10 Ways to Become a Better Editor

So you have your children writing every day. Great! Now, of course, you need to become their editor. Here is where some find a challenge in the natural approach to language arts. What if I don’t feel competent to edit my child’s writing? We’ll address the underlying problem with that argument further down, but for now — here are 10 ways to become a better editor of your child’s writing:

1. Read A Strong Start in Language.

Beechick Basics

This Ruth Beechick title for beginning grades is recommended widely — from The Well-Trained Mind to Sonlight. Typically packaged as part of The Three Rs, A Strong Start in Language helps you become the editor from the beginning — from the time your child traces his first letters, to copywork, and through dictation. Read our full review (scroll down).

2. Read You Can Teach Your Child Successfully.

Beechick Basics

Over 100 pages are devoted to writing in this followup to the Three Rs by Ruth Beechick mentioned above. The book speaks to you as your child’s tutor and therefore includes writing activities, writing lessons to get you started and that you can pattern your own lessons after, and suggestions for usage, grammar, mechanics, and spelling. Best of all it tells you what you can expect from your child at various levels on the writing scale. Very valuable reference to finding your way as you teach writing naturally to your children and we cannot recommend it highly enough. You can read our full review (scroll down).

3. Use Learning Grammar Through Writing.

Learning Grammar Through Writing

This handy reference published by Educators Publishing Service is now out of print. But it is worth finding. When you find a mistake in your child’s writing, you can find the coordinating pithy rule with an example to have your child copy into a grammar notebook. A checklist at the back helps you keep track of the skills you have covered.

4. Read good books.

The best way to improve your editing is to read good writing. While you work through the suggestions above, you can be building your foundation in good writing at the same time.

5. Make use of a dictionary.

Before the days of Kindle we had electronic dictionaries handy that included a grammar reference. Although somewhat pricey, the better models not only include the definitions, but also the etymology of the word. Most also come with a built-in thesaurus and other tools. If nothing else, a good dictionary can shed some light on how words are properly used in sentences.

6. Learn to diagram.

Not popular with some, but a valuable skill for understanding how words work in sentences. There are easy online courses that can help you quickly learn the basics. For simple and easy practice we like The Complete Book of Diagrams by Mary Daily published by The Riggs Institute Press, which also is a great help for Mom.

7. Use Learn to Write the Novel Way.

While your child writes his novel as he works through this book, you have a guide that helps you edit your child’s writing. Learn by doing. Read our full review.

8. Read The Elements of Style.

The Elements of Style {Free eBook}

This widely recommended classic by Strunk and White holds the title for the most concise and simple usage, composition, and spelling reference. There is even an early version in the public domain.

9. Read How to Write Clearly by Ruth Beechick.

Beechick Basics

Subtitled, The Meaning Approach, this is another handy writing reference that covers finding a topic, getting organized, outlining, using abstract and concrete terms, sentences, comma usage, active and passive voice, choosing words, usage, and more! Read our full review.

10. Learn Latin.

It’s never too late. Having a working knowledge of how Latin works is probably one of the best ways to understand how the English language works.

You will also want a grammar reference. Our favorite grammar reference is the Handbook of Grammar and Composition published by A Beka. We purchased it on a recommendation in The Well-Trained Mind and haven’t looked back.

Now, back to the initial question: what if you don’t feel competent to edit your child’s writing? You do know how to write, yes? In this day of streaming output you may even write for a blog or other publication. Using the ideas above, you should be able to stay ahead of your child’s work. Of course, at some point, if you feel you are losing ground there are many qualified and reputable online writing tutors available.

Additional Resources

Handbook of Grammar & Composition from A Beka
This is our favorite reference for the older student who is writing well. Will carry a student through the upper grades and beyond.

16 Tips: Building a Better Writer
What to have your child do.

“Natural” Language Arts Scope and Sequence {Free}
More structure for those who need it.

10 Ways to Use Notebooking: #4 Writing
Where to put the writing.

10 Ways to Use Notebooking: #5 Grammar & Spelling
You’ll also want to have your child keep one of these.

Grammar Workshop
Grammar helps for Mom.

Writing Helps
More help for Mom.

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