Most young writers I know do not enjoy revising. At all. When they’re done, they’re done. That’s it.
I get it. Whether it’s a long essay or a one-sentence answer to a math problem, by the time they finish, my kids are always in a hurry to move on to another activity. At some point though, mature writers learn that proofreading and making improvements to our work is an essential part of the writing process. I’ve been thinking about how to help my kids get motivated to routinely revise their work. I’ve decided that there are three easy ways I can help at home.
#1 Make sure kids understand WHY we revise.
Clearly explain the reason for revision. We look over our work and make improvements when we’re finished writing. We do this so we can be sure that we said what we meant to say in a way that is clear for the reader to understand.
Revision is a chance, not a chore! I know, that sounds cheesy. But really, once the hard work is finished, editing and revising is just the opportunity to polish your writing to make it really shine! I love this video clip from Scholastic called Revision is Not Punishment. With revision, (as with everything else we teach kids), our perspective and attitude can definitely make it or break it!
In general, helping kids develop a growth mindset helps them see that there is always room for improvement. Revision is not about fixing “dumb” mistakes, it’s really about making smart improvements. The best writers and thinkers continuously strive to make their work a little bit better through revision.
#2 Review HOW to revise.
Revision is critical reading. To revise, the writer has to put on his reader hat and look at the work from a reader’s perspective. Does the work convey the correct meaning? Is it a solid and clear answer? Is it easy to read and understand?
Make sure kids understand the expectation for revising at their grade level. Good writers re-read their work and look for mistakes or parts that they can improve. Ask kids to think about specific categories to check. Categories vary depending on the age group and skill focus. Young kids can begin by simply re-reading work to see if it sounds right. Older kids can first double check the basics like punctuation and spelling, then dig deeper to see how they can improve writing through better clarity or word choice.
#3 SHOW kids real-life revision in action.
We revise all day long. As I change my mind, scribble things out, take a different route or rethink a solution, I’m making an effort to talk through some of these revisions with my kids so they can see that revision is happening all the time. While writing texts or emails, I try to proofread aloud when my kids are around. The other day I asked my son to help me think of a better word to use in an email. He hates editing his own work, but it’s fun to find mistakes in mine!
Like most skills worth learning, becoming adept at revising is a process and I don’t expect a house full of eager revisers over night. I’m not inclined to teach a full-blown lesson on editing marks before bedtime, but sprinkling a few conversations about revision into our homework routine is definitely doable!