In this era of text messaging and Facebook, many kids don’t spend a lot of time honing their formal writing skills. This can be a problem when it comes time to hand in those school papers and essays. Good writing skills will help kids improve their grades and serve them well later in life. Here are five tips that can help students on the road to becoming better writers and in turn better communicators.
1. Choose words carefully. When you’re not sure if a word is the right choice for a sentence, what should you do? Look it up, of course! Many students choose words hastily and don’t take the time to look up the definitions to make sure that they’re a proper fit. Good word choices are essential for quality writing, since misused words cause awkwardness and confusion.
2. Fact check. If writers want people to believe what they have to say, they must make sure that what they write is truthful and accurate. Fact checking provides a writer with credibility. Students should use reliable sources, preferably primary sources, to verify facts and should cite or credit sources when appropriate.
3. Rewrite and edit. A common problem among student writers is an unwillingness to rewrite and edit. Rewriting is the best way to catch and fix typos and other writing errors, like grammar and punctuation mistakes, sentence inconsistencies, and paragraphs out of place. Though it takes time and extra work, rewriting and editing strengthen a piece of writing.
4. Read aloud. Sometimes it’s easier to catch problems with spelling, sentence structure, and word flow when you read aloud. Reading aloud does more than just help writers with the rewriting and editing process; it helps them develop their unique writing voice. Having someone else read your paper aloud can also be helpful.
5. Prepare a checklist. Preparing a checklist helps ensure that all of the elements necessary for writing a good paper or essay have been covered. Checklists include items like: Did you answer the question asked of you? Is the paper long enough? Are all the parts of the paper included? Is there a proper title? Checking off items on a checklist is an important final step to writing a good paper.
Becoming a better writer doesn’t happen overnight. But with a few simple steps, students can improve their writing skills and learn how to draft better papers and essays. Having the ability to write well is an asset that will help your child immensely in college and professionally, as well as a skill that will last a lifetime.
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