Most students think of winter break as a time to relax — sleeping in, visiting with family, enjoying eggnog, watching movies, and enjoying a stress-free holiday season. As we tell our students, however, winter break is also the perfect time to review their academic progress throughout the past semester. How are they doing in their courses? Are there particular skills that they need to develop or subjects in which they need some help?
Over the past 20 years, we’ve seen that writing is a consistent weak area for students. Each year offers more rigorous writing challenges in the form of English essays, history papers, and science lab reports. Students frequently find they do not have the skills to face these new tasks comfortably. Discomfort oftentimes leads to that nasty ‘p’ word — procrastination — which we hope to avoid.
MASTER THE WRITING PROCESS
A few years ago, having fielded numerous requests from parents and students for writing help, we launched our Writing Guidance Program. The aim of the program: to help students master the writing process during middle and high school, improving their work in their current courses and setting them up for success in future years.
Since we launched the program, we’ve worked with students on many types of writing. We’ve offered guidance on school assignments and independent projects, teaching students how to outline five-paragraph essays and working with them to map out long-term research plans. We’ve developed personalized lessons for students on topics like identifying strong evidence and improving the fluidity of their prose. We’ve even helped students to improve the analytical skills that underlie strong writing, showing them how to close read poetry, how to investigate historical data, and how to interpret camera angles and set designs in film.
WRITING GUIDANCE PROGRAM = RESULTS
As a result of our work, many of our students have seen improvements not just in their grades at school, but also in their comfort with writing projects. Students have celebrated with us when they do well on an in-class essay or a research project, and they’ve also reached out to let us know that — even months after our work together — they are still successfully using the techniques we taught them.
“H’s grades just came back, and I wanted to share the great news: A for English! Thank you so much for your amazing help.” – P.W., Writing Guidance Program parent
Working on their writing now also gives students the chance to become more concise, fluent writers before college. As their comfort with writing increases, their ideas become more engaging, their arguments improve, and they feel more confident in their creative powers.
IMPROVE YOUR WRITING: READ MORE
There are many ways to improve your writing. One of the best ways is to READ, READ, READ, as strong reading and writing habits almost always go hand-in-hand. (We’ve listed some other suggestions here.)
As for students who are struggling with writing and want some more targeted guidance: consider reaching out to us to see if we can help. Who knows? Maybe your stress-free winter break can become a stress-free second semester, too.