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By GreatSchools Staff
As your child’s de facto writing coach, part of your role is to listen and figure out what he’s trying to say. Ask how you can help. “You’re giving the child a sounding board to talk about their ideas,” says Mueller. “You’ll help him organize those ideas and support them with examples.”
By reading what they’ve written aloud, children are more likely to notice any obvious mistakes. But remember: Reading requires concentration, so try not to interrupt. Otherwise, you risk interfering with your child’s thought process.
Always start with the good. Identify three strengths in your child’s writing, and point them out. Look for concrete details, clear sentences, and vivid words, and offer encouragement for what you find. Parents can point out the writing they like and read passages aloud for emphasis.
Explain what you find engaging — “I really think you understand the main character in this book” or “I love the colorful details in that sentence.” You’ll be showing teens that writing isn’t a mystical process but one that requires skills anyone can master.
Ask questions to understand what your child is trying to say. Don't be afraid to tell him if there’s something you’d like to know more about, like an idea that’s not fully expressed. Don’t criticize or give the answer, but help him find his own answers. If you respond to his writing as a reader, you’ll be showing him that writing is a way to communicate ideas.
“Every writer has an audience,” says Mueller. “Student writers may not realize this because they’re writing an assignment for a teacher.”
Sometimes young writers will correct their own errors during the revision process, especially if you encourage them to read their work aloud. If your teen makes consistent mistakes in mechanics at this stage, ask him if he knows how to correct them. If he doesn’t, explain how to make the appropriate corrections. In the final draft, encourage your child to edit his own work, resisting the temptation to make the paper “perfect” from your point of view.
What to revise — and how to revise it — should be your child’s decision, not yours. By extension, the “voice” he uses should be his own too. Instead of doing the writing for your child, offer suggestions. Remember that your child must learn to think and write on his own.
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