The world often thinks of homeschool parents as teachers, but a more likely analogy would be that of a coach. We rarely, if ever, stand in front of our children and deliver a lecture. You’re more likely to find us sitting beside our kids, helping them to uncover the answers to their questions.
Writing isn’t any different than other subjects in our homeschools; in fact, it may take even more coaching skills to move our children towards victory over the written word. From beginning to end, writing projects can require a lot of guidance and collaboration to obtain success.
However, once we have encouraged these steps in our children’s writing process, they will be ready to succeed and take a project from beginning to end.
Rough Draft, Now What?
You’ve guided them through the prewriting process. Your child has researched and made notes. They’ve written their first draft, but what is next? What do we do first?
It’s time for the final steps to completing their written work. What do these last steps include?
They sound similar and may be referred to interchangeably, but each has a specific function, which helps to create a finished product. So let’s start with that first step, revising.
Time for Revision
Wait at least a day from writing the rough draft to begin the process of revision. Resting your mind and taking a break will make it easier to see the areas of a paper that need refining.
- Do your paragraphs support your thesis statement?
- Does each paragraph have a topic sentence?
- Is it organized in a way that makes sense and flows with the introduction?
- Does your conclusion refect the introduction and provide closure?
Now is the time to reflect on the organization and purpose of the writing. Ask yourself if your paragraphs support your thesis.
As the parent, guide your child in finding those spots that need more support or aren’t serving a purpose. Point out what needs to be added and what is irrelevant. Revision is the time to guide them through a thorough reading of their writing that will lend clarity to its purpose.
Move on to Editing
After making the needed revisions, it is now time for editing the work. With fully developed and organized ideas, we can turn our attention to spelling and grammar.
While editing, we should check each word and sentence for errors. Especially look for:
- Proper capitalization and punctuation
- Correct nouns and verbs (especially tense)
- Spelling (especially those pesky homophones)
Editing is when we get to the nitty-gritty of making both grammatical and spelling corrections. A good exercise is to have your child do the first read through and make edits, then you read a second time and find any errors they missed.
Make the corrections from those two readings, and then read a third time. Your child will be amazed at the things they continue catching and correcting.
Power in the Proofreading
After all those edits, it’s a good idea to take another break. Have a snack or take a walk, whatever will release all the words from your mind.
When you come back, it’s time for proofreading. This is the time for the more technical aspects of completing a paper. Do you have proper spacing? Are your paragraphs aligned? Do you see any typos or errors you may have missed during editing?
As a parent, it’s helpful to proofread alongside your child at first and help them to see the needed corrections. Proofreading is the time to make it shine and before sending it into the world.
Finish the Writing Race
Completing a paper can feel like running a race that will never end, for both you and your student. However, the more you coach them through these final steps in the writing process, the easier it will become.
Be an inspiring coach, and help them take ownership of their final written product. It’s a skill they will never lose.