Q: How can I start teaching my child about how to edit their own writing assignments?

As a student begins learning the all-important skill of self-editing when writing, it’s often helpful for them to have a “checklist.” Here are some items to add to that checklist so they’ll know which areas to give extra attention to as they re-read their assignment.

 Is it focused? Make sure all sentences are on topic, and all paragraphs begin with a topic sentence and end with a closing sentence.

Are enough details included? If not, look for ways to add relevant and interesting details that will keep the reader interested.

Is it consistent? Check for subject-verb agreement and consistent tense throughout the story.

Have you read your piece of writing out loud? This is an excellent way to proofread. It is evident to the ear when something just doesn’t sound quite right, and typos or misspellings may also be revealed.

Can the vocabulary be more engaging? Have you included vivid vocabulary (detailed verbs, adjectives, and adverbs) and/or figurative language (if the assignment allows)? Remember to use your words to paint a picture in the minds of your readers.

Are all sentences complete? There should be no run-on sentences or sentence fragments since these distract from or distort meaning.

There are many levels in the editing process, and focusing on each, one at a time, will lead to a more poised and polished draft. If you’d like even more practice learning the techniques of editing and revision, Time4Writing offers two fun skill-building courses aimed at elementary writers, Informative and Narrative Writing. Each course guides students through the five steps of the writing process: prewriting, planning, drafting, revising, and editing. Sign up now to get your student prepared to be his or her own best writing critic!