Put a positive spin on editing | Elementary grades

by | Feb 21, 2011 | Editing & Revising

Tips to help improve editing skills for kids! Try these ideas to make the process more positive for children and parents alike.

A quick peek at the blog’s Editing & Revising category will show that I talk about editing quite a bit here. It’s a big deal for so many homeschoolers—and is often the very thing that puts a damper on an otherwise decent day or week of writing.

I’m always on the hunt for a fresh idea to share that will make editing and revising even a teensy bit easier for you and your kiddos. The whole ordeal can leave an unpleasant taste in many a mouth, so today, let’s look at ways to make the editing process more positive.

Start Them Young

I love to see parents begin to teach self-editing skills during the elementary years—before anxiety, fear, and self-deprecation begin to overtake their children. While they’re still young, introducing them to simple ideas can actually make self-editing fun!

  • For example, you can absolutely revolutionize self-editing with one little trick: Make a photocopy of your child’s original writing project and let her self-edit the copy. This allows her to preserve the original, which many children are quite reluctant to mark up.
  • Encourage children to identify a difficult word they spelled correctly or a sentence that has no errors. They love hunting for things they did well, rather than only focusing on mistakes.
  • Another suggestion: Provide them with their own set of supplies such as highlighter markers, colored pencils, and tiny stickers. Armed with their personal editing tools, children can sit down with a real sense of purpose to find those errors and highlight positive efforts. Editing can become a joy instead of a dreaded chore.

“My son feels very professional having a tool kit for this specific job.”  -Karen, WA

A Second Pair of Eyes

But don’t stop at self-editing. Every paper benefits from another look, so once your child is finished self-editing his work, take time to edit it yourself.

  • Keep suggestions to a minimum.
  • Don’t try to find every error.
  • At this age, there’s no need to ravage your child’s paper with a red pen. When you do spot something that needs attention, try not to cross out or erase. Instead, simply print the correct word or punctuation mark directly above the old one.

When finished, give your child the opportunity to rewrite his composition on fresh paper, should he so choose.

Positive, Encouraging Feedback

It’s not always easy to edit a child’s writing attempts. We’re naturally inclined to point out all the mistakes, roll our eyes, sigh deeply in exasperation, or even become angry. Clearly, that’s not the best approach when dealing with a tender-hearted nine-year-old.

So before a negative word rolls off your tongue, affirm your developing writer by searching for things you can praise.

Next time you look over your child’s paper, why not try making a few of these positive and encouraging comments?

  • You’re off to a great start!
  • I love your ideas.
  • You are so creative.
  • What a descriptive story!
  • You shared some interesting facts.
  • Wow! You remembered all your capitalization rules.
  • Thank you for trying so hard.
  • I can see that you’ve put a lot of thought into your story.
  • Great word choices! My favorites are “powdery” and “fluffy.”
  • I like your title. It gives me a good clue about your story.
  • This is my favorite sentence. It’s so descriptive!
  • Fantastic! Look how your punctuation has improved.
  • You are becoming a great writer.

More Ideas: Editing Skills for Kids and Parents

Tips to help improve editing skills for kids! Try these ideas to make the process more positive for children and parents alike.


  1. Kim

    So happy to hear that, Linda! Hope it produces more smiles in the classroom this year.

  2. Linda Ulleseit

    I am a sixth grade classroom teacher who loves teaching writing. Editing/revising is always the most frustrating part of the job, especially when students all think their work is perfect! I love the idea of copying their original before marking, and I love the idea of encouraging them to find things they did right. I will definitely be coming back to your blog for more ideas!

  3. Kim

    So glad you and your daughter are enjoying WriteShop, Heather. Isn’t it exciting to see how switching the focus from “what’s wrong” to “what’s right” can inspire a child?

  4. Heather

    I cannot say how much my daughter enjoys editing now! Just a simple thing to look for what is right first has been amazing. Having a chance to use the specific instructions from the WriteShop book has been a great experience.

    I’ve never thought to use a photocopy of the original. Super idea!

  5. Kim

    You always share such great tips, Janet!

  6. Janet

    Making a photocopy of the original is a very important point! I would suggest that, if parents or classroom teachers feel the need to make corrections or suggestions on a child’s paper, that a photocopy be used, even when an adult is doing the actual corrections. There really is an emotional attachment to the”original” story, written in a child’s own hand! Their creation truly is their pride and joy!

    Another idea is to use an editing rubric. Staple or clip the rubric to the original, using it to record positive comments or suggestions for improvement. Kids enjoy self-editing with a rubric also, once they learn the ropes of use.

    And small fishing tackle or pocket-pet habitat boxes make great toolboxes for a child’s editing supplies! Just-right-sized handles for young hands!


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