Writing a journal: Improving English skills over the Summer holidays

Many parents have asked me what tasks children should be doing over the summer to improve English skills to prepare for IGCSE and IB Exams. Whilst they should definately catch up on rest, travel and family time, some tasks can fit into the holidays seamlessly and without too much resistance.


For IB and IGCSE English Language and Literature, well developed observation and  inference skills contribute hugely to an understanding of texts as well as adding depth to compositions and directed writing.

To improve their level of written english, encourage  children to write a journal ( about an A5 sized page)  3-4 times a week.

This can be easier when travelling to new places, however children will complain that they have nothing to write, particularly during their ordinary daily routines when they feel that there is nothing unusual to write about.

Like every other challenge, this is the critical point as this is when children are pushed to dig deeper into what is happening within and around  them and to be observant at a more detailed level.

Students  often find IGCSE and IB texts uneventful as unlike the TV shows they watch, there is no instant gratification.

A sense of boredom and superficial reading, means that they therefore  struggle to analyse literature and write complex essays.

Writing journals helps to find the extraordinary in the ordinary and this will add to a deeper understanding and reading of texts,

Journal writing  also assists in downloading of feelings and frustrations and it is not necessary that  journals are shared as this can be intimidating; It is the thought and articulation that are most valuable.

It may sound old fashioned and journal writing has been replaced by venting our thoughts on Facebook, Instagram and Snap Chat, but do encourage children to put all those emoticons into writing and see the improvement in their grades.