should you help your child with
writing if you want your child to:
how important writing will be to
your child's life. It will be
important from first-grade through
college and throughout adulthood.
Most of us make lists, jot down
reminders, and write notes and
instructions at least
and white-collar workers write
letters, briefing papers, sales
reports, articles, research
reports, proposals, and the
like. Most workers do "some"
writing on the job.
Writing helps to provoke
thoughts and to organize them
logically and concisely.
Most of us write thank-you notes
and letters to friends at least
now and then.
"many schools are unable to give
children sufficient instruction in
writing." There are various reasons:
teachers aren't trained to teach
writing skills, writing classes may
be too large, it's often difficult
to measure writing skills, etc.
It can be helpful to express
feelings in writing that cannot
be expressed so easily by
after study shows that students'
writing lacks clarity, coherence,
and organization. Only a few
students can write persuasive
essays or competent business
letters. As many as one out of
four have serious writing
difficulties. And students say
they like writing less and less as
they go through school.
why the Office of Educational
Research and Improvement (OERI)
suggests that you help your child
with writing. OERI believes you, a
parent, can make a big difference.
You can use helping strategies
that are simple and fun. You can
use them to help your child learn
to write well--and to enjoy doing
it! This leaflet tells you how.
Things to Know
Writing is more than
putting words on paper.
final stage in the complex process
of communicating that begins with
"thinking." Writing is an
especially important stage in
communication, the intent being to
leave no room for doubt. Has any
country ratified a verbal treaty?
the first means of communication
for your child is through drawing.
Do encourage the child to draw and
to discuss his/her drawings. Ask
questions: What is the boy doing?
Does the house look like ours? Can
you tell a story about this
children's basic speech patterns
are formed by the time they enter
school. By that time children
speak clearly, recognize most
letters of the alphabet, and may
try to write. Show an interest in,
and ask questions about, the
things your child says, draws, and
may try to write.
thinking. Sometimes the child
needs to have his/her memory
refreshed about a past event in
order in order to write about
time. Children may have `stories
in their heads' but need time to
think them through and write
them down. School class periods
are often not long enough.
Reading can stimulate a child to
write about his/her own family
or school life. If your child
reads good books, (s)he will be
a better writer.
Meaningful Task. A child needs
meaningful, not artificial
writing tasks. You'll find
suggestions for such tasks in
the section, "Things To Do."
All the time in the world won't
help if there is nothing to
write, nothing to say. Some of
the reasons for writing include:
sending messages, keeping
records, expressing feelings, or
And more practice.
Pointers for Parents
Students need experience in
revising their work-- i.e,
seeing what they can do to make
it clearer, more descriptive,
more concise, etc.
helping your child to learn to
write well, remember that your
goal is to make writing easier and
a place. It's important for
a child to have a good place to
write--a desk or table with a
smooth, flat surface and good
the materials. Provide
plenty of paper--lined and
unlined--and things to write with,
including pencils, pens, and
time. Help your child spend
time thinking about a writing
project or exercise. Good writers
do a great deal of thinking. Your
child may dawdle, sharpen a
pencil, get papers ready, or look
up the spelling of a word. Be
patient--your child may be
Do respond to the ideas your
child expresses verbally or in
writing. Make it clear that you
are interested in the true
function of writing which is to
convey ideas. This means focusing
on "what" the child has written,
not "how" it was written. It's
usually wise to ignore minor
errors, particularly at the stage
when your child is just getting
you write it! Don't write a
paper for your child that will be
turned in as his/her work. Never
rewrite a child's work. Meeting a
writing deadline, taking
responsibility for the finished
product, and feeling ownership of
it are important parts of writing
Take a positive approach and say
something good about your child's
writing. Is it accurate?
Interesting? Does it say
Things to Do
it real. Your child needs to
do real writing. It's more
important for the child to write a
letter to a relative than it is to
write a one-line note on a
greeting card. Encourage the child
to write to relatives and friends.
Perhaps your child would enjoy
corresponding with a pen pal.
note-taking. Encourage your
child to take notes on trips or
outings and to describe what (s)he
saw. This could include a
description of nature walks, a
boat ride, a car trip, or other
events that lend themselves to
Talk with your child as much as
possible about his/her impressions
and encourage the child to
describe people and events to you.
If the child's description is
especially accurate and colorful,
keeping a journal. This is
excellent writing practice as well
as a good outlet for venting
feelings. Encourage your child to
write about things that happen at
home and school, about people
(s)he likes or dislikes and why,
things to remember or things the
child wants to do. Especially
encourage your child to write
about personal feelings--pleasures
as well as disappointments. If the
child wants to share the journal
with you, read the entries and
discuss them--especially the
child's ideas and perceptions.
together. Have your child
help you with letters, even such
routine ones as ordering items
from an advertisment or writing to
a business firm. This helps the
child to see firsthand that
writing is important to adults and
games. There are numerous
games and puzzles that help a
child to increase vocabulary and
make the child more fluent in
speaking and writing. Remember,
building a vocabulary builds
confidence. Try crossword puzzles,
word games, anagrams and
cryptograms de- signed especially
for children. Flash cards are
good, too, and they're easy to
make at home.
making lists. Most children
like to make lists just as they
like to count. Encourage this.
Making lists is good practice and
helps a child to become more
organized. Boys and girls might
make lists of their records,
tapes, baseball cards, dolls,
furniture in a room, etc. They
could include items they want.
It's also good practice to make
lists of things to do, schoolwork,
dates for tests, social events,
and other reminders.
copying. If a child likes a
particular song, suggest learning
the words by writing them
down--replaying the song on your
stereo/tape player or jotting down
the words whenever the song is
played on a radio program. Also
encourage copying favorite poems
or quotations from books and
strategies for helping children
learn to write well are helping
youngsters throughout the country.
We hope they will help your child.