Essay Writing

How to get your teen to do more analysis in their essays

We know that our teens need to ‘analyse’ more in their essays, but how do we encourage and support them to do this?

If your student is stuck on ‘summarising’ or ‘storytelling’ in their essays, you know they must increase the amount and level of their analysis (see previous post), but HOW do we do this?

Be: supportive and accepting

If you don’t think your teen’s idea is any good, STOP yourself from reacting emotionally!

Don’t say anything like:

  • That’s wrong
  • How can you miss that?
  • That’s stupid/silly/shallow
  • Read it again
  • You haven’t read the book properly/you need to do more study

When you respond with judgement or a very critical tone, our teens are instantly going to shut down and stop engaging with the text, which is the last thing we want!

Approach their response from a position of curiosity and ask open ended questions like:

  • What did you read in the text that makes you think that?
  • How did you reach that conclusion?
  • Tell me more about why you wrote that sentence
  • Expand on that thought for me – what did you mean by…

Their answers might surprise you!

At TSE Tuition, we also love the question:

How does your evidence prove your topic sentence is true?

Asking (respectfully) our student to dissect how their evidence or quote engages, supports, and validates the main idea of their body paragraph (aka a topic sentence) is a powerful way to teach our students how to analyse.

At the end of the day, we need to stop pretending that we have the answers to everything (because we don’t, obviously!) and we need to be humble enough to accept our teens have valid thoughts and feelings about the texts they’re made to study!

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