How to raise emotionally intelligent children

Being emotionally intelligent is an important soft skill.

We probably know people who are adept at managing their emotions. They don’t get upset in difficult situations. Instead, they have the ability to look at a problem and calmly find a solution. They’re excellent decision makers, and they know when to trust their intuition. They’re usually willing to look at themselves honestly. They take criticism well, and they know when to use it to improve their performance.

People with a high degree of emotional intelligence know themselves very well, and they’re also able to sense the emotional needs of others.

Thus, it is important to teach our children how to manage their emotions. This is a good article from Reader’s digest.


What we do in our English tuition Primary classes

This is what we cover in our lessons. Our curriculum spans 11 months to cover the teaching of vocabulary, grammar, comprehension, writing and oral skills.

-We begin all lessons with a vocabulary list of ten words. After 4 lists, the pupils will sit for a test. Before each written test, there is a short game that the pupils play to help them remember the words that they would be tested in the written test.
For the rest of the lesson, the pupils work on different things based on our curriculum.
– We may work on grammar. For example, we will teach the pupils the various tenses and their usage. We also teach the various subject verb agreement rules, use of prepositions, phrasal verbs and other commonly tested grammar items. We usually use Powerpoint slides or videos to teach the rules before pupils complete a worksheet to reinforce their learning.
– We may also teach the rules behind different synthesis topics like ‘unless’, ‘neither nor’ and interchangeable word classes etc.
– We may cover comprehension skills like how to answer factual, inferential, language use and referencing questions etc. More in-depth teaching of skills is covered in our June workshops.
– We may also work on writing skills like how to write an effective introduction, Show not Tell, use of imagery and figurative language, character descriptions, creating suspense and tension in stories etc.
– We also use theme-based model compositions to teach writing skills as we believe pupils benefit immensely from them.
– Sometimes, we play games to reinforce learning. These are good opportunities to review what they have learnt and expand their vocabulary.

Children thrive on repetition. We have to keep repeating and reinforcing what we have taught. Pupils have to complete homework like cloze passages, editing or synthesis exercises. They have a termly test to ascertain how much they know. Practice papers are also given to help pupils hone the skills they have learnt. Every pupil gets a Behaviour Log which charts how they perform in each lesson. Once a month, I will show their parents the behaviour logs.

An example of a Pri 6 lesson

  • Vocabulary list 6 (10min)
  • Go through worksheets +homework (20 min)
  • Comprehension skill: Referencing Selecting a phrase (30 min)
  • Synthesis: Indirect speech (30 min)
  • Homework: 2 cloze passages (turtles+kindness)

Why does your child fare badly for reading comprehension exercises?


There are several reasons.

Let me break it down for you.

  • Reason 1- Your children may not understand the passage. There are too many difficult words and complex sentences which impede their understanding of the text. In addition, they lack prior knowledge of the subject matter in the text so everything looks alien to them. A child who does not have any prior or background knowledge of the subject matter will not be able to make accurate inferences and  answer the questions well.
  • Solution – Expose your child to different texts and genres. Work on expanding their vocabulary bank. Here at Mckaylan, we activate the pupils’ prior knowledge by  providing materials that complement  and activate the pupils’ prior knowledge of the subject matter in the  comprehension exercises. For example, before the pupils work on a comprehension exercise on football hooliganism, I will ask if the pupils know what the subject is about.  Some can guess what it is as they know what a hooligan is. However, many don’t. I will then show them a video where they not only get to watch it but also have to listen for details and complete a listening exercise. Next, they work on editing a short passage on what football hooliganism is about. After they have had an understanding of the subject, I will introduce the comprehension exercise, explain difficult words to them, analyse text structure and check if they have read actively (reading actively is another  useful skill which I will share later.)  As the pupils work on the comprehension exercise, I will walk around and guide them individually to improve on their answering techniques.

Here is a link which emphasises on the importance of background and prior knowledge in understand a passage.

  • Reason 2- Your child doesn’t know how to go about answering the questions.
  • Solution- Pupils need to know what techniques to use when answering the different types of questions. At Mckaylan, we actively and explicitly teach the skills by using Powerpoint slides, interesting videos and worksheets which focus on a particular skill.
  • Solution- PSLE questions: literal, inferential, language use, referencing, True/ false, sequencing, cause/ effect
  • For example, to teach referencing skills,  I use Powerpoint slides to teach them what to do when they encounter such questions and pupils practise the skills by writing their answers down on mini whiteboards. The pupils enjoy this activity as they practise their skills and engage in some friendly competition. Peer pressure works and the pupils try their best to practise the skills taught to gain points. The winner gets a prize from my gift basket comprising  cute stationery, files, notebooks, titbits etc. To reinforce learning, the pupils will work on a set of referencing questions.
  • Solution- ‘O’ level: direct, inferential, use your own words, language use, test of understanding of figurative language, summary
  • For example, to teach use your own words questions,  I will use Powerpoint slides to teach them the steps to take to answer such questions. They have to locate the key words of the questions, find the answer in the passage and paraphrase the answer in their own words. Sounds easy? It isn’t when the pupils do not have a wide vocabulary  because they will not be able to paraphrase the words correctly. Here at Mckaylan, the pupils work on a vocabulary list of 10 words every week and get tested after 4 lists. These words are woven into their writing,  comprehension exercises, reading activities and even games. Research has shown that pupils need to be exposed and use a new word at least 12 times before they know what it means and use it correctly. Do you know words like ‘beautiful’, ‘happy’, and ‘depressed’? This is because you have seen these words countless times and even used them in your speech or writing.  Do you know words like ‘susceptible’, ‘detrimental’ or ‘ubiquitous’? These are words a secondary 4 pupil should know. Maybe you have only encountered them once in your reading, so you may not recall their meanings. Thus, pupils need to constantly review the words they have learnt or they will forget them.
  • Reason 3 -Your child doesn’t know what the question is asking or has misread the question.
  • Solution- Your child needs to underline key words in the question. Locate the key words in the text and and read carefullly that segment of the text for answers. Very often, our children are careless and often misinterpret the questions. They have to be reminded over and over again to READ CAREFULLY.