If you want your child to become a good soccer player, what should your child do?
- Read the life of soccer great, Pele?
- Watch reruns of World Cup games?
- Run, kick, swivel, block, interfere and score during thousands of practice sessions?
If you want your child to become a good piano player, what should your child do?
- Prowl through Mozart’s haunts in Vienna?
- Listen to jazz great Erroll Garner perform multiple versions of the same tune?
- Practice scales, practice chords, practice phrases, practice, practice, practice?
Becoming a good writer, like becoming a good athlete or musician, is a skill which needs to be honed by thousands of hours of practice. There’s no shortcut to practice.
I have parents pay me to tutor their children in writing, yet between our lessons, some children do no writing. Would you pay a coach to work with your son in a batting cage for an hour a week and then allow the boy not to hit the ball until the next lesson? Would you pay a violin teacher to work with your child for an hour a week and then allow the child not to practice for her next lesson?
If you want your child to improve his writing, then he needs to practice daily. Few teachers allocate an hour of class time daily to practicing writing skills. If you want your child to improve, it’s up to you to enforce writing time.
How? Find a topic for your child to write about. Lists of writing topics abound on the internet. Have him create a prewriting organizer and a first draft; oversee his revisions; ask him to rewrite; and then read what he has written so that he has an audience. Offer suggestions for improvement. Is there a clear topic statement? What part is not clear? What information has been left out? Does the writing diverge? Where are grammar and spelling errors?
Even if you are not an English teacher, you are a reader and can offer your child feedback on his writing. Ask him to take your suggestions and improve the writing. Good writers rewrite and rewrite. Help your child get over the notion that one occasional draft is enough.