My children are always complaining that they never can say what they mean in their writing. Is there any way that they can learn to do this? -- Searching for an Answer


Fortunately, there is something simple that might help your children express their thoughts better when they write. What they need to do is really hear what they have written. For some, it works to read their writing out loud to themselves, paying attention to whether words or ideas are missing, seeing if thoughts are expressed in the right order, and hearing if they've said what they wanted to say. This doesn't work for all children, as they might not hear any flaws when they read their own work. However, they certainly will if someone else reads their writing to them.

If your children are young, they should try to perfect their message to the reader by reworking one paragraph, or even a sentence, at a time. Often, just a few sentences in a paragraph need to be rearranged, another sentence added, or more description given to make a paragraph meaningful. This is far easier to do if children can use a computer. If not, they can draw lines to move sentences to new places; use insert marks to add words, phrases or sentences; and cross out what they don't want. They should always reread the changed copy out loud to make sure they like their revisions. Older children can work on more than one paragraph at a time. They should usually start by reading an entire paper out loud, unless it is very long. As a dividend, an interesting thing happens when children get in the habit of reading or listening to what they have written: Their grammar tends to improve.