Editing and evaluating writing with your homeschool K-3rd grader doesn’t need to be a negative or intimidating experience for either of you. When children learn at a young age the value of gentle correction and self-improvement, they will come to see editing as a natural part of the writing process.
Determine Your Goal
Your main goal is to help your children learn to look for ways to improve their story or short report. The amount of editing will increase as writing skills progress and the child matures.
Don’t overwhelm a first grader with too many expectations. But by the time they’re in third grade, they should learn to self-edit for story details, organization, and simple mechanics. They should be able to use tools to help edit spelling as well.
Help Your Young Child Edit and Revise
At this age and stage, keep editing and revising as simple and non-threatening as possible. Sit together with each child and read their story together. Then help them take the first steps to learn how to self-edit their own work.
Just remember: Start small! If your child is only in first grade, you’ll only want them to revise the simplest and smallest of errors (Did we begin each sentence with a capital letter? Is there a period at the end of every sentence? Does our story have a beginning, a middle, and an end?) As children grow in both age and skill, you can slowly add more editing elements to your short list.
Most second- and third-graders can begin including any or all of the following as you edit and revise together.
1. Search for the good.
- Special editing tools are fun! Give your child a highlighter pen. Encourage her to look over the story by herself and highlight a difficult word she spelled correctly.
- Next, ask her to look over the story by herself and highlight a sentence she wrote correctly by starting it with a capital letter and using the correct punctuation. Praise her for a job well done.
2. Discuss the details of the story together.
- Identify the main character and setting.
- Ask your child if she would like to add more details about each one.
- Discuss ideas for improvement.
3. Talk about the story.
- If the story includes a problem, does your child write the beginning, middle, and end in such a way that the problem is solved?
- If so, does the problem get solved with a satisfactory solution?
- Otherwise, discuss ideas for improvement.
4. Circle any misspelled words together…
…but only if the child is at least in first grade.
- Look up each word in a children’s dictionary; or
- Create a spelling word wall containing your kids’ most frequently misspelled words. They can refer to it as they write and edit.
Spelling tools and games are some of the many fun and creative activities WriteShop Primary uses to reinforce simple writing skills at the primary level. Just click here for help with choosing a level for your K-3rd grader!
5. Help children revise their writing.
- Write the corrections in between the lines on the paper.
- Children may rewrite their corrections on a new paper if they choose.
What If Your Child Resists?
You CAN turn editing and evaluating writing with a K-3rd grader into a positive experience. When your child digs in his heels, try some of these helpful tips.
1. Do the editing on a different day.
When you step away from the writing for a day, it removes the child from the freshness of his writing. He will feel a little less emotionally attached to the story and its flaws.
2. Make a photocopy of the child’s story.
When they know the original will remain untouched, kids are more willing to mark their paper .
3. Type the story.
Another way to help a reluctant editor is to type the story for your child (always double-spaced), leaving all mistakes intact. Again, the more removed the marked-up version is from the child’s original, the less emotion he’ll attach to it, which means the more willing he’ll be to make corrections.
4. Try a checklist.
You can do these editing exercises orally, of course, but if your child balks, he may need to use a typed checklist and work by himself.
Once your editing time is over and children have made simple changes to their story, have them “publish” it in a fun way, such as attaching it to a paper kite, turning it into a scroll, or making a giant comic strip—knowing that they’re publishing their very best work to proudly share with others.
WriteShop encourages students to self-edit and revise in order to create a published final draft. These editing tips and tools are some of the creative ways WriteShop Primary and WriteShop Junior introduce and encourage self-editing.
Sign up for the WriteShop list to get your free 33 printable word bank prompts.