Whether students grow up to become historians or business people, lawyers or teachers, the ability to write is critically important. “While there is great value in being able to craft a story, nonfiction writing is that practical skill that people will need throughout their entire lives,” says Co-Founder and CEO Eileen Huntington of Huntington Learning Center. “We regularly remind our students at Huntington that one day, they will write memos and business proposals, emails and blog posts. It’s important that children hone their craft while they are students, because nonfiction writing is certain to be one of their most essential skills.”
How can children boost their nonfiction writing skills? Here are five tips:
Write with purpose. Whatever children write, it is essential that they remember to first plan the purpose of that writing. In school, that means following directions clearly and creating an outline to ensure the essay writing (or other type of writing) addresses what the writing is supposed to be—which might be to inform, make an argument, or explain an idea.
Always, always, always plan it out. For longer pieces especially, an outline is a must. This keeps children on track during the writing process so that whatever they’re writing flows from start to finish. Whether children are writing an essay or a book report, it’s always best to have a structure in mind first before beginning to write. Diving in without a plan is likely to result in a finished product that doesn’t make its point successfully and has unclear and/or unnecessary sections.
Know your audience. There are many types of nonfiction writing: factual, creative, persuasive and narrative, to name a few. Each has a different audience, which should dictate a writer’s approach and tone. For example, the audience of a college essay is an admissions officer. How should writing to that audience differ from essay writing or writing a speech for an entire student body?
Practice adjusting tone of voice. Obviously, an essay describing the process of constructing something should have a different tone than a compare/contrast assignment or personal narrative. But what exactly is tone? Think of it as the style and personality of one’s writing, which might be formal, scientific, cheerful or morose. Tone should adjust depending on the goal of the piece and the audience to which it speaks.
Follow best practices. There are a few writing strategies that will improve any piece of writing:
Organize the writing so that the message flows from introduction to body to conclusion.
Draft, edit, revise, review, repeat if needed, and proofread.
Polish those sentences to ensure there’s plenty of variety in structure and length.
Review with fresh eyes to ensure the writing is logical, follows directions and is easy to read.
Write in active voice by making sure the subject of a sentence performs the verb (e.g. The girl pushed the swing), as opposed to passive voice, which positions the subject of a sentence as being acted upon (e.g. The swing was pushed by the girl).
Avoid “fluff” words, obscure words, overly ornate words and too many words (less is more).
If your child has difficulty with essay writing or the writing process or simply needs reliable tools to improve those all-important writing strategies, contact Huntington. Nonfiction writing is something your child will use for the rest of his or her life. Now is the time to lay a solid foundation for your child to become a stronger, more confident writer.
Huntington is the tutoring and test prep leader. Its certified tutors provide individualized instruction in reading, phonics, writing, study skills, elementary and middle school math, Algebra through Calculus, Chemistry, and other sciences. It preps for the SAT and ACT, as well as state and standardized exams. Huntington programs develop the skills, confidence, and motivation to help students succeed and meet the needs of Common Core State Standards. Founded in 1977, Huntington’s mission is to give every student the best education possible. Learn how Huntington can help your child. For franchise opportunities please visit www.huntingtonfranchise.com.