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This post is written in partnership with Sylvan Learning.


Do you remember a story that changed how you thought about writing?   That one book that really hit you or made you think?   How old were you?  Where were you when you read it?

help child with writing

When I was young, my mom read Little Women to me and it changed how I looked at books.  I loved everything about it, and I loved that my mom was reading it to me.  Every night, she would read a little more of that book.  I can remember the way that my room was set up at the time.  I remember the lamp that I had beside my bed – three touches to make it bright… one more to turn it off.   I remember the bookmark that we used in that book: white with a little blue bow on top.

We have the chance to do this for our children… to introduce them to a book that will change them, the book that will make them WANT to read and write.

What if she had only read 25% of that book? Did you know that most kids are lacking in writing? What if your favorite author hadn’t written that book?

A close up of a text with a green background.

I did a little digging to see what others were finding out about kids writing:

According to the National Assessment of Educational Progress,  Twenty-four percent of students at both grades 8 and 12 performed at the Proficient level in writing in 2011. The NAEP Proficient level represents solid academic performance for each grade assessed. Students performing at this level have clearly demonstrated the ability to accomplish the communicative purpose of their writing.”

That means that 75% did not perform at the proficient level.  

They go onto say that “Fifty-four percent of eighth-graders and 52 percent of twelfth-graders performed at the Basic level in writing in 2011. The Basic level denotes partial mastery of the prerequisite knowledge and skills that are fundamental for proficient work at each grade.”

So what can be done about it?

Here are ten ways to help strengthen your kids’ writing skills: 

help child with writing

  • Get Help.

Sometimes, we need to find help for our children.  Find a learning center that can help your child.  Sylvan Learning Center offers a variety of writing programs, so kids can get the exact support they need to become comfortable with writing and communicate clearly. These programs focus on grammar and mechanics, structure and process and writing more in-depth thoughtful analysis, leaving kids better prepared for schoolwork, standardized tests, college application essays and holding a job.

  • Focus on all types of writing. 

When you work with your children or take them to a learning center, focus on all types of writing.  For example, Sylvan Learning’s writing programs focus on a variety of writing styles including descriptive, fictional narrative, nonfiction, informative, and persuasive.   

  • Practice. 

Have your child write often. Write simple stories, write thank you notes, write letters to grandparents. Don’t let that moan or groan that they make discourage you from asking them to write.  It’s important.

  • Have fun. 

Make writing fun. Find an extracurricular activity that remembers that writing is fun. When I was a new teacher, I worked at a learning center in my town and tried to make it fun for my students- I wanted them to WANT to write Sylvan Learning  has the same idea- make it fun, and the kids will want to do it.

  • Build up their vocabulary 

Don’t be afraid to use new words at home – the more words that your child is exposed to, the better. Read new books, go new places, talk about new things.

  • Help them work through their idea.

Sometimes it can be tricky for a child to get their idea onto paper. Teach them how to make a simple mind map. Also, when they ask for help (how to spell a word), help them.  Remember to be a helper, not a critic.

  • Give them a place to write. 

Give them a place that is their spot to write: a desk in their room that has pencils, notebooks, pens, colored pencils, etc… Giving them the tools is a great way to encourage your child to use them.

  • Go over their schoolwork with them.

Praise their work.  You will see many mistakes, I’m sure, but try to focus on praising their writing.  Look for the “story”, not the punctuation and grammar. Then, once you’ve praised the writing, you can offer support.

  • Write and read to your child. 

Keep a journal and write to your child daily.  Let your child read your writing.  Reading is just as important.  Your child is never too old to have you read to them.  Pick a book and read some of it every day to your child.

  • Build confidence in writing.

Having confidence is key to writing. Many people lack confidence when it comes to writing, so they lack the drive to try.  Help to build that confidence in your child or find someone who can. Sylvan Learning’s writing tutors not only help to improve your child’s writing skills, but they work on building confidence and removing the stress that comes with writing assignments.  When your child is confident, he will be better prepared for schoolwork, standardized tests, college application essays and even holding a job.

Two kids jumping on a mattress.

Hi there!

I’m Becky, a former elementary school teacher turned certified child development therapist and blogger. I work at home with my husband and together we are raising (and partially homeschooling) our four children in the Carolinas. I love diet coke, ice cream, and spending time with my family.

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