As a parent, you are naturally concerned for your child's success in school. The Writing Center is here to ease some of your concerns. The Writing Center's goal is to help students tap into their potential as creative and effective writers. By building their confidence, and developing their literary skills, students will be better prepared in the real world, a world where writing is a part of everyday life.
Things You Can Do:
Encourage your child to come to the Writing Center
Be an “at home” tutor
The Writing Center is a great source for students to find help, but it is not the only source... parents can be another resourceful avenue for students.
The Domestic Tutor:
You don’t necessarily have to be trained to be a good tutor. There are simple things you can do to help and guide your child throughout the writing process.
1) Pat Yourself on the Back! - Holy schnitzel. You actually got your child to show you his/her writing. Go ahead and get yourself a celebratory glass of milk; you're way ahead of the game.
2) Positive Before Critical - Always state something positive about the writing piece before mentioning possible improvements. Even stupid writing assignments have some personal investment.
3) Patience - Stay calm, and do not take things personally if your child decides to go another route or disregard your suggestions. Remember: he/she is the writer, meaning he/she has the final word.
4) Listen, Repeat, Ask - Let your child tell you his/her concerns and ideas. Repeat how you interpreted what they said or what you think they are trying to say. Ask clarifying questions if you are confused by what they said or by what they are trying to communicate in the paper.
5) Don't Be Too "Helpful" - The tutor's job is to guide the writers, not write for them. If you find yourself talking for most of the time or writing a lot on your child's paper, step back and let him/her write the corrections.
At the end of the day, writing is very personal; it's your child's thoughts and beliefs on paper. To criticize the piece is to criticize the writer. Be gentle in your suggestions.
What to look for…
Organization - Does the order of the paragraphs make sense?
Audience - Who is the writing piece for? Teacher? Students? Other?
Ideas - What is the writer trying to say? Relates to thesis (if using one)?
Voice - Is the voice appropriate for the assignment? Is the writing humorous, cynical, serious, vague?
Grammar/Fluidity - Are there grammar errors (missing commas, misspelled words, run-on sentences, wordiness, etc)? Does each paragraph smoothly transition into the next one?
Requirements - Does the writing composition fulfill the requirements (format, length, topic, etc.)?
Clarity - Does the writer say what he/she is trying to say? If there is a thesis, is it proven?
Insert your ideas into the paper
Become frustrated or angry
Interrupt; let your child have time to think
If you don’t have time to go through a brainstorm or a paper, there are other ways to develop your child’s writing skills.
The Daily Life...
1) Encourage outside reading - For many students, there is so much reading involved in each school day that outside reading can easily be neglected. But, outside reading could be as simple as online articles or short papers, not just lengthy books. One way of doing this is by forwarding to your child an article you found interesting. Doing this on a regular basis will expand your child’s understanding of the literary world.
2) Expand vocabulary - Parents can instill a wide range of vocabulary in their child by having “the word of the day” or by pointing out the fun words or phrases you come across in your daily reading.
3) Suggest Writing It Down - When your child is struggling with an event at school, something that was said, or a lingering question, suggest writing it down. Writing can be a way to process the mundane all the way to the life-changing experiences. Provide your child with a diary or journal in which he or she can write and reflect.