I am going to share a couple of ideas with you. These are things I have done for many years with my own children. In Part One, I shared about how I used the 1800’s McGuffey Readers.
In this section, I will explain how to teach your student to enjoy editing and proofreading. This will greatly help improve writing skills. I will use my oldest (now 21), Rachel, as my example. This is what I did with her when she was little. Here are four ideas:
1. Quick sentence edit.
I gave Rachel four spelling words. She had to write a sentence for each word. I would look at them and see mistakes. I would not say what they were. I would point to the first sentence and say, “There are two mistakes here. Can you find them?” This made it fun for her, like a puzzle, detective game or adventure. She would search and search. If she could not find them, this is what I would do:
Example Sentence: My fathers house is blew.
I would explain the two errors in this way:
Error One –
Teacher: Are there several fathers? Or, is there just one father?
Teacher: “Fathers” is plural. So you would need to show that the house belonged to one father. Just add an apostrophe before the ‘s’.
(She would add the apostrophe.)
Error Two -
Teacher: The word “blew,” with that spelling, means to blow something. Are you talking about the color?
(Teacher writes the word b-l-u-e on a separate sheet of paper. The student erases the original word and changes it.)
All done! Why are there only four sentences? Because, it is quick and easy and does not exhaust the child.
Progress: As you get into this habit, the child will start seeing her own mistakes and quickly fix them. All you will have to do is prompt her with the statement: “There are two errors in this sentence. Can you find them?”
2. Help Mom with Ideas
Every mother has to do some form of writing. Is it a handwritten letter? An email to a company? An article? A poem? Whatever you have written, ask your student for *genuine* help.
- If I was writing an article, Rachel (even as young as 10 years old) would proofread my first draft. She gave me her opinion. She LOVED to fix my spelling and grammar mistakes! I let her mark it up, make notes in the margin, and suggest alternative words or sentences for me to use, in order to make everything clear.
- If I was writing a book or story, (I did this in my living room) I would call her into the room. I would ask her questions like: “If someone was going to move his shoulders, in a form of gesture, to show he didn’t care, what word would I use?” She would say, “Shrug.” Or, if I had used a word too often in a paragraph, I would ask her to find the thesaurus and help me look up an alternative.
Each time she helped me with this, her knowledge and writing skills improved and gave her confidence. But what must be understood here is that I did not create these opportunities for the sake of teaching. I genuinely needed her help. If she didn’t know an answer, or didn’t come up with the right answer, I would find it myself and then let her know. I would do this in a fun way. Such as: Heading in her room with the dictionary and saying (with excitement), “I found the perfect word for that sentence!” She would smile, agree and then go back to playing.
*Let me make one thing very clear. Rachel wrote her own stories but I never edited them or attempted to correct them for her. This would have destroyed her ambition, confidence and interest in writing. I only corrected her during specific school lessons, in the way I described, above, in item #1.*
3. Automatic editing and proofreading
As Rachel would read books, magazines or even a church bulletin, she began noticing mistakes. I loved it when she pointed them out, or marked them up with corrections. This became second nature to her, after years of working with me.
4. How many people does it take to edit and proofread an article?
I would have each child correct an article I had written. Some would even find mistakes the other children missed. Each child was allowed to mark up my paper. They loved this and thought it was a game.
How long would these ideas take?
Generally, not more than 5 minutes. These lessons would happen here and there throughout a normal day at home.
*Disclaimer: Just because I have written about editing, does not mean this post is grammatically correct or in any way perfect. One often needs to proofread several times before every single mistake is found.*
In Part Three I will explain how to develop fun writing ideas for your students. We will use nothing more than a notebook, pen and a dictionary.
In Part Four, I show you How to Teach Mental Math Skills.