Generating Ideas for Writing - FamilyEducation

Generating Ideas for Writing

by Jonathan Mooney

Developing a paper topic is a tough gig. Find out how to make it easier for your child.

All good writing starts with a topic. With that said, often developing a topic is a tough gig. Some kids get overwhelmed with the number of ideas they have. Others might not know where to look, and still for some kids, they feel that there is nothing good to write about. Here are some ideas on how to empower your child to find the right topic:

Pre-writing: An age-old method, but best if you have a child who is the type of thinker whose mind works by meandering through different ideas. There are many different ways to pre-write. Brainstorming is a great method for some. Have your child write the class or subject of the assignment in the middle of a piece paper and just let her mind go. Another way is free writing. Have your child just write without stopping for three minutes. Then help her go back and look for anything that came up that seems to be paper-worthy. Highlight this, and if necessary, re-write it while it is fresh in your child's mind. And lastly, you can spice this one up a little by trying a spiral free-write. Have your child start with one topic and free-write for two minutes. Then pick a new topic from what your child just produced and start the process over again.

Talking it Out: Many children develop ideas by talking about them. Find a way to do this with your child, whether driving home from school, or at the dinner table. Or buy your child a tape recorder and have him talk out ideas and then replay them when it is writing time.

Reviewing the Syllabus or Course Outline: This is most relevant to middle- and high-school students who have course outlines passed out at the beginning of the year. This is a great resource and is really an outline for the class. Any one of the headings on this outline is a given topic for a paper or an idea to start a brainstorm.

Reviewing Notes: Lastly, your child's notes are a great place for them to find topics. They should pay close attention to anything that they red flagged or highlighted.

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