Strategies to Help High School Students Write a Strong 5 Paragraph Essay

Essay writing can seem like a chore.  Organizing thoughts cohesively into paragraphs, developing key points, writing a captivating introduction, and summarizing everything to create a conclusion is difficult for a lot of students. Nevertheless, essay writing is an important skill for any student to have, especially if they would like to attend a post-secondary institution.

essay writing

Before writing an essay, it is important for your child to outline the main points that will be developed. A mind-map can help him or her through this process. A mind map is like a recipe. If you do not use a recipe for baking then ingredients can be missed and the final product can be a disaster. The same thing goes for essay writing.


How to Create a Well-Developed Mind Map

A mind-map is a visual representation of thoughts and ideas. An example is shown below.

Image Source: Mind/Maps Unleashed

This is an exaggerated form of a mind map, but it illustrates 3 crucial elements of an effective mind map.

  1. The Topic: The topic forms the center of the mind map. Think of it as a tree. The topic would be the roots and the branches would be the main points. The topic should be enclosed in a circle or box and should be in the center of the page.
  2. Key point: Lines should be drawn from the center circle or box. A keyword that represents the point your child wants to develop should be written on the line. For a five-paragraph essay, there should be 3 branches; one to represent each point for the body paragraphs.
  3. Subpoints: Each main branch should have sub-branches. These sub-branches are where your child will write the ideas that come to mind when he or she considers each key point.

Spending the first five minutes of an exam developing a mind map makes essay writing a lot easier by ensuring it is more organized and no important points are missed.


The Components of a Strong 5 Paragraph Essay

A strong 5 paragraph essay has the following parts:

  1. Introduction
  2. Main Point 1
  3. Main Point 2
  4. Main Point 3
  5. Conclusion


The Introduction

This is where the stage is set for the rest of the essay. It should grab the reader’s attention and briefly explain the points that will be developed in the body of the essay.


The Body

The body of the essay is where you develop each of the main points. These main points form the branches of the mind map.  It is at this point that your child would refer to the mind map and organize the thoughts for each main idea.  Each main point should have its own paragraph.

Each paragraph should have:

  1. A topic sentence that describes the main point.
  2. Examples that support the topic sentence and help develop the argument.
  3. A concluding sentence that summarizes the main idea of the paragraph


The Conclusion

The conclusion brings all the points in the essay together. It summarizes the main ideas and can include personal recommendations for addressing the topic based on the ideas developed. No new thoughts should be included in the conclusion.


Putting It All Together

Essay writing does not need to be difficult. A mind map can help your child visualize the content for the essay and how it should be organized. This will allow the essay to be structured into five paragraphs that effectively explain the points your son or daughter wants to highlight.

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