Developing their writing skills will be a crucial part of your teen’s academic success at high school and beyond.
At College, it’s very rare that a subject won’t require essay writing. Arts, science – most disciplines will involve written skills in one way or another.
And once you’re at College, you’re on your own. You’re stuck with whatever writing skills you developed at high school.
I’d say the majority of high school students don’t feel comfortable writing essays.
They may not understand how to apply what they have learnt in class to the essay format, or how to structure an essay, or how to structure paragraphs or sentences, or how to convey what they understand about the topic to the reader in a clear and concise manner.
Most likely, it’s all of the above.
Developing these skills is not something most students can do overnight. It takes practise.
But, it’s not all doom and gloom.
Essay writing can be made a LOT easier when the process is broken down.
Today I want to show your teen how simple essays are the best essays.
These pointers will help them simplify their essay writing so it becomes a manageable exercise that they can understand.
1. Strong yet simple essays discuss only one point per paragraph
A lot of teens trip over themselves trying to cram as much information as possible into an essay, or even into one paragraph.
That’s all each paragraph should have.
If your teen wants to discuss something else, it should go in another paragraph.
If the two points are related, linking the two paragraphs with a simple leading sentence at the end of the first paragraph or beginning of the second is a great way to earn some bonus points. Either way, the default rule is for each point to have its own paragraph.
2. A good essay uses simple language
If your teen thinks that they need to use a thesaurus to make every word they write sound smarter, they might end up sounding like Joey in Friends.
To get a good grade in an essay, your teen does not need the vocabulary of Stephen Fry.
Plain and simple language is all they need.
In fact, it will make their essay much more readable.
3. Think before you write
Your teen’s writing will come across MUCH clearer if they ask themselves, ‘what do I want to say in this sentence’.
This will prevent the waves of verbal diarrhoea that fill so many high school essays.
It will force them to think about they’re going to say before they put pen to paper.
It will also help them figure out their sentence structure before they start writing.
A lot of students launch into writing, get half way through a sentence, only to realise they don’t really know what they’re trying to say.
It’s no wonder the examiner doesn’t understand what they’re reading when the student didn’t understand what they were writing.
Cut the crap
This is what good essay writing is all about.
Getting rid of the fluff. Cutting the fat and leaving just a solid structure.
If your teen approaches essay writing with the aim of keeping it simple in mind, it will be a much less daunting task, and a much easier one.
Writing a good essay is really quite easy once you understand that both an essay’s structure and language should be kept very simple.
I’m sure your teen has all the skills they need to write an outstanding essay, they probably just thought it was a lot harder than that it really is.
Image Credit: KristinNador on Flickr