How to help kids to write a personal profile

Whether for a school assignment or another purpose, writing a personal profile can seem overwhelming to some children. The biggest stumbling block for most of them is overcoming the idea that they have nothing to put in the profile.

By helping children do a little brainstorming for the job, assisting them with getting organised and taking them through the process step-by-step, you'll be able to turn the process into an enjoyable and well-done project.

Brainstorm with the child, in no particular order, anything he or she can think of that might go into the personal profile. Jot down these ideas on paper, leaving space above and below each one. Include basics such as the following: birthday, names of parents, siblings and other relatives important to the child, leisure activities, things he or she finds interesting, places where he or she has lived or travelled, favourites (foods, TV, for example), pets and anything else he or she can come up with. Encourage the child by explaining that this process is the most important step.

Organise the information by giving the child three sheets of paper labelled "History," "Interests and Activities" and "Preferences." Give the child some scissors and ask him to cut apart the paper on which the brainstorming ideas are written, and use a glue stick to place each statement on the appropriate sheet. For example, "Went to the Grand Canyon" would go on the history page and "ride my bike" would be placed on the activities page. Once the pasting is done, ask the child to look over the results and think about what important items he or she might have omitted, particularly on the preferences page.

Work on writing the history page first; this section will serve as the introduction to the personal profile. Ask the child to number the items on the history brainstorming sheet in chronological order, and then begin the writing. Typically, a child might include the date and place of his or her birth, any moves he or she has made or travels experienced, the births of his or her siblings, the year he or she started school and the names of any schools he or she has attended and any other basic life events.

Ask the child to prioritise the items on the interests and activities page in order of how much time and interest he or she invests on each. Show the child how to write a simple topic sentence, such as "I have a lot of different interests," before proceeding to tell the child about each. Explain to the child that each item needs its own sentence and that each sentence needs some description. Provide an example: "I ride my bike" will not tell the reader as much as "I ride my bike every day after school for at least an hour."

For the concluding paragraph, use the information on the preferences sheet. If the child has not done so before now, you might suggest adding some abstract values the child thinks are important. These might include the part family or spirituality plays in his or her life. Ask the child to prioritise the items that will be included in this paragraph by order of importance, starting, for example, with preferences about such items as television and ending with ideas of that have more significance in their lives.