How to Teach Composition Writing to Children

Give your students the skills needed to tackle composition.

To successfully compose written works, children must engage in complex thought processes and utilize critical thinking skills. Because this task requires much abstract thinking, teaching composition to students presents a challenge. Increase the likelihood of success in teaching this skill to children by breaking down the task of writing into manageable, and teachable parts. Educate students on how to move through the process required creating a finished written work.

Select a writing mode upon which to focus. Each writing mode varies slightly in purpose and style, making it vital you select one on which to focus as to not confuse young writing pupils. Start with simple modes, such as narrative writing and short description essays. Advance to more complex forms, such as compare-contrast essays and research-based compositions.

Present clear examples of what the resulting composition should look like. If possible, use samples of writing in that mode produced by children of the same age as these samples more closely approximate what your pupils will be capable of producing.

Explain the concept of audience to your pupils, providing them with examples of how audience matters within the context of writing. Ask pupils to consider how the ways in which they speak varies depending upon who they are talking. Explain that audience writing is similar to this and that they should modify the way in which they speak depending on who they are trying to reach.

Discuss the writing process. Provide pupils with a graphic representation of this process, hanging a poster or signs depicting each step of this process on your classroom wall for students to reference as they move through the steps.

Provide students with graphic organizers for brainstorming and organizing. Begin with a web, asking students to place their topics in the center of the web and adding off-shoots that elaborate on the concept. Select graphic organizers appropriate for your selected writing mode to help students further organize their information.

Assist students in transferring information from planning sheets to the essay itself through drafting. Instruct students to lay their planning sheets out beside them and transfer the information, expanding their notes into paragraphs, to produce a complete written work.

Pair students and allow them to peer revise papers. If your students have no previous editing experience, practice this skill by moving through some examples before asking them to engage in peer revision.

Review second drafts yourself to look for additional errors in need of correction. Look over each composition yourself, allowing students to benefit from your expertise and keen eye for errors.

Instruct students to word process papers to create polished final drafts. If students have no experience creating word processing documents, assist them in opening and formatting one of these documents.

Allow for sharing of work to promote student pride in their written creations. Either give students the opportunity to share their work, or place the work on display allowing others to view each student composition.

Erin Schreiner is a freelance writer and teacher who holds a bachelor's degree from Bowling Green State University. She has been actively freelancing since 2008. Schreiner previously worked for a London-based freelance firm. Her work appears on eHow, and RedEnvelope. She currently teaches writing to middle school students in Ohio and works on her writing craft regularly.