Five Tips for a Five-Paragraph Essay
To add to your child's balancing act of schoolwork, social life, and raging hormones, middle school introduces the expectation that he be able to organize, synthesize, and take ownership of his essays. The five paragraph essay structure should leave students feeling more in control than ever before, but they can be difficult to master in the beginning, especially when it comes to developing a thesis sentence.
What You Need to Know
The five paragraph essay is composed of an introduction with thesis, three body paragraphs supporting the thesis, and a conclusion. Each body paragraph should start with a clear reason that proves the thesis, followed by three examples that support each reason.
How You Can Help
Things to help your child remember:
- The essay should not be a mere recapitulation of a story's plot.
- Students must write clear introductions including only essential details that lead to a thesis statement.
- It may be difficult at first to distinguish reasons (which should kick off each paragraph) from examples (which are to support each reason).
- It may also be difficult at first to understand the vital instruction to, “Show, don't tell,” and distinguish between “showing” and “telling” examples. Telling involves merely relaying an example in terms of exactly what happened, but showing involves using specific details, scene descriptions, and supporting quotes to illustrate a point before even stating it outright.
- Starting out, a conclusion should be a succinct restatement of the thesis, or a brief relation to personal experience. This is not a place for brand new ideas – the conclusion should always relate back to the introduction, and this sometimes means returning to the introduction to make some adjustments to the thesis.
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