When you middle grader has an essay to write, does he hit a roadblock? Suggest these strategies for turning the information he has gathered into a winning paper.

Organize thoughts. Encourage your child to start by writing a strong thesis, or statement of what he’s trying to prove. Example: “The computer was one of the most important inventions of the 20th century.” Then, he can jot down several main ideas (the impact on the work place, the use of home computers, and how the computer led to the development of the Internet). Finally, have him list supporting facts for each.

Write a draft. The important thing at this stage is to get everything down on paper—he can polish and add details later. Remind him that an essay includes three sections. The introduction lays out the thesis and arguments he will make. The middle paragraphs should each include one main idea and at least two to three supporting details. The conclusion sums up his argument and restates this thesis.

Edit and revise. Have your child review this paper carefully. Tip: Suggest that he let the paper sit overnight and look at it fresh the next day. Then, have him read it aloud and ask himself these questions: “Have I given facts to support each main idea?” “Are my punctuation, spelling and grammar correct?” Once he has make his revisions, he can type a final draft and hand in an essay that he can feel good about.

Source: Permission from (c) 2007 Resources for Educator, a division of Aspen Publishers, Inc. Middle Years October 2007