Teachers talk about essay structure and how parents can help, even if they're not familiar with the topic of the essay.
At a glance
- Determine 'what is the question asking?'
- Essays follow a specific formula.
- Introduction – state your response to the question and mention the points to be made in the body of the essay.
- Body – expand on the points introduced in the introduction. Don't introduce new thoughts at this stage.
- Conclusion – summarise the points discussed in the body.
- One idea per paragraph.
- Proofreading your child's essays helps them and lets you stay in touch with what they're doing at school.
Writing essays is a skill many of us have forgotten. Here are some reminders to help you and your child.
There are some really practical ways which a parent can help their child – it doesn't matter if they don't know the content themselves.
If they are writing essays, essays can be very overwhelming for students.
Parents can help children with their essay writing by organising their thoughts. To start with they need to discuss with their child, "What is the question and what is the question really asking?"
They need to carefully look at the questions they're being asked. The question should always have a key term – it's usually the first word of the question, it may be later, and they are things like explain, discuss, outline, analyze, identify.
Have a conversation around that and really nut out the key points and jot those key points down.
In each examination the verbs actually ask a really specific thing.
For example, if they're asking you to evaluate, what they're really doing is asking you to make a judgement about something.
If on the other hand they're asking you to just name and define something, they're asking you to name it and explain what that thing is about.
But they are different things, so a student really needs to understand what the verb of the question is asking for them to do it and be successful at responding to that.
Circle the important words in the question and make sure you focus on what they're asking you to do, not what you want to do.
Essays follow a very specific formula.
Practise your essay structure, so that you're following the introduction, body and conclusion.
They start with an introduction that introduces everything that's going to be discussed in the essay that will follow.
Really make sure you're addressing "What is the question asking?" and put forward your response to it.
And just in very key, short sentences, the points that you're going to be discussing in your essay to support your answer.
Those key points form your introduction and each point starts a paragraph.
Topic sentences which introduce what each paragraph is going to be about.
In each paragraph you need to expand on that point, to elaborate and explain – and draw upon the text or the sources – why it is that you are putting forward this point of view or this argument.
Knowing your language features – so metaphor, simile, personification.
You have an example from your text, and then you explain the effect of using that language feature because authors don't use language features just to pad, they use it to have an effect on the audience, so it's important that the students understand that and it's got to relate back to that question.
Every idea is a new paragraph so that they don't end up with gi-normous paragraphs. One idea one paragraph. Students should be learning that from primary school.
Then your conclusion needs to sum it all up, but you never include any new information because that shows you haven't planned.
So the introduction introduces all the points of an essay, and then each point is expanded on in the subsequent paragraphs and then all of those points are rounded up and brought together in the conclusion.
We say, essay writing:
- Introduction – say what you're going to say.
- Body – say it.
- Conclusion – say what you've said.
One thing that parents can do to help their children in high school is to proofread their homework.
By proofreading you'll not only help your child, and offer a sense of support, that can help them feel more confident with the work that they're then submitting, but it can really help inform the parent about where their child is at.
You get to learn more about their life in high school, as well as where they're at academically and ways that you can help them.
There are more videos, articles and glossaries to help your child with writing at www.schoolatoz.com.au
Step-by-Step Guide to Writing an Essay
So your teacher assigned another essay to write. Does the mere thought of putting pen to paper – or fingers to the keyboard – send shivers down your spine? For many students in elementary, middle or high school, it does, but writing an essay shouldn’t be intimidating. As long as you know the basic steps of essay writing, you should be well-equipped to handle any essay topic.
Determine What Type of Essay It Is
There are many different types of essays you might be asked to write in elementary, middle or high school. Some of the most common include narrative, expository, argumentative, persuasive, comparative and literary. Are you presenting an overview or telling a story about the topic (narrative) or are you providing an analysis (expository)? Do you have to convince the reader to adopt a certain point of view or to take a particular action (persuasive)? Are you writing an essay about a book you read (literary)? Determining the type of essay is the first step to writing a targeted essay.
Create an Essay Outline
An essay outline is your road map. It will guide you through to the finished product. When you create an outline, you organize your thoughts about your topic. First, write your topic at the top of the page. Then list all the points or arguments you want to make about the essay topic. Finally, list the facts, examples and statistics that support those points or arguments.
Develop a Thesis Statement
Your thesis should inform the reader what point you will be making or what question you will be answering about the topic. In other words, it is a prelude to your conclusion. A thesis statement should be as specific as possible and address one main idea. Strong theses also take a stand or illustrate the controversial nature of a topic.
Introduce Your Topic
The first paragraph of your essay will introduce your topic and provide direction for the entire essay. The introduction should discuss your main idea, or what the essay is about, then state your thesis and points or arguments that support your thesis.
The introduction also sets the tone for your essay, and you want to grab the reader’s attention with interest and clarity. To capture the reader’s attention, you can make a challenging claim about the topic or present some surprising (but factual) information.
Write the Body of the Essay
The body of the essay provide details for the points in your introductory paragraph that support your thesis. Take the points you listed in your introduction and discuss each in one body paragraph. First, write a topic sentence that summarizes your point then explain why you feel the topic sentence is true. Finally, support your argument with evidence such as facts, quotes, examples and statistics.
Present Your Conclusion
The conclusion summarizes the essay and gives the reader closure. In three or four concise sentences, you should reiterate your thesis and review the main points of the body of the essay. Just be sure not to restate your previous words exactly. You can even briefly describe your opinion of the topic. Your final sentence should uphold your main idea in a clear and compelling manner.
Just remember to tackle each step one at a time. Some people do better when they work backwards from the conclusion. Write a rough draft of your essay first – don’t try to get it perfect the first time through. After you finish your rough draft, proofread it thoroughly and revise until you have a strong, informative essay.
Interactive Essay Writing Classes
Online lessons like Time4Writing’s essay writing classes can help children build and strengthen the foundation for strong essay writing skills in elementary school, middle school, high school and beyond. These interactive essay writing classes build basic writing skills, explain essay types and structure, and teach students how to organize their ideas.
Time4Writing is popular as a writing homeschool curriculum, for afterschool enrichment, for remediation, and as a summer school alternative. All of Time4Writing’s online lessons are led by certified writing teachers who provide valuable feedback after every writing assignment.
Learn more about Time4Writing today!