7 Ways to Help Your Teen Become a Better Essay Writer
A lot of teens view writing more as a chore than a vital life skill. For this age group, writing is a menial task they often have to deal with at school. It could even be viewed as a task assigned to them as homework or part of a time-pressured activity. Because of these, it’s difficult for them to think of it as a fun activity.
If you’re a teacher or parent of teenagers, you know how important it is in the long run for them to have good written communication skills. If they’re in high school or college, teenagers will have to be able to write in some capacity, especially when they’re often assigned to write essays.
At this point, you only want to look out for their future and ensure that they have the necessary writing skills to succeed later on in life. And we’re here to help you out with that! Below are 7 ways to help your teenager become a better writer, and help them view writing as a positive and fruitful experience.
#1 Take on the role of a coach.
The role of a coach is a lot different than of a parent. With the latter, you often have to suppress yourself from correcting the child’s writing.
Consider starting by asking the child what they feel they need help with. This way, you’re validating their ability to closely analyze their work. Likewise, you’re affirming that their opinion matters.
In doing so, you’re establishing a healthy reader-writer relationship with the child. It fosters the idea that they need your help not because their paper requires corrections, but that every writer needs a reader and a second set of eyes and ears.
#2 Practice makes perfect.
When young ones want to become a better singer or athlete, what do they usually do? Practice, of course. Writing is no different.
For your teen to become better at writing essays, they need to practice on a regular basis. Making it a part of their daily routine is ideal, but once a week isn’t enough. Encourage them to keep a journal where they can write down their thoughts and ideas – even problems and feelings. Nobody has to read it. Journaling is a great way to “exercise” their writing skills every day.
#3 Make reading a habit.
American author, Stephen King, couldn’t have said it better. From his memoir, “On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft”, he wrote that, ‘If you don’t have the time to read, you don’t have the time to write. Simple as that.’
All distinguished writers, including King, are also voracious readers. If you want your child to become a better writer, start by encouraging them to read first – and read any writing style – from brochures and magazines, to essays and great literary works.
And no, tweets and Instagram posts don’t count.
#4 Point out their strengths.
Always start with the strengths. Identify at least three positive aspects of a teen’s writing, making sure to point out clear sentences and proper structuring, vivid words, and other concrete details. And then, praise them for what you find. You can point out the passages you like by reading them aloud, for emphasis.
Make sure to explain to the child what you find particularly engaging. For example, you can say, “I really appreciate the way you explained the main character’s thoughts and feelings” or “I love the way you used this phrase in that sentence”. This way, you’re showing the teen that writing an essay (or any type of literary work for that matter) isn’t some mystical process that requires high-level skills to master.
#5 Avoid the fluff.
A good writer chooses their words carefully. They find the balance between writing in a concise and descriptive manner and writing in a pretentious and verbose way. While it’s important to expand one’s vocabulary and try out new words in writing, it’s just as critical that your teen use these new words appropriately and with care.
When a child uses too many strange or new words, their work tends to sound pretentious – even arrogant. Help them find the perfect balance between overly basic word choices and verbosity, and encourage them to write in smaller words and more concise sentences.
#6 Hire an expert.
Perhaps your young one’s essay writing skills are far below where they should be at their current age. Maybe you don’t always have enough time to invest on helping them. If so, you may want to consider getting the help of a tutor or writing expert to help them get back on track.
You can turn to one of the best essay services online for writing assistance, as these companies have some of the most talented essay writers who are well-versed in various academic fields.
If you don’t want to spend money, you can always look to your teen’s high school or local community, where you can find older kids who can look over your child’s writing. These individuals can also help them become better essay writers for free or for a lower fee.
But don’t just leave everything to the experts. It’s important that you check your child’s progress from time to time, to ensure that they’re indeed improving their craft.
#7 Take advantage of technology and the Internet.
Needless to say, today’s tweens and teens are the children of the Digital Age. These are kids who tend to use so much acronyms and shorthand in their social media posts and day-to-day interactions, to the point they stop looking like English sometimes.
This doesn’t help them become better essay writers in any way at all.
As such, consider challenging your teen to practice proper spelling, grammar and punctuation usage when they communicate with friends or share a status on social media. And anyway, they probably spend a significant amount of time online that you probably won’t even have to do much to convince them.
With encouragement, they would get valuable writing practice from the things they love doing. They may even receive positive feedback from their peers and follower online. It’s a win-win situation.
Implementing these tips and developing better essay writing habits may take time, but they’re practical and straightforward so we’re pretty sure your teen will be up to the task.
Talk to them about these strategies and revisit them every time your teen has a writing task to see if they’ve taken them on-board.
About the writer: Carol Duke is very keen on teaching students new, effective ways of learning. When not freelancing and blogging on education-related matters, Carol enjoys traveling, taking immense pleasure from visiting new countries. You can follow her on Twitter.
PLEASE NOTE: The writers of this article are not medical professionals. The information in this column is not intended and should not be construed as providing medical or psychological advice, but rather to offer readers information and provide a perspective to better understand the lives of themselves and their children. Articles on this website may be opinion based. The articles are not intended to provide an alternative to professional treatment or to replace the services of a physician, psychiatrist, psychotherapist or other licensed medical professional. If you do have health or safety concerns, please get in touch with a healthcare professional.