Originally Posted: Jul 16, 2015
Last Updated: Jun 12, 2017
Many students want to improve their writing skills but have little time to work on them. This comes as no surprise, as high school students are inundated with a massive amount of course work, test prep, and extracurricular activities during the school year. Writing is one of the best skills a high school student can possess; it’s essential for AP prompts, application essays, and test prep, and high-quality writing serves as a valuable communication tool. Students who are able to express themselves appropriately in writing will have a better chance of succeeding in college as well as later on in the workplace. Here are four ways to strengthen those skills during a stress-free summer break.
Avid writers are also experienced readers. Reading is a great way to broaden vocabulary, experience words used in context, and get a feel for different types of sentence structure and flow. In order to be a well-balanced writer, authors should also be well-balanced readers. Everything from 17th-century war novels to science fiction stories to entertainment blogs are all great ways to work on reading comprehension and improving writing simultaneously.
Students who have a little extra time over the summer can utilize their reading list as a writing tool. Younger students will have a recommended reading list from their classroom teacher, and AP students will have a mandatory reading list due in the fall. Students can write a brief summary at the end of each section or chapter of every book. Summarizing is advantageous because it’s a short activity that allows the student to break the task up into different parts. In addition to providing writing practice, the summaries can be saved for study later on. After writing the summary, students should think about whether or not they would be interested in reading it themselves. Is the vocabulary varied? Is the paragraph easy to read? Does the summary paragraph contain a topic sentence and a concluding sentence? The more exciting and intriguing the summary paragraph is, the more likely the writer is to engage their audience when writing longer assignments like an in-class essay or research paper.
3. Write about something interesting
One of the barriers student writers face during the school year is the inability to choose the topic they write about. Many students would be thrilled to write about one of their hobbies or interests such as sports, arts, video games, traveling—anything. However, most students write about a specified topic from their assignment list during the school year. If a student is no longer engaged as a writer, they are encouraged to write about things they enjoy so they view the writing process as something positive. Things that are fun are generally higher in quality.
4. Work with a tutor
A tutor can help encourage an unmotivated student to improve their writing skills. Many students would prefer to spend the majority of their summer outdoors or with friends, and they should certainly have a chance to participate in these social activities. However, in addition to having some down time, even a couple hours a week with a tutor can help provide the structure needed for students to sit down, concentrate, and improve their skills. Working with a tutor also relieves the student’s parents from having to develop curriculum and review the particular assignments.