My Child Needs Help With Writing

By Allison Gardenswartz, Consulting Educator


My daughter has a hard time getting her ideas down on paper. She can tell me the story, but what ends up on paper is missing a lot of information. When I have her read it back and ask about the details she says "Oh yeah, I forgot." How do I slow her down? Her teacher is always telling her to check her work. It seems as though there's a lot of competition to finish first.


When working on writing, I recommend taking a five-step approach.

  • First choose the topic to write about.
  • Second, spend some time on a pre-write. This is the time where your daughter is to lay out all of the details of what she is planning to say. Lots of students like to use graphic organizers, or circle diagrams, for this step. You can help her with this step by discussing what she wants to write about as she is jotting her ideas in list or simple form. Taking the time to pre-write will enable her to put those ideas and thoughts on paper without having to formulate correct sentences. Then, when she actually goes to execute the writing assignment the task will seem easier.
  • Step three would be to write the paragraph, using her pre-write.
  • Step four is to proof her work.
  • Step five, is to rewrite the final copy.

Taking time to pre-think the parts that she wants to include in her writing will help her not to "forget" when she is actually completing the essay. By taking time to jot down ideas before actually writing the paragraph, she will then be able to focus more on the writing portion when writing the paragraph and likely make fewer errors. Often, when students feel the pride of good grades on an assignment well done, they become less interested in finishing first.

It is worth mentioning to the teacher that your daughter is concerned about the order in which she finishes her work in relation to other students and asking how the classroom is structured: is there a reward for finishing first or are students allowed "free time" if they are done early?

It is important as a parent to reinforce that quality of work is the priority and it is less important how much or how quickly she writes.

Allison Gardenswartz is the founder of a San Diego tutoring center specializing in gifted and remedial learning and test preparation studies. An educator for over 15 years, Allison is an expert in identifying and enhancing the learning abilities of school-age children. Allison now fully devotes her time to parent education, consulting and college counseling. Allison has a teaching credential and has taught for several years in various public school systems. She has three children: Jacob, 11, Sofia, 7, and newly adopted Ryan, who is 3.

Advice from our experts is not a substitute for professional diagnosis or treatment from a health-care provider or learning expert familiar with your unique situation. We recommend consulting a qualified professional if you have concerns about your child's condition.