Teaching students "The Forgotten R": Finding ways to instill the art of writing

August 7, 2012 11:43:24 AM PDT
Even in today's "back-to-basics" movement in schools, writing has taken a back seat to the renewed emphasis on reading and math. Some experts have gone so far as to call writing "The Forgotten 'R.'" Students need to understand the importance of writing not only to succeed in school, but to succeed in life. With many U.S. states mandating a writing component in their standardized tests, proper writing skills are more crucial than ever.

To help students become better writers, Dr. Richard E. Bavaria, Ph.D. and senior vice president for education outreach for Sylvan Learning, recommends following a few simple tips:

  • Spend time organizing your ideas and thinking about what you really want to say.

  • Prepare an outline before you begin to write.

  • Use transition words, such as "after," "although," "before," "however" and "therefore" to help your ideas flow together.

  • Be willing to revise. Change your sentences and paragraphs around, add material that lends to your writing and delete material that doesn't work.

  • Avoid clichés and jargon.

  • Always keep a dictionary handy to help with spelling.

  • Utilize a thesaurus to help you think of a new way to say something.

  • Ask someone else to edit your work.

  • Proofread everything. Make sure grammar, spelling and punctuation are perfect before you declare anything "finished."

  • Don't rely on a computer's spellchecker to ensure proper spelling.

The instructors at Sylvan Learning can also help hone your child's writing skills. With 32 centers within the tri-state area alone, there's sure to be one near you.