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Ask the Experts

How Do I Help My Child With Writing?

By Dr. Ruth Jacoby, Educational Consultant

Question:

Please help me to come up with ways to help my daughter with writing. She reads at the fifth-grade level, but she struggles with writing. She can tell stories verbally, but when it comes to putting it on paper, she has problems. How can I help her to improve her writing skills?

Answer:

There are two kinds of writing. One tells a story and has a beginning, middle and end. The other gives information that has an introduction, body and a conclusion. The key to success for either type of writing is to have a plan that will tell about the topic. A great planner treasures writing out the sketch first by starting with a topic sentence or main thought. Next, he has to write or outline the reason(s) or fact(s) followed by examples as explanations. Finally, he writes the conclusion, which usually restates the topic sentence and becomes the ending paragraph or thought.

Here is a guide for your child to follow for writing a winning story or paragraph.

Writing Checklist for Success

  • Write a topic sentence
  • Sketch out ideas-reasons
  • Give details and examples
  • Draft
  • Reread and make corrections
  • Edit: Check for transitional words, capital letters, punctuation, spelling
  • Revise: Stayed on topic and have a concluding statement
  • Proofread
  • Final copy

Tip: The more your child reads, the better her writing skills will be. The more a child writes, the better she will read.

Activities That Build Writing Skills

  • Have your child keep a diary.
  • When you go on a trip, have her keep a map, and design and write a brochure.
  • Have her write or email her relatives.
  • Suggest she write and illustrate a story herself.

Dr. Ruth Jacoby has been involved in education for more than 30 years as an educator, principal and currently as an educational consultant in Florida. She is the co-author of the School Talk! Success Series including Parent Talk!: The Art of Effective Communication With the School and Your Child, Homework Talk!: The Art of Effective Communication About Your Child's Homework and Test Talk!: Understanding the Stakes and Helping Your Children Do Their Best.

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.

Comments from GreatSchools.org readers

01/25/2010:
"To give the best advice as to how to help with writing problems, you have to know where the process breaks down. You say only 'when it comes to putting it down on paper, it breaks down.' How does it break down? She writes one sentence and no more? A paragraph then stops? Or she doesn't get a sentence even written down? How is her handwriting otherwise? How's her spelling? For a start, I'd ask those questions of any parent who said their verbal child who could tell a story well has problems putting it on paper. And my suggestions would vary depending on your answers because there aren't any pat answers to writing issues in children."
04/29/2009:
"you guys are great help thanks...."
11/7/2007:
"Thank you so much for the information. I too have a son that struggles with writing and hates reading, however we have implemented the nightly task of helping Mommy to Relax by reading to her. Both my daugther and son love it and it has been a way to get the reading out of the way without a struggle. Thannks again."
06/5/2007:
"this article has been very helpful, I have a 9 year old daughter that struggles in writing and reading. I have to put her on track."
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