Editing can be a hard part of this process for kids. A lot of kids like to write and just be done. Who wants to review what they have already done and fix mistakes, correct problems, add better transitions, etc? Probably not a lot of us, if we are being honest. Some kids might feel like their work is good enough and making corrections proves they aren’t doing enough. This can be a hard shell to crack, but with some ways that make this process easier kids are able to overcome this challenging, but needed step.
One thing that makes editing hard for kids is the fact that they are going to need to mark up their work. If writing is not their thing, getting to this point has been challenging and they probably feel like they have already accomplished so much. Marking up their work can be devastating. I like to have my kids save their completed work to this point, untouched. Each step in this writing process is saved so when we are done all these steps the kids have some amazing changes to look over. Seeing the process from beginning to end really helps them be able to jump into that next writing assignment that much quicker, and happier next time.
So if I do not have my kids mark up their work, how do they make any edits? There are two ways to do this and honestly either way works. Choosing which method is up to what you think will work better for you and your kids. So what are these methods? Simple…
Photocopy their original work and mark up the copy.
This method would be great for kids who are slow to type or do not like using computers. Also is great if you do not want your kids using the spell or grammar check that a computer program would offer.
Type up the paper and edit digitally.
This method is great if your kids love using computers. It is also great if your kids are poor spellers. Even a great speller can miss a misspelled work occasionally. For a poor speller the likelihood of them missing incorrectly spelled words while editing is much higher. By using the computer’s ability to spell check kids are able to pick up on and see mistakes they didn’t realize where even there. While the computer spell and grammar checks are helpful they obviously are not perfect. That is okay because we are going to be taking this editing step and breaking it down into two parts.
Whether you choose to photocopy their work, or have them type up their work there is still the process of how to edit that we need to cover. I like to take this step and break it down into two steps.
Mom editing (or otherwise know as the Revised Draft, Step 4)
Once the kids have their copy or typing is done, it is time to hand them a list. The list I am talking about is what you want them to look for in their work to improve. The list of things to look for can vary depending on how old your child is.
For example as a first grader I might have them…
Look for 4 misspelled words and circle them. Write the correct spelling above your circled words.
Do all your sentences have a period at the end? If not go ahead and add any that are missing.
Did you write any letters backwards or mix up a d for a b? If so, cross out the word that letter is in and write it correctly above the crossed out word.
For my middle-schooler the list would look more like…
Check for any spelling errors.
Are there any words you use more than 5 times? Change up some of those instances using synonyms.
Does your punctuation match what each sentence is trying to say? (Question has a question mark, statement has a period, etc.)
Did I use any proper nouns? If so, are they all capitalized?
Can I add more adjectives to help my reader “see” what I am writing about?
Did I keep my writing in the same tense from beginning to end? (Past, present, future)
Did I use any conjunctions (and, but, so, also, etc.) in a sentence more than once? If so, can I break up that run-on sentence into more than one sentence?
Do my paragraphs flow from one to the next smoothly? Would it help to add a few sentences to help make the transitions clearer?
By giving your child a checklist to move through the process, you are eliminating the confusion of what they are actually supposed to be doing. As they do more and more writing the checklist will start to be second nature. Until then, having that checklist gives them an easy way to attain better writing.
While I may not have a perfect printable checklist for each grade level, there is a good reason for that. Each kid is different. You know your child best. If writing is hard for them, giving them a long checklist to edit their own work can and most likely will cause a melt-down. If your child is a good writer, giving them a short list could cause them to not match what they are capable of.
My suggestion is to sit down and think of where your child is with writing and their knowledge of grammar. If they are new to writing, pick 3-5 items to make up their checklist. Each of the items you list should be things they have already learned about. For example, if your child does not know what an adjective is, than asking them to add more to their writing would not be helpful. If your child has gone through this process a few times, add another 1-2 items to their checklist. Always making sure that what you add is something they already know about.
Keep adding 1-2 new items or changing out the items every few writing assignments. I try to keep my kids checklist to 10 items or less. Anything more than that, and they seem to not focus as much on each item, and their writing shows the lack of editing. Remember, the idea is to get the kids thinking about their own writing, and looking for ways to improve it, all while allowing editing to feel like a step they can easily accomplish.
Once they feel they have completed the checklist it is time for them to either print out a copy of their typed up, edited work or to hand write out their paper with the corrections made. Step 3 is now complete!