Be your child’s writing coach
One of the most important parts of being a writing coach in your children’s lives is finding a way to convey appreciation for the original writing while conveying important information that might grow or enhance the writing. This delicate balance can be achieved when you deliberately respect the original writing.
One way you show respect is to *not* write on it. You can read it as it is and when you do decide to put feedback or corrections on the paper, you do so on a photocopy of the original. You preserve the original, and comment on a copy.
Secondly, you can use pencil on that photocopy to convey changes or suggested enhancements rather than pen. Your child can erase comments that don’t feel helpful, and the pencil gives the impression of suggestion rather than demand.
Thirdly, write positive comments on the photocopy, not just corrections. Underline great phrases, circle good word choices, put an exclamation point next to an idea that impresses you. You can tell your child your code for conveying your approval. It’s also nice to jot positive notes, like, “Excellent use of dialog” or “This is a well-chosen fact” or “I like how you incorporate your personal experience…”
Lastly, remind your young writers that they don’t have to take your corrections—it’s their right as authors. They can pick and choose what to apply to their work. You might mention that picking one or two to apply is a good habit to get into, but try not to press your case. Give this point as information, not as parent-to-child command.
My comment to you about that last item: don’t worry if your kids don’t apply all of your suggestions. The mistakes they leave in their writing will magically reappear at a later date to be addressed again. And if they don’t, then you’ve spared yourself having to “argue” about a point they internalized and corrected independently in future pieces.
Respect the writer (preserve the original writing).
Respect the writing (use a photocopy and pencil for feedback).
Offer feedback (positive and corrective) in a spirit of support.
Allow the writer to determine how to apply the feedback.
Cross-posted on facebook
Image by bennthewolfe