By Francie Alexander
Q: How can I help my 9-year-old daughter with the basics of writing a report or an essay?

A: Here is a seven-step plan for successfully completing a research report:

1. Choose a topic.
This is a critical first step. Your daughter will do a better job if she is clear on the topic, and, if possible, if it is one of her choosing.

2. Make a plan.
Have your daughter complete a calendar of what activities have to be accomplished in order to finish her report. For example:

Sunday

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

Saturday

1
select a topic

2

3

4
check topic with teacher

5

6

7

8
do research/ take notes

9

10

11

12

13

14

15
do outline

16

17

18

19
write report

20

21

22

23

24

25

26

27
edit report

28

29

30
*report due!*


A blank calendar is available to help your daughter plan her report.

3. Check with the teacher.
Many teachers will ask students to identify a topic, while others will assign a topic. In any case, it is a good idea to get the teacher's approval of the topic.

4. Conduct research and take notes.
Your daughter should use several sources. She may use books, periodicals, and the Internet, with appropriate guidance. It is very important that your daughter understand how to take notes and that she not copy the text of others word for word. One way of doing this is to have her read a passage, then rephrase it in her own words in the notes. This helps avoid plagiarism later — an important lesson in report writing.

5. Outline the report.
Now it is the time to organize the information she has collected. It is easier to write a report after outlining the content.

6. Write the report.
Following the outline, it is time to write the report.

7. Edit and reread the report.
Checking one's work is a hallmark of a good student.

The following Scholastic resources provide more detail on report writing:

• Writing With Style by Sue Young
• Putting It in Writing by Steve Offinoski The Kid's Guide to Research by Deborah Heiligman with the cooperation of the New York Public Library

You may want to monitor your daughter's progress on the report using the calendar she developed. You daughter will prepare many reports through her years in school and mastering these steps will help her do her best.