Intro to editing and evaluating writing

Ways to give your kids writing feedback, plus tips to help you overcome insecurity and doubt about editing and evaluating their writing lessons.

Grading and commenting on your kids’ writing is one of the most valuable elements of writing instruction. But it also gives the most grief to parents, who often feel unqualified to identify and evaluate written strengths and weaknesses.

Seeds of Doubt

A host of “ins” and “uns” seems to attack parents when it comes to writing, making us doubt our ability to edit and grade objectively. With regard to teaching or evaluating writing, do you ever use any of these words to describe yourself?

  • Insecure
  • Uncertain
  • Incompetent
  • Unsure
  • Inadequate
  • Unequipped

Many of us wear these monikers like millstones around our necks, allowing the weight of our insecurities to immobilize us. At worst, teaching and grading writing don’t happen at all, or at best we’re sporadic, leaving Mom feeling guilty and our children awash in frustration.

It’s not that we don’t think it’s important to give our children input. But don’t we all have excuses?

  • I’m afraid I’ll be too hard on my child.
  • I don’t know how to grade a paper—there’s too much guesswork.
  • What do I know about writing? I’m just a math-science person.

And heaven forbid Mom should set aside her worries and actually make a comment. The smallest hint of suggestion from you and the drama begins.

  • But I like it this way!
  • You’re always so critical.
  • You never like anything I write!

Myths about parent editing

As a parent, perhaps you simply don’t know how to give objective input. So either you don’t give feedback at all—and therefore see no improvement—or you offer suggestions that make your child feel picked on or rejected. To help you renew your perspective, let’s look at three myths about parent editing.

Myth #1 – Editing and grading writing are too subjective.

  • Fact: Learning to edit is a process for both student and parent.
  • Fact: Many aspects of a composition CAN be evaluated objectively.

Myth #2 – It’s too difficult to edit and grade writing.

  • Fact: The more you edit and revise, the easier it will become.
  • Fact: Familiarity produces recognition—you will catch on!
  • Fact: There are tools (rubrics and checklists) to help you.
  • Fact: You don’t have to find every mistake. Even addressing just a few errors can help your child’s writing begin to change course.

Myth #3 – Editing and grading writing is for professionals.

  • Fact: Many parents cannot find mistakes in their children’s writing—but you can improve your skills! If you feel weak in a particular area such as grammar or spelling, take a “crash course” to refresh yourself. Buy a second student workbook and study the subject alongside your kids.  Or, consider a resource like The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation to help you brush up on key rules.
  • Fact: You CAN learn to edit and grade. Programs like WriteShop Primary, WriteShop Junior, and WriteShop I are good examples of homeschooling products that guide and direct parents through the writing and editing process.

Over the next few weeks, you’ll not only gain tips and tools to make editing and grading easier for you, you’ll also learn ways to help your children participate in the process through self-editing and revising.

We’ll start next week with tips for Editing and Evaluating Writing: Grades K-3.

I also know that parents tend to panic more as junior high and high school draw near. So if you have older kids, you’ll be happy to know I’ve got you covered as well. Stay tuned!

Copyright 2010 © Kim Kautzer. All rights reserved.

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