If your child is in grades 10-12, here are some questions to ask to help stay on top of their writing abilities.
Find out what your student already knows. Can he or she write a grammatically correct sentence? Create complex sentences with interesting word choices? Write a paragraph without any spelling errors and, use spell-check? Use a dictionary and thesaurus? Create an outline about a subject? Select a subject to write about?
Talk to your child’s English teacher at the beginning of the school year. Ask the teacher some direct questions about how an essay or term paper is assigned. How is a topic assigned? Is essay outlining taught? How is writing taught in class? How many papers will the student write each semester? Will the class learn how to use research, footnotes and bibliography? Will the teacher provide your child with insights on how to improve their writing? How much writing will be done in class? How much writing will be assigned for homework where there will be more time to organize, think and write effectively?
Perhaps the most important writing tool beyond the basics is editing. Find out if there will be opportunities for your student to edit essays and how often. Will the teacher be involved in the direct instruction of editing?
All good writers do not just write their ideas once and consider their work finished. Good writers conceptualize their ideas, create an outline and then begin to write. After that, they edit their work: reading and rewriting their ideas several times or more.
Before your teen needs to write college application essays or leaves for college, make sure they are confident in their writing skills.
Don’t wait for your teen to say, “OMG, I have to write an essay due tomorrow!”
Carole Richards is president of North Coast Education Services and author of Richards Read Systematic Language. Her email address is: [email protected].