Guest blog post by Josh Carlyle from Writing Guru.
Nothing is worse than seeing your kids have a breakdown because they have to write an essay and don’t know how. We may even be tempted to write the essay for them, just to spare them the unhappy feelings.
But that’s obviously not an option. If a kid struggles with writing homework essays now, what will happen when SATs come around? Or when it’s time to prepare a college admission essay? In these cases, the quality of writing changes lives. It’s better to learn before such responsibility falls on your kid’s shoulders.
The question is, how to make it fun and games – so the kid wants to do it?
Method # 1 – Outline together
Even if you don’t have time to write the entire essay with your kid, there is something you can do. Planning is the most important part of preparing any assignment so sharing the responsibility would help your kid tremendously.
Many children have trouble with outlining because it requires strategic thinking. Kids see writing as a creative exercise and often ignore the structure altogether. If writing seems boring, outlining looks like hell.
The best way to do collective outlining is to discuss the subject with your kid, have a little debate, present different perspectives – and write the main points down as you go. At first, you’ll be the only one making notes (to not spoil all the fun yet) but as soon as the child is used to the process, start dividing the responsibility.
Method #2 – Encourage using all the senses
The main reasons why kids often despise writing so much is because they don’t know where to find metaphors and bright adjectives. Remember your own childhood and the times when you put your heart and soul into that assignment only to hear it being harshly criticized by the professor for not being descriptive enough.
The answer to the question of how to write a descriptive essay lies in finding the pattern that your kid can follow. Professionals from custom essay writing service know a lot of secrets in creating a perfect description. The most successful one is checking whether your writing incorporates all five senses – sight, hearing, smell, taste, and touch. Play a game: write a sentence and think how it’d taste or smell, what new flavors it’d bring to the composition.
How can different senses be used in writing?
Sight: describe colors, objects, make comparisons
An example: The dress was snow-white and the black shade from the car only enhanced the contrast. At some point, all other colors seemed insignificant, only black and white existed.
Hearing: sounds, noises, loud screams (use comics for references)
An example: Crack. Another crack. Then silence again. We all sat in a room, waiting for another noise but it didn’t come.
Smell: compare different objects to those who have a strong scent – coffee, cinnamon, fresh baked goods.
An example: The room smelled like a coffee shop. A strong aroma of arabica seeds was tied to the sugary cinnamon smell. That’s where I spent my entire winter break, with books and old newspapers.
Touch: the feeling, physical sensation
An example: My hands felt sore even though I didn’t care anything heavy. I tried to flex the muscles but they were stiff.
Taste: describe different flavors that could be associated with a particular situation or setting
An example: Even snow had a funny flavor there, with a strange sugary taste.
Method #3 – Play creative games and exercises
Sometimes my kid comes to me with a problem of having no ideas. The conversation starts on the emotional note and usually ends with the phrase ‘Mom, please write my essay for me’. Of course, that’s not happening. Instead, we sit down and play.
If your kid is stuck with no ideas, don’t worry, we have all been there. Luckily, you can learn thinking out of the box together. There are several creative techniques that will help you develop a better understanding of a problem and find a way to put it in words. Let’s take a look at the most often used one.
The Dreamer, the Realist, and the Critic
This technique works both for creative and analytical writing. It allows you to find different arguments and try on various outlooks on the situation or a problem. Each of the three roles has its own characteristics, essential for developing deep reasoning.
An example of a task
Write an 800-word essay on the following subject: Water is perhaps the most important resource in the possession of our planet. How do you see the future of water? Explain the main implications.
Applying the technique
The task requires children to analyze the situation from a rational and creative side. That means, they can propose innovative ideas but it’s crucial to stay grounded, basing the thoughts on real-life phenomena.
The Dreamer is the one who’d explore all possible options with no reality checks. In 2050, humanity will manage to get water from Mars, maybe, even from another galaxy. Another idea could be that humanity finally understands the value of water and starts protecting it from pollution.
The Realist is the one who assesses the idea from a realistic perspective. Is getting water from Mars technically possible? Does it already exist? The second idea can be challenged with an analysis of human history: if we didn’t understand the importance of water yet, what will change in the future? Here you and your kid need to do some grounded research to see existing opportunities and threats.
The Critic challenges the options, proposed by the Dreamer and the Realist. If a realist says that there is a chance that people will find water on Mars because there is the archeological evidence of running water on the red planet, the critic will question even that. Could it be that the scientists just want to believe that? It’s possible that the evidence represents something different.
Using these three roles, kids feel like an actor. Now they have to think like several people and that is liberating and therefore, brings more fun. Another good news is that this technique is great even for adults so you’ll have a good time exploring it, too.
Making writing fun and productive is about combining reason and logic in a spontaneous way. You have to let your kid explore all facets of writing. Depending on their personality types, children shortly lean towards the particular method. Your task is to provide a choice – and here is how to do so.
- Apply analytical skills by performing thorough outlining. Go through each important point and then elaborate. This method works best for kids who are good at math and science because it requires developed logical capacities.
- Allow kids to explore all of their senses during writing. At school teachers often make a mistake of including only the visual component which is difficult for children with other dominant senses. The best way to uncover your kid’s writing potential is to explore all five and learn to combine them all, with one or two prevailing.
- Use creative techniques and games. Put on different prospectives and play with words. This method allows you to discover the creative part about writing and also works for innovative problem-solving.
About the author: Josh Carlyle is an experienced writer at Writing Guru. He covers different topics relating to educational innovations, college life and new technologies in teaching. Josh has been sharing his knowledge with communities and blogs for more than four years.