7 Tips to Help Kids Learn to Self-Edit Their Writing
It’s important to revise and edit your work, but it can be a difficult process for kids and even adults to do properly. We’ll go over 7 steps to help you show kids how to self-edit their writing so they can eventually do it on their own.
Focus on writing.
You want your child to write without being worried about self-editing. Tell them to get their words down first and then worry about editing in a future draft. It’s important here not to hinder the creative process.
Explain the editing process.
Children are very protective of their work as it is very personal to them. If they’re finding errors they may get frustrated or it might affect their self-confidence. A good suggestion provided by Lucy Hamilton, an educator at Academized is that you:
“Explain to your child that every person from their parents to famous authors and celebrities make spelling mistakes. This is a good way to open up an explanation about the necessity of editing, and that it’s simply a way to make their work even better than it already is.”
Break the process down into a list of tasks.
With your child, write a list of tasks for self-editing. This will help them understand the steps and avoid frustration down the road. Say something like ‘what steps should you take to edit your work?’ and when they suggest items for the list you can encourage them further by complimenting their ideas! Grammar and punctuation (or whatever else they suggest) is a great thing to review for and to include in your list of tasks.
Once the list is done, break it down into priorities to find out what’s the most important to do. This will make the task seem less major and reduce any frustration. It’s important to share that they should edit one thing at a time to be more effective. For example, they should first read-through and look for only a certain type of error, like punctuation.
Take a break from the work.
If you have time, it’s best to wait a day or two between writing and self-editing. Explain to them, that it’s easier to edit when you’ve waited some time because you can distance yourself emotionally from your work. You can say that after waiting some time you are more likely to notice certain words that you’d like to change or story details.
Use other resources.
Teach your child to use other resources to self-edit like a dictionary or grammar reference so they don’t make guesses about fixing mistakes. With the internet being so available, there are countless online tools that you can also use to help with editing, including the interactive Imagine Forest Dictionary and Thesaurus tool.
Create the right environment.
You want to have the right environment for your child to be able to self-edit effectively. Pick the right timing so they don’t feel any rush to edit, because this will put anxiety and frustration on their shoulders. Ask them when they’d like to edit, suggest a time before or after dinner.
Provide all the right tools that they might want before they start so there’s no reason to procrastinate during the task. This includes things like pens and pencils of different colors, highlighters, post-its and sticky notes, papers, a ruler, calculator, a computer, a dictionary, any worksheets they might have, and the checklist they prepared earlier.
Suggest that they read out loud each part of their text so it forces them to slow down and catch some errors. Ideally there should be no noise in their workspace.
Let them know that if they need help with anything you’re right there for them. The last thing you want to do, is do the work for them – Since they’ll never learn. But you can provide help when needed and in the right way. Ask them to show you where they’re having trouble, and ask them if they’ve tried alternatives. Help them get to the solution and with time, you can reduce the amount of help that you need to give. The key here is to be patient and understanding and not get frustrated with your child. It will raise their confidence so that they can learn to successfully self-edit.