Many parents struggle to help their child with essay writing more than anything else. Parents find it easier to help their kids with math & science but helping with essay writing is far more intimidating for them.
Well, an essay is a written composition that is made up of the author’s opinion, evidence & examples, and a conclusion. This process of streamlining ideas and presenting them in an interesting manner can be a challenge for kids – of all ages. And, as a parent, you might feel that you cannot help with subjective analysis and expression beyond a point. We feel you, and we mean it!
Now while you cannot teach essay writing like math, there is a lot you can do to help your kid develop a process to write effective essays. At Talentnook we have worked with several children who sought help with essay writing skills and from our experience, here are the 5 easiest and most effective ways to help your kid in essay writing
These 5 ways work for essays in science & English alike and can not only help them secure an A but also make the process enjoyable. Don’t believe us? Read on and try all or a few of the following with your child the next time they have an essay writing assignment:
1. Break down the essay prompt – use annotations
Encourage your child to annotate the essay prompt before anything else. There are a few key elements that you can ask your child to look out for:
- Key idea/theme/question/problem statement that has been stated
- Any supporting ideas provided to give an initial direction to thoughts (e.g. if consider a line in an essay prompt “write an essay describing how water is becoming a scarce resource in developing countries.” Here your child must take note of the fact that it’s not just the scarcity of water but specifically so in developing countries is the direction of thought & analysis that they must choose.)
- Format related information (for example, 4-5 double spaced pages)
- Any other specific instruction (for example, a 1000-1200 words essay)
2. Get your child interested by sharing examples and facts
This is one of the most impactful ways of helping your child write an essay. Look up simple examples that you can discuss with your child in a dinner table conversation. Give them examples that you think are from a reliable source and also try to add some counterexamples to kickstart their own analysis of the key question/ theme.
For example, for the essay on water scarcity in developing countries, you could appreciate the essay topic and tell them something like,
“Did you know water payment rates have gone up by almost 60% in Armenia since 1998! The water crisis in developing countries is such a real topic! I saw this in the World Bank’s water overview report, it’s on the internet for free.”
In this way, you would’ve not only given an interesting fact to build their interest but also share a reliable information source where they can explore further.
3. Get them to first make an outline and then fill it out
This is another great way to help your child feel relaxed and excited about essay writing. Devote some time to discussing the prompt and developing an outline with your child. Once the outline is in place, your child will be able to fill in the argument and supporting facts with much more ease. To further make this process efficient, ask them to fill out content only under one subheading in a day.
A typical outline could look something like this:
- Starter facts (describing the current situation)
- Argument/ opinion/ analysis
- Supporting facts for the case presented
- Conclusion & recommendations
4. Take a small gap and read the essay together
A great way to conclude the essay writing assignment is to review it sometime after finishing the last draft. Once your child has concluded the draft from their end, ask them to sleep over it and leave it untouched for 3 days. They will have even better seeming ideas floating in their subconscious even during the 3-day gap. This is spontaneous in all human beings – our mind doesn’t stop thinking and it does so better when there is no pressure.
After 3 days, go through the draft along with your child and ask them to make all the replacements. Encourage them to think and read like a reader while making the final edits. Ask them what would they want to read if they had to read their essay in a newspaper or a book?
5. Help your child avoid THIS common mistake!
Lastly, encourage your child to avoid using the approach of copy-pasting large chunks of information from the internet. Many children do this and try to change or interject a few lines here and there. The minor changes they make are just to avoid being caught for plagiarism.
Ask your child to avoid READING and WRITING side by side. This is a common shortcut applied by children who fear or are anxious about long-form writing. Encourage them to first finish all of their research and take bullet point notes instead of copying whole sentences. This applies to both books and internet-based resources. By helping them read up first and then build an opinion of their own, you’ll help them get rid of essay anxiety faster than you can imagine!
Lastly, should your child need more help, reach out for professional help. At Talentnook, we have hundreds of writing tutors whose job is just this – helping children write better! Just start exploring profiles, shortlist on the basis of your budget, requirements, and criteria of qualifications. You can even request demo lessons before your child starts working with a professional writing tutor to augment their writing skills.
Don’t know where to start? Read on our Guide on how to find the best writing tutor for your child
Found this blog interesting? We’ve written more such blogs aimed at helping your child build excellent English language skills. Check out our English Language Blogs here
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