HELPING YOUR CHILD BECOME A BETTER WRITER
Most young people approach writing in one step. Even many high school and college students start writing their papers with little thought about what they are going to say and do their jobs with little or no review. We should not be surprised that their work is disorganized, artificial and flawless.
When your child begins to receive assignments involving more than one or two paragraphs, you can help him learn the various stages leading to a polished product. While good English teachers train students to organize, draft and review papers, there is seldom time for sufficient classroom practice. It will help to take the next steps home. The older the child, the more carefully can this process be.
- Pump printing. Teach your child how to take a couple of minutes and brainstorm before writing a job. This is a time for defining the project, inspiring it and deciding on a general direction. Encourage him to use you as a panel for ideas. If writing is for school, make sure that the task is clearly explained. Help him learn how to ask questions like: What are the main things I want to do? Who’s the reader? What are the most important aspects of this topic? Encourage him to describe random ideas, words, and thoughts. They don’t have to be sentenced or come in any order. The object at this stage is to imaginatively think about the project.
- Researching. For some tasks, your child will have to read before he begins to write. Help him use an encyclopedia, find books and magazine articles in the library or get more information on his topic online. If he writes a story with a colt as a character, he might want to see a horses book. If you report on a family trip, you may want to see some leftover brochures, maps, travel guides or photos of your family.
- Make an overview. Learn to organize your child’s thoughts by writing down the main points he wants to make and arranging them in the order he wants to. When he begins to write, remember to refer from time to time to this outline.
- Writing a hard draft. Explain that the rough draft is just that rough to your child. It’s a piece of work and shouldn’t look polished. In fact, the first draft is not very similar to the last copy for many writers. The object at this stage is to get a first staff to get what he wants to say on paper. Spelling and writing errors are not crucial-they will be fixed in a future draft. Let him know that it’s okay to change words, get rid of sentences and add new ideas.
- Review of the draft. Once the first draft (or computer screen) is on paper, your child is ready to edit and rewrite. He should read it over – it can help to read it aloud to decide if the writing is clear and to tell what he wants to tell. Encourage him to add and delete, move sentences, think of more descriptive words, fill in incomplete thoughts and remove foreign ones where necessary. He may want to write a second draft, if necessary. The older the child, the more you can produce and edit. For questions that your child should learn when revising, see ” Review a draft ” below. Many kids don’t like editing and rewriting because they think it’s a failure admission. More effort is also needed.) Teach your child that, on the contrary, good writing requires a lot of rewriting. As Samuel Johnson remarked, ” What is written effortlessly is generally read without pleasure. “
- Once your child is satisfied with his draft, he should make a careful and final copy. Students who use a computer must finalize their writing by choosing formatting, such as fonts, margins, and line spacing. Finally, no writing is complete until your child checks his work for errors. Teach your child that these gruesome mistakes are usually easier to detect if he puts the paper aside for a while and returns to it with a fresh eye.