Getting your kids excited about writing an essay might sound like mission impossible. And that’s understandable. Children often have a hard time expressing themselves in normal conversation. So, sitting down to write a structured essay with logical reasoning and persuasive arguments can seem like a huge challenge. But with practice, your kids can learn to love writing. Here’s how you can help your kids write better essays (while improving your own writing skills in the process).
Before your child can hope to write an essay, it’s important that he or she understand the basics of spelling, grammar, and writing, as they pertain to their age or grade level. Make sure they have a basic idea of the requirements for the essay they have been assigned. Talk to them about the topic to make sure they understand what they are going to write about. Once you’re sure they understand these basics, explain to them the basics of a thesis statement. Let them know that the thesis is the sentence that sums up their whole paper. If they only had one or two sentences to make their point, what would they say? It should be broad enough to merit writing an essay, but narrow enough to keep the paper focused. Make sure that they understand that every paragraph of their paper will need to relate back to this thesis. So, it should be strong. When they’re first getting started with writing essays, it’s okay if you come up with the thesis for them.
The outline is the most important part of your child’s essay. A solid outline will help your child structure his or her thoughts. It will also keep them on track when they’re writing so they don’t introduce a topic too soon (or too late). It will let them develop an argument over several paragraphs or pages, rather than developing it all at once in the first paragraph.
As part of the outlining process, make sure they understand the purpose and importance of the introduction and conclusion. These two paragraphs will, respectively, set the tone for the paper and wrap up the topics that were covered. Also, make sure they know how to transition between sentences.
There are thousands of great examples of essays online. Be sure to find examples that are structured the same way their essay is. For example, if they need to write an argumentative essay, “Do Violent Video Games Cause Behavior Problems?” is a great sample. If your child needs to write a compare and contrast essay, you’d want to find an essay that focused on comparing two people, places, events, etc.
It’s important for your child to see examples of both great essays and poorly written essays so they can see what they should (and shouldn’t) do when writing.
Practice. Practice. Practice. Did I mention you should practice? The only way they will improve their skills is to practice. Just make sure they understand that they should seek to reach their own personal best. Don’t put too much pressure on them or make them feel like they need to be perfect. There is no such thing as perfection, and if they try to be perfect, they’ll grow to hate writing.
Essay writing is a valuable skill that will serve your kids well throughout their academic careers. Beyond that, it will help them develop stronger communication and reasoning skills, and it will make them more logical thinkers. It might be difficult right now, but your kids will thank you someday.