A lot of parents come to Exodus Books looking to fix a particular problem in their kids' educational development. One of the most common is, "My kid loves telling stories, but hates to write. What can I do?" The answer they usually get is quite different than what they're expecting: the best way to get your kids to love writing is to teach them the "boring" fundamentals.
The ability to write well depends on two skills. Good writers are able to think clearly, and are well-versed in grammar, usage, and language mechanics. There are plenty of programs that focus on the first skill; for the second, the Editor in Chief series from the Critical Thinking Co. is a great place to start.
How Do These Work?
It should be pointed out from the start that the Editor in Chief books are NOT a grammar curriculum. Students will need to be taught grammar from a different source. These books help kids apply the grammar skills they've learned in a realistic context, by editing paragraphs for mechanical, grammatical, spelling, and consistency errors.
Each consumable book teaches kids the fundamentals of editing (including basic editing notation) by presenting paragraphs or stories with errors that students are to identify and fix. These are easily student-directed texts, though students who are struggling will doubtless benefit from parent involvement as they complete exercises. Answers to all exercises are found in the books themselves.
Errors include spelling, grammar, punctuation, and other mechanical mistakes. They also include story detail mistakes, so that kids are required to pay close attention to agreement within each text. This is possibly one of the most overlooked aspects of self-editing, and to see it clearly adressed in this course is quite refreshing.
In the two Editor in Chief Beginning books, students are told how many of each type of error students will find in each paragraph; in the regular lessons each paragraph has several of one kind of error, while in the review sections kids learn to edit paragraphs for several types of errors at the same time.
In the regular Editor in Chief books (volumes A1-C2 or the newer levels 1-3) present progressively more difficult editing exercises, along with progressively longer and more complete grammar/usage/punctutation guides in the back. Every story is illustrated with a single black and white image, though these images aren't part of the exercises.
Students have the option to insert edits directly into the existing text, or to rewrite the entire edited text below or on a separate sheet of paper. If they choose the latter option, they're likely to have many of the concepts reinforced simply by the act of writing out the corrections; if they choose the former option, they'll learn basic editing notation.
Our Honest Opinion
This certainly isn't a complete grammar course, and it's not even a complete editing course. It is, however, an excellent introduction to the principles of editing, and will give students some of the observational skills they'll need to identify problems in their own written work. The Editor in Chief series is highly recommended for beginners or those needing some remedial work; for kids who are proficient in grammar and composition, they aren't necessary.
Review by C. Hollis Crossman
C. Hollis Crossman used to be a child. Now he is a husband and father, teaches adult Sunday school in his Presbyterian congregation, and likes weird stuff. He might be a mythical creature, but he's definitely not a centaur.Read more of his reviews here.
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