Get on the write track
Writing can be a major challenge for some children when faced with a blank page, but creative writing courses are a great way to overcome self-doubt and build confidence.
'Younger students develop writing stamina in our creative writing courses. This is essential to becoming a writer because output really does matter. Some go from being able to write only a few sentences to writing two pages independently by the end of a course,' explains Marion McNally, principal teacher of Primary Matters (web.mac.com/primarymatters).
'Students also become thinkers as they are asked to make important decisions about what to write and how to write it. They find their 'voices' by writing about topics they find interesting. This feeling of being in control is very satisfying for young writers and transfers easily to writing activities in school.'
Primary Matters offers creative writing classes for students from eight to 14 that focus on a variety of genres, including Chinese folk tales, realistic fiction, short stories, poetry and memoirs. Each course runs for 10 to 12 weeks and takes place at a number of ESF schools - the Bradbury, Glenealy and Quarry Bay Schools, and at Renaissance College in Ma On Shan. The weekly, 75-minute lessons cost HK$325 and include tuition, all support materials, prompt sheets, and individual oral and written feedback offered in class and via e-mail. Students are expected to complete homework tasks throughout the course.
A one-off book publishing fee of HK$320 per term is also charged.
Home tutoring classes of up to four students can be arranged on request and these classes follow the same curriculum as regular classes.
'As all good writers need to be observers of life, students are encouraged to keep a writer's notebook. They are asked to notice how real people go about their daily lives. This helps with short-story writing in particular, as they are able to develop more believable characters,' McNally says.
While writing is often seen as a solitary activity, classes are interactive. Students in small groups discuss specific writing strategies and how they can use them in their writing, review story ideas they have gathered in their notebooks and comment on the writing of their classmates after they have been read aloud to the group.
The Kelly Yang Project (www.kellyyang.com) also offers 90-minute classes that cost HK$400, run for one term and focus on three ability levels - beginner, introductory and intermediate.
'In our creative writing classes, children will learn how to use vivid imagery, figurative language and metaphors in their stories, and work on effective word choice, vocabulary and grammar,' explains founder Kelly Yang. 'They will also learn the structure and styles of different genres. Part of the class will focus on polishing works, with an emphasis on editing, proofreading and redrafting.'