Monday, October 22, 2012

What can we expect from a 10 year old?

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The level of skill in writing is only limited by a few factors; the child’s vocabulary, their exposure to the use of grammar and their imagination/observation.
If you have spoken to them in a way which has encouraged the development of a wide language structure, they will incorporate that into their writing very quickly, because to them, it is normal to use those words. The grammar knowledge often comes from the books they are exposed to, not only the ones they read on their own but also he books you read with them. If they see the use of commas, colons and semi colons, speak marks and paragraphs they will absorb the use of them as they would the words they hear. I have often worked with children who by the age of 10 are able to produce highly sophisticated pieces of poetry or prose which would be comparable to a 16 year olds submission for GCSE. To them it is natural.
So can this be encouraged? It most certainly can and by exposing them to the language will start that process.
I have produced a manual of words which appear on the 11 plus verbal reasoning paper, and this challenges the year 5 pupils to learn the meanings of the words [please note the spelling is irrelevant] and to then incorporate them into passages or stories. What words are these? Well, here is one list:

Economical     Fatal   Provoke   Adopt   Domestic

Origin   Quaint   Scripture   Ambition   Sturdy

Restore   Sleek   Sincere   Proportion   Procure

The aim was to write a 300 word story about themselves or someone in the family which included at least nine of these words. To do this they had to know the various connotations of the words and then weave something which incorporated them. To many parents and teachers they would think this beyond them but to be honest unless you give them a challenge to aspire to how high will you know they can reach?
Some of the sentences and paragraphs incorporating theses words are enclosed below.

  •     … so she adopted a wild animal instead of the domesticated cat.
  •     … Ben had provoked an argument with his brother over football and then George took Ben’s figure from him. It was obviously a favourite figure because Ben was moaning and crying, so George restored into Ben’s hands.
  •  We left the café and saw the deer with their sleek and shiny coats. They were so cute I wanted to adopt one!
  •  “Where are we going?” I asked in confusion. “It’s a surprise,” replied dad with a cheeky grin on his face. We drove to the station and dad asked the man behind the counter for a ticket to London. The helpful man replied it would be more economical if we got a family ticket…….
  •   .. the first place we visited were the sturdy gun turrets……… made our way to the rest of the ship to see the domestic arrangements for the sailors……… we noticed a quaint chapel…. Being on the ship provoked thoughts of what it must have been like for the sailors….

What can 10 year old's achieve? Sometimes a lot more than eventhey realise until we throw down the challenge.

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