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What sort of essay would you expect an 8 year old to be able to write?

(31 Posts)
herecomesthsun Wed 25-Jan-17 19:39:49

DS has some difficulties sitting down and writing in class. He had an essay type homework this week, the first extended piece of writing he has been asked to do this year. He could pretty much choose any topic he liked.

He wanted to use my laptop for this and I agreed. I showed him how to use spell check and word count and he was getting on famously, and easily managed a few hundred words.

I thought it would be a good idea to consolidate this and suggested that if he managed 1,000 words he might get a Lego reward. He saw this as a worthy challenge and easily managed it on a history subject he liked. He also copied his work out neatly into his homework book (I guess it was good handwriting practice).

His teachers seem to have been hugely impressed by this. Is it very unusual? Have I demanded too much? (I haven't got much idea how much they'd expect kids this age to write).

Or it might just be the contrast between how little he writes in class left to get on with it himself, perhaps? He does need a lot of encouragement/ chivvying/ consoling when he can't think what to write.

I'd be interested in any advice re supporting him also. My husband was a bit disapproving of the erm incentives.

Maybe trying to get him to write letters to fave authors/ Blue Peter/ Lego etc would be good.

ineedamoreadultieradult Wed 25-Jan-17 19:43:00

DS1 (9) wouldn't know what an essay was. If he was asked to write about X, y or z then he would but he wouldn't actually know what an essay was unless it was explained. He wouldn't be able to write to a word count either. It seems quite formal homework for an 8 year old.

herecomesthsun Wed 25-Jan-17 19:48:05

They were asked to write an explanation of something they were interested in, with an introduction, paragraphs, a conclusion, diagrams or charts if they wanted, using formal or passive language.

DS didn't quite manage such a formal construction, but he did manage quite a detailed and interesting piece of work.

The word count was my idea, I'm afraid, to give him something to work towards. He quite enjoyed totting it up on the computer also.

irvineoneohone Wed 25-Jan-17 19:49:19

I think that sound impressive!!!

Wigeon Wed 25-Jan-17 20:02:01

My 8yr old is doing really well at school but I'd be very impressed if she wrote 1,000 words on the computer (is his typing really good?) and then copied it out in handwriting too.

LowComotion Wed 25-Jan-17 20:08:42

C'mon OP, you really think writing a 1,000 word essay is a common thing for 8yr olds? hmm

RapidlyOscillating Wed 25-Jan-17 20:11:38

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

herecomesthsun Wed 25-Jan-17 20:17:57

I can't remember. I used to write quite long essays but this was over 40 years ago (old mum) and I ended up as an English graduate (and wanted to be a writer when I was at school) so prob I was a bit unusual.

I was trying to get DS to write more especially because he tends to find writing (anything) in class and getting motivated hard, to an unusual degree, even for an 8 year old boy, I understand. So I figured that if he was on a roll, it was good just to encourage him to write as much as possible. Even if it didn't have an introduction and a conclusion.

panicstationscentral Wed 25-Jan-17 20:20:56

A National 5 candidate in Scotland (think age16) submits two pieces of writing for a folio. Each has a word limit of 1000. Higher is limited at 1300

lapsedorienteerer Wed 25-Jan-17 20:23:58

One page of A4 absolute max at 8, no where near 1000 words!

herecomesthsun Wed 25-Jan-17 20:25:09

Ah. Maybe it was a bit excessive then. And I am wondering whether to ask school whether he can just print off work off the laptop (if the printer is working). It would be a lot easier to read/mark, but then again he does need to practice his (illegible) handwriting.

He is a lot better at typing than writing and he really likes the computer.

user1484226561 Wed 25-Jan-17 20:29:27

it isn't an excessive amount, it is an excessive expectation for a structures piece. Children can write narrative indefinitely, so if it was an actual essay, then very good. However, a lot of parents I have had to deal with in the past mistake quantity for quality.

panicstationscentral Wed 25-Jan-17 20:29:37

It's lovely that he managed it and that he enjoyed it! smile well done him!

panicstationscentral Wed 25-Jan-17 20:30:36

Also true about the quantity v quality. Brevity is in itself an art. But still he's 8 so well done him.

lougle Wed 25-Jan-17 20:34:01

A social science 1st year undergraduate uni standard length essay is 2500 words.

Honestly. DD3 is almost 8 and if she writes 100 words for her homework, I think she's great. You must have known that 1000 words was beyond the norm?

herecomesthsun Wed 25-Jan-17 20:35:08

It had a structure to it, but not quite the one asked for smile, I think they were hoping for something quite scientific rather than an account of some of the foibles of historical figures. I rather hope he gets another chance at doing a science one.

Thank you for the feedback, very interesting.

BikeRunSki Wed 25-Jan-17 20:37:02

My 8 year old son couldn't do that. He could probably put the words together if he could do it about Star Wars or Ninjago, but he would never have the discipline to write it all down, even in several attempts.

user1484226561 Wed 25-Jan-17 20:40:31

A social science 1st year undergraduate uni standard length essay is 2500 words. this is not exactly a fair comparison! The skill and challenge here would be to cut down from tens of thousands of possible words to a small, concise structured piece.

Last ( post grad) essay I wrote was about 3000, TEN TIMES harder than the 10 000 worder written a few weeks before

herecomesthsun Wed 25-Jan-17 20:41:07

Well, I remember doing a project on light that filled a whole scrapbook at a similar age, so, what, 16 pages or so? Can't remember exactly. But that had pictures as well.

Newtssuitcase Wed 25-Jan-17 20:45:15

DS2 is 9 and goes to an academically selective school. If he wrote a page of A4 I would be impressed with him. He does the bare minimum he thinks he can get away with (although would probably write more for lego)

Geraldthegiraffe Wed 25-Jan-17 20:45:38

My child could write indefinitely but if what was asked for was a scientific count and they just typed content to get to 1000words it really isn't the homework asked for or the skill they're looking for.

It sounds like what they wanted was an explanation, use of paragraphs and maybe a diagram. What you asked him to do was "write as long as possible" in direct contrast. I'm not entirely sure why you would ask him to do that.

herecomesthsun Wed 25-Jan-17 20:45:43

Also, at University, we would be asked to write just 500 words sometimes, but 500 words of original thought on Shakespeare.

The thing here was that my son finds sitting down and writing very hard in class - known to be bright but finding it hard to produce work, so getting the words flowing is especially heartening.

Geraldthegiraffe Wed 25-Jan-17 20:47:40

I teach secondary and have had to teach them how NOT to waffle and write as much as possible and instead learn to think through what is going into each paragraph, what point are they making.

It's like you're sabotaging his work. He won't be able to demonstrate evidence of a scientific account when rambles I ngs about historic figures are handed in.

SprogletsMum Wed 25-Jan-17 20:49:14

My ds is 8 and I struggle to get him to write a sentence. There is no way he would write anywhere near 1000 words and if he'd typed it he definitely wouldn't be willing to handwrite it too.

Oblomov17 Wed 25-Jan-17 20:57:31

Oh please. Ds2 hates writing a page worth. Have you ever been to an open day and seen the peers handwriting? You clearly have no idea what is normal.

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