Wait, I can prepare my kid for college starting in Kindergarten?

Around this time of year, I am usually in a tizzy with college admission essays. This has always been something that I loved to do. Reading their stories. Helping them highlight their voice and culture so that colleges can realize just how amazing they are.

Many of these students pour out their hearts in their essays. Painful stories about sexual abuse and divorce to powerful stories of overcoming disorders and fear. They truly are remarkable.

Sadly, most times, I am presented with powerful, life-altering stories that have been written EXTREMELY BADLY. The voice of the student is often lost behind a wall of grammatical and sentence errors so large I don’t know where to begin.

When I tell parents that I edit essays for students, they are always so intrigued about what they can do to help their students. I have spent the last few years pondering tips to provide for writing essays. But nothing ever seemed to hit the nail on the head… until this year.

As I was going through another round of essays for the Class of 2019, the problem became so evident. I can distinctly tell which of my students READ and which students do not read.

My students that read have a wild imagination. Diverse sentence structure. Less grammatical errors. Diverse words. And they are able to easily narrate the story of their lives.

My students that do not read write in a box. They use simple short sentences. They have issues with your vs. you’re as well as their, they’re and there. Their imaginations live in a tiny box. A small cramped box that doesn’t allow them to imagine a world that is not their own.

My students that read mimic the writing structure of their favorite authors. They are able to string together words in a beautiful sequence that leaves me inthralled. My students that do not read struggle to find the words to share their story.

So what can you do to prepare your child for college? Create a culture of reading in your home…starting NOW.

Leslie, they don’t like to read books? I never said read books. I said read. Articles. Magazines. Closed Captioning on the TV. Recipes. Just read.

Leslie, they don’t like to read? Many times children mimic what they see. I saw my parents work hard. So I work hard. My parents valued education. So I valued education. My mama cleaned the house on Saturdays. I cleaned my house on Saturdays… catch my drift? Do your students see you reading?

As an educator, I have found one thing to be true. Everyone loves to read, if you don’t, you simply have not found the right thing to read yet.

Help your student explore the world of reading. Spend money on good books and good series. Invest in a e-reader if they prefer to read that way. For Christmas, my nephews get one toy and one book. Instill the value of reading all around them. Read road signs. Make them order their own food off the menu at the restaurant. Carve out time to read throughout the day and never leave home without a book!

Need help? When I am looking for a new read, I always check the New York Time’s Best Seller list.

Ask your students teacher what the “popular” books are in their classroom library. I am sure they have a list of books to share!

So you want your Kindergartener to write an amazing college essay? Encourage them to read.

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