Let’s talk about an all-too-familiar scenario: your son or daughter decides it’s time to reveal a “mystery” writing assignment, it is already 8:00 PM, it’s due tomorrow (of course), and they have absolutely no idea where to begin. To add to the frustration, your child cannot seem to recall the teacher’s instructions or examples. After all, it is hard to organize your thoughts while in panic-mode. Take a deep breath. We are certainly not all born-writers, but these surefire strategies should make the process a lot less stressful.
· Is there a rubric included? Look for the rubric “write” away! Many teachers include rubrics with assignments. It’s the sheet with all the boxes. A rubric serves as a set of guidelines for evaluation; AKA, it shows you exactly what the teacher expects in order to achieve full marks. Refer back to the rubric frequently throughout the writing process, and make sure to review it again before handing in a final copy.
· Use a graphic organizer: Also referred to as a story map, concept map, or cognitive organizer – this visual tool will assist with chunking assignments into smaller steps, and putting thoughts/ideas in order. Take note of the word “visual.” 65% of us are visual learners. You can find simple graphic organizer templates on the internet. Print some off, and give your child a choice between two or three. Perhaps the teacher has already included one with the assignment, or taught the class how to create their own. Attempt to jog your child’s memory. You never know what they may come up with! A graphic organizer is the key to beginning the writing process, and beginning is certainly the trickiest part.
· Incorporate an editing checklist. Depending on your child’s grade level, this will vary. A basic editing checklist will likely include the following, ordered here from basic to more advanced:
o I have a title, my name, and the date.
o I used appropriate spacing between my words, and wrote neatly.
o All of my sentences end with punctuation (. ! ?).
o All of my sentences begin with uppercase letters.
o The word “I” is always capitalized.
o Each sentence is complete with both a subject and predicate.
o My lists contain commas.
o I spelled words correctly. If using technology, I used my word processor’s spellcheck.
o I have a clear beginning, middle, and ending.
o My writing is clear and sequential.
o All of my paragraphs are indented.
o I used “wow” words.
o I used quotation marks when someone is speaking.
Allow your child to unleash their creative energy. Developing writing skills takes time and practice, but the process need not be grueling. Hone skills at home by writing for fun! Encourage your child to illustrate their writing, write letters to friends and relatives, journal thoughts and feelings, and write freely about topics they love.
WRITTEN BY KIMBERLY DESAUTELS, TUTOR WITH WILDFLOWERS