Is it possible for editing to go from a hated or dreaded chore to something your homeschool child actually enjoys? Can you really make editing fun?
When Kids Hate Editing
As far as most kids are concerned, “editing” and “fun” can never appear in the same sentence. In their minds, the very word editing conjures up images of Mom poring over their paper with a magnifying glass with just one purpose: to find fault.
This can be disheartening, especially when Sensitive Seth honestly and truly believes his paper is perfect just the way it is.
Even when your child takes a stab at self-editing before showing his paper to you, he still may not make any changes. He likes what he wrote—and doesn’t see the need to fix a thing.
Can you help this child turn the corner?
Fun Tip #1: Edit Together
When I was little, chores were much more fun when one of my parents did them with me. Whether we were pulling weeds or washing up after dinner, the job seemed infinitely more doable with Mom or Dad. Your child may feel that way about editing his latest story! So sit down together and try to make a game of it.
At first, every child will need help during self-editing. It can take time—often a l-o-n-g time—before they start seeing their own mistakes. This comes with much practice, so don’t feel discouraged when they don’t catch misspelled words or recognize their story’s lack of detail.
Self-editing is a bit of a misnomer. Even if your children use a reliable checklist that lays out the expectations for the assignment, their eye hasn’t been trained yet to seek out their errors. This skill can take years to develop, especially if you’re working with a younger child.
In truth, you’re training your children to become more independent self-editors. As you work alongside them, be patient through the process. As with any other skill we teach our kiddos, it takes time.
Fun Tip #2: Look for the Good
How do we edit or proofread our kids’ papers? Typically, we grab our red pens and hunt down every sentence fragment, misspelled word, and errant punctuation mark until the page fairly bleeds with criticism.
May I whisper a simple secret to you that can absolutely revolutionize the editing process for you and your child?
Start by looking for things he did well.
Before a drop of red ink touches your child’s paper, affirm him by helping him discover what’s right about his story or report, not just what needs fixing. It’s such a simple—and perhaps obvious—concept, but if we’re honest with ourselves, we can admit that too often, we focus on the errors.
Fun Tip #3: Use an Editor’s Tool Kit
A while back, I introduced you to a cool editing kit called a Said It, Read It, Edit Bag. This bag of editing tools helps you cultivate the skill of self-editing in your children as, together, you look for ways to affirm and improve their writing.
Colorful pencils, highlighters, sticky notes, and other fun writing tools always make the editing task more smile-worthy!
More Self-Editing Strategies That Reduce Tears
Working together, try these self-editing tips with your elementary-aged child:
1. Identify a job well done!
Invite your child to choose a highlighter marker from the Said It, Read It, Edit Bag.
- As you watch, encourage him to look over the paper by himself and highlight a difficult word he spelled correctly.
- Next ask him to highlight a sentence he wrote correctly by starting it with a capital letter and using the correct punctuation. Praise your child for a job well done.
2. Try sticky notes.
Make sure the writing project has all the elements it needs. Talk about the story or report together and discuss ideas for improvement.
Your child can make changes on the blank spaces between the lines. Better yet, pull some brightly colored sticky notes from his Said It, Read It, Edit Bag (we like these and these) and let him write corrections on these. This fun trick can reduce stress if your child doesn’t want to “mess up” his paper.
- Structure. Does the story have a beginning, middle, and end (or an introduction, body, and conclusion, if it’s an essay or report)?
- Organization. Is this a report? Make sure it the main points are organized.
- Character. If the story has a main character, check for descriptive details about him or her.
- Setting. Check to see if your child included details for the setting.
- Plot. Is it a mystery, adventure, or science fiction story? Make sure there is a problem that the character has solved in a satisfactory way.
- Details. Did your child use details to develop the story? If he wrote a report, are main points supported by facts and other details?
3. Help your child check for mechanics.
Ask your child to read the Writing Project aloud (encouraging a younger one to also track each word with his finger). Have him examine each sentence to make sure he:
- Indented the first line of the paragraph(s).
- Began each sentence with a capital letter and used correct punctuation.
- Doesn’t have any missing words.
4. Replace weak words with strong ones.
Boring words can be replaced with more descriptive words. Invite your student to choose one or more weak or overly repeated words and replace them with a synonym. If he can’t think of one on his own, encourage him to use a thesaurus. To make this more fun, make a game of replacing weak words with stronger ones.
5. Circle words that might be misspelled.
Ask your child to circle difficult words whose spelling he wants to check. Tell him to look them up in a dictionary and write each word correctly on a sticky note.
By trying some of these simple ideas, editing can become a no-more-tears event. I’m confident you’ll be able to add your own testimonial here one of these days!
“Editing was a dreaded day in the beginning but not anymore.” ~Susan, Florida
“[My daughter] actually looked forward to editing (biggest improvement because she used to hate it). ” ~Andrea, California
“Her self-editing skills really improved. She became more independent.” ~Mindy, Utah
WriteShop encourages students to self-edit and revise in order to create a published final draft. These self-editing tips and The Said It, Read It, Edit Bag™ are some of the creative ways WriteShop Junior makes editing fun for your homeschooled kids.