I posted this on the The Writing Course Group Page (FaceBook), but realized it should be a post here too:

OK…so…I’m not the standard person out there, so these are my thoughts.

Basically, I accept that the maturity of the frontal lobes is not adequately developed for abstract thinking until 14-ish (finally matures around 25). Essays are discussions about one’s own thoughtful view.

So…we simply never had the kids start writing essays until they were 14 or 15. Our goal was to get them to master the sentence…and spelling…and punctuation…and how to get themselves to write…and how to come up with ideas.

I can say that all of our kids turned out to be really fine essayists (always excellent grades on essays in college).

Part of the trick is for them to build confidence…much easier when the brain is ready. In the classical model…12 to 14 is when kids work on logic (by arguing)…which is really what they need for essays.

Remember, essays are basically about one’s own view. If your child is getting good at articulating his own view about something, then great! If he just tends to quote others’ opinions, then give it a little more time. Quoting others is basically a book report.

Now…book reports are different than essays…might as well write plenty of these because they are good practice and improve reading comprehension.


Fred Ray Lybrand