want Your Child to Take Their English to the Next Level?

If your child is struggling with English presently, Years 7 and 8 are the best time to help them get on top things.

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Written by Patrick Condliffe

Patrick has a Bachelor of Arts (Hons. 1st Class - Australian Literature) from USYD. His poetry, short stories, and essays have been published online and in print and he regularly reviews film and other media. Patrick is the editor of the popular Matrix blog and has been an English teacher at Matrix since 2012.


© Matrix Education and, 2018. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Matrix Education and with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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