Help your child write an essay

By admin
29 April 2014

Are you at a loss for how to help your child with language homework - especially writing essays? This Teachers for Change teacher gives you some practical advice to give your child a hand with the writing process.

Are you at a loss for how to help your child with language homework - especially writing essays? This Teachers for Change teacher gives you some practical advice to give your child a hand with the writing process.

Planning is the most important part of the writing process. With proper planning 80 per cent of the work is done. Different types of essays require different ways of planning. Let’s look at the narrative essay and the descriptive essay as examples.

Narrative essays

  • Every story needs characters, a place, time, reason and events. We therefore use the “Take 5” hand diagram.
  • Use your writing hand and trace your other hand on paper in pencil.
  • Each of the five fingers has one of the following headings: who, where, when, what and why.
  • Write two short sentences in the middle of the hand without any details about the subject of your essay. The five fingers constitute the required detailed content of your story.
  • The idea is to have a brief plan and use keywords. Then before you write the first draft of your story, you already have all the elements in place.

Descriptive essays

  • A descriptive essay is about something you see, hear, feel, smell or taste. So why not use your senses in planning it?
  • Here you can use the spider diagram. Place the word, idea or scene you have to describe in the middle.
  • Each spider leg represents a sense: sight, hearing, touch, feeling (figurative), smell and taste.
  • Now connect keywords to each sense. You can now decide if you want to use a combination of all six senses or only one or two.

Write the essay

  • Plan your essay.
  • Start your first draft.
  • When you’ve completed the essay, use a dictionary to check words.
  • When everything has been checked, write your final draft as neatly and accurately as possible in your book.
  • Make sure your essay has a heading and that you’ve written the word count at the bottom. These two elements give you easy points.

Remember

Parents, please make sure your child knows their sound alphabet, not the capital pronunciation alphabet. A child reads with the sound alphabet. Your child has to read. Watching TV every night won’t improve your child’s language skills. By writing down words on paper, developing a vocabulary and using new words their knowledge of the language will improve.

A great influence in homework (and more so homework help for your child’s second language) is your attitude as a parent. If you like the subject and feel equipped to help with homework for the subject, your child will be more receptive to achieve in the subject. Unfortunately the opposite is also true. If you don’t like a subject, don’t feel competent to help with homework and your attitude suggests it’s not important, you do as much damage as a bad teacher. Our children look to us and learn from us.

-Marelize Swanepoel

Marelize Swanepoel has been an Afrikaans teacher for eight years and is currently based at Welridge Academy in Weltevredenpark, Johannesburg.

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