Essay writing is a skill that every child should learn at a young age. It’s one of those things that parents may think is not necessary until they get older. But it’s crucial for children to have a wide vocabulary to improve the feel of their writing, but it also serves them well in life. Essay writing is as important a skill as learning formulas and equations, perhaps even more so. So what are the tips and tricks to help your child improve their essay writing, whatever their age? 

The Importance of Pre-Writing Tasks

Writing projects comprise a number of different subject matters. But ultimately, the formula will always be the same. An essay is not too dissimilar to a story, and this means we can incorporate any number of little flourishes, for example, understanding which words do not engage the reader, as well as a simple writing checklist that the tone and the words match the purpose of the writing. The great thing about this is there are a number of cheats out there that can help, the page has some guides to creative writing. Pre-writing tasks are great because it allows your child to practice the skill of writing, and is something that we can all benefit from. No one can expect to sit down and be perfect, even at their greatest skill. Musicians need to warm up, athletes need to stretch, and your child can take part in pre-writing tasks. 

The Importance of Research and Thinking

Some people feel that they just need to dive in and let their instincts take over, but when you do not know much about a subject matter, this is where efficient research comes into play. Learning the art of research is not necessarily about Googling a random bunch of thoughts, but about making sure that your child knows what they actually understand about the topic, but also what the research materials say about it. If we are to write an effective essay, the key lies in asking questions that are not necessarily asked on a regular basis. Generally, when we hand in an assignment, we are expected to answer what the question asks. And this means that you’ve got to: 

  • Ask your child what they know about the topic. 
  • What does the teacher think is important about the topic? 
  • What does the textbook state about the topic?
  • And also, most importantly, what would people actually want to know about this topic?

When in doubt, go for the who, what, where, when, why, how structure, but also, when it comes to research, it’s about making sure your child has those relevant tools in place. There is a great guide on that can see them through many essays in their life. 

Structuring the Essay

Structure, in its loosest form, comprises a beginning, middle, and end. In essays, there is a very simple structure that a child can use, which is the 3.5 paragraph essay. It is broken down into two very distinct components. It includes five paragraphs and three main ideas or points. This is a wonderful structure for anybody to hang their assignment on. The 3.5 paragraph essay will tell the readers what you intend to prove, explains three supporting ideas to prove your arguments, and summarizes the main points and supporting ideas, while also reinforcing the conclusions. The first paragraph is classed as an introduction, paragraphs 2, 3, and 4 include one individual ideal point. And the final paragraph is a conclusion. The structure is so important, but it’s not just a simple way to make the essay more readable, it sets the template firmly in your child’s mind. If you can get your child to start getting into the mindset of providing three supporting arguments to answer the question, you then have an introduction and conclusion, and from there, it’s just a case of having to tidy up the essay.

Using the Right Tools

It’s easy to say that now we can rely on tools like Grammarly to do the job for us, but we have to remember that our children need to utilize the tools, but also learn the lessons from them. For example, a website like the Hemingway App is a very simple approach to reduce the number of passive sentences making the active sentences more readable. Also, from the perspective of your child, it might be important for them to write a draft. To so many children, writing the first draft is pointless, because the goal is to get the assignment done, but this is where using tools like voice dictation can make the process easier. If you give your child access to software like Dragon Dictation or even put Google Docs on their phone, they will be able to reel off all their ideas quickly, especially when they know what they want to talk about. That way, it can be easier to tidy up. Also, you do not get bogged down in the idea of typing perfectly. It’s a wonderful way to let your ideas flow, and is something that everybody can benefit from. 

Making Sure Your Children Do Not Put up That Mental Barrier

Finally, the art of essay writing is not just about getting a structure or research in place, but it’s about allowing your child to think freely. We talked about the idea of trusting our instincts, and if you are teaching your children at home they can be their own worst enemy. One of the best lessons in essay writing and writing, in general, is don’t get it right, get it written. The most important thing to do is to list all of your ideas because you can tidy up everything later. Many schools talk about the idea of things needing to be perfect, especially those essay writing assignments in class, but now as teaching has gone towards a more holistic approach in marking assignments, this will hopefully work in your child’s favor.

Main image credit: Pexels – CC0 License