How to Help T(w)eens Write Their First Research Paper

We have learned over the years that parents often feel they know how to help teens write their first research paper. Here’s a little encouragement.

How to Help Teens Write Their First Research Paper. It is important to write research papers in high school (and prepare for them in middle school). Here are some non-intimidating tips. #HomeschoolHighSchool #HomeschoolMiddleSchool #ResearchPaperReadiness #ResearchPaperWriting #ResearchPaperWritingHelp

How to Help Teens Write Their First Research Paper

Middle schoolers and early high schoolers often feel intimidated by the thought of writing research papers. (Their parents do, too, sometimes!)

Anyone who has more than one kid has discovered that they are all different:

  • Their personalities
  • Their academic strengths and weaknesses
  • Their needs and interests

One thing I have noticed that is the SAME in most tweens and teens: They need some handholding when they begin learning to write research papers. So how do you start that handholding and writing process?

One way is to start by a parent-led report-style research paper. (Remember the papers you used to write- if you went to traditional school in 5th or 6th grade? Those were reports: You were simply presenting information. You were not digesting the information. You were not worried about format or style.)

7Sisters can help with that report-style research paper, and we can do it for free! Simply download this parent-directed, step-by-step guide to writing a very basic, report-style research paper. It is a simple and fairly quick process that will remove some of the intimidation factor for both you and your homeschoolers!

research paper help for reluctant writers

Their next research paper should be a real research paper…but keep up the hand holding!

The next research-writing project should go beyond the simple report. Homeschoolers should be learning some serious research-paper basic concepts like:

  • What is plagiarism?
  • How do you choose a topic for a research paper?
  • How do you actually do the research?
  • How do you organize your research?
  • How do you create citations?

With this next-step research paper, they do not need to decide on an official style or format for their research paper. They can do that next year.

In the meantime, the concepts listed above are big concepts. Working through the process with a parent will be important.

However, in this real research paper, there will be work that many students will be able to do on their own. To understand what the help/support/let-go process can look like, it is good to have a guide. That’s why we created the writing guide: Research Writing Readiness.

Research Writing Readiness

This guide came about because our local homeschool parents kept asking 7Sister, Allison, to help young people write their very first research paper. (You may have noticed that Allison created our popular MLA Research Paper Writing Guide. Homeschooling parents told her they wanted a prequel!)

After teaching our local beginners, Allison (along with 7Sister Marilyn, who constructed 7Sisters’ Middle School Fairy Tale Writing Guide) created a new writing guide to help homeschooling parents and their homeschoolers to create that very first research paper. It is a homeschooler/parent, do-it-together guide: Research Writing Readiness: Foundational Skills for Successful Research Papers.

Let me explain how to help teens to write their first research paper using 7Sisters Research Writing Readiness downloadable eworkbook.

Research Writing Readiness: Foundational Skills for Successful Research Papers is a step -by-step guide. It provides the tools you need to introduce the research-paper writing process in 20 short lessons. The lessons can be done one per day over 20 school days or (for a more relaxed process) the lessons can be spread out to 1 or 2 steps per week.

Research Writing Readiness helps a student work with a parent on a first research paper.

This easy-to-use guide provides the tools you need to introduce the research-paper writing process. That way, when they are in high school, they will be prepared to write their research papers.

The guide is intended for use:

  • in homeschool middle school (7th grade or 8th grade for many students)
  • homeschool high schoolers who lack experience or
  • homeschool high schoolers who struggle with research writing

This 7Sisters guide does not teach a particular style of research paper (i.e., MLA, APA, Chicago). Instead, it provides:

  • Instruction in basic research writing skills needed for any style
    • Step by step instructions for student from topic choice to final draft
  • Practice assignments that will help them create a first research paper
  • Development in skills of
    • paraphrasing
    • note taking
    • outlining
    • citing sources
  • Additional links and resources for parents
    • Including: How-to instructions for the parent/teacher
    • Sample grading rubric

Download Research Writing Readiness for your homeschoolers and help them develop powerful research paper writing skills that they need in high school (and in college)!

Work together for a less-intimidating first research paper. 7Sisters Research Writing Readiness is a learn-together research paper writing guide for late middle school or early high school.

Planning the order of your homeschoolers’ research paper writing? Here’s a post with a suggested order for these papers (although we all know that there’s not ONE right way to homeschool).

For more encouragement for helping your teens with their research paper writing check out these episodes of The Homeschool Highschool Podcast:

As you look ahead at Language Arts for homeschooling high school, you may get some encouragement on this how-to post from our friend, Betsy at BJ’s Homeschool.

Click here to view an excerpt from Research Writing Readiness: Foundational Skills for Successful Research Papers.

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Vicki Tillman

Blogger, curriculum developer at, counselor, life and career coach, SYMBIS guide, speaker, prayer person. 20+year veteran homeschool mom.

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