How to Help Your Child Learn Writing Skills

Child's hand writing in notebook

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Many kids just aren't that into writing, and it shows in their school work through the years. You may save your child's cute early writings. But with the exception of homework assignments, writing isn't a big part of our kids' everyday life at home. What can parents do to help their child develop good writing skills during the elementary years?

Start Writing Early

Advancements in educational research shows that reading and writing development are intertwined in early learning. The physical act of writing letters and early words enhances the child's ability to read. The complementary relationship between reading and writing continues long after these early efforts. Parents enhance their child's skills dramatically by encouraging the writing habit in childhood.

Follow the lead of early childhood educators by allowing phonetic writing rather than worrying about proper spelling in preschool and kindergarten.

Focus on the Building Blocks of Good Writing

A rich language environment is a foundation for good writing. Games and activities that build vocabulary can help increase the range of words your child will know how to write. Word games are classic and fun for families. Now, you can find fun word games online or on mobile apps.

Checking your child's homework for spelling and punctuation errors will reinforce the skills your child is learning at school. When they have a report to write at home, help them take the time to write a first draft that you can check. Then, mark the spelling, capitalization, and punctuation errors for them to correct.

Most middle elementary children are able to use a word processing program to write reports. Teach your child to use the spellchecker.

Provide Tools and Opportunities for Writing

Mechanical pencils, gel pens, and plenty of paper, both lined for your child's grade level and unlined, should be available for spontaneous writing play and projects. Brightly colored note cards and stationery make writing letters and notes to friends and relatives a fun—and regular—writing habit. Let your child write the shopping list before a trip to the store. Encourage journal keeping for special times such as a family trip. If your child has a creative streak, gifts of writing activity books will help to encourage that talent.

Learn Easy Strategies for Elementary Writing

Susan Wise Bauer and Jessie Wise, co-authors of The Well-Trained Mind, discuss a step-by-step guide to the writing process for teaching elementary students at home. This includes practicing oral composition by encouraging your child to talk about what it is they are going to write. Children can also learn narration or dictation practice by copying sentences from books or from story dictation onto paper. This teaches sentence and paragraph structure.

Don't be discouraged by your elementary child's lack of writing skills, since every child develops at their own pace. As Julie Bogart, homeschool educator and founder of the online writing program, Brave Writer, states on her blog, "It is much more effective to look at how writers grow naturally than to focus on scope and sequence, grade level, ages, or the types of writing that ought to be done in some “established sequence.”"

Your child will eventually develop good writing skills over the years with plenty of practice. Help them build their scope of language by encouraging them to talk about everything they're interested in—and then have them write it down. Remember, there's no need to be critical of their creative writing efforts, either. Make the process fun for them and they will foster a love for writing from an early age.

7 Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  3. James KH, Engelhardt L. The effects of handwriting experience on functional brain development in pre-literate children. Trends Neurosci Educ. 2012;1(1):32-42. doi:10.1016/j.tine.2012.08.001

  4. Ouellette G, Sénéchal M. Invented spelling in kindergarten as a predictor of reading and spelling in Grade 1: A new pathway to literacy, or just the same road, less known?Dev Psychol. 2017;53(1):77-88. doi:10.1037/dev0000179

  5. Rodriguez J. Scholastic. How Journaling Benefits Your Child. July 20, 2017.

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  7. Brave Writer. Natural Stages of Growth in Writing.

By Kimberly L. Keith, M.Ed, LPC
Kimberly L. Keith, M.Ed., LPC, is a counselor, parent educator, and advocate for children and families in the court and community.