Parents are frequently in a position to help their offspring with writing
assignments. Teachers do not expect parents to correct all aspects of writing at
home. But there are ways parents can help. Rather than go over the writing
word-by-word, adults can ask the budding writers to review a list of prompts so
that the writers can review their work independently. (The younger the child,
the more guidance may be necessary.)
Following is a list that you can use at home:
1. I started each sentence with a capital letter.
2. I put a space between the words.
3. I started new paragraphs where appropriate.
4. I indented for new paragraphs.
5. I used correct punctuation.
6. I used complete sentences.
7. I used my best spelling.
8. I used descriptive and interesting words (details).
9. I capitalized the important words.
10. In the case that I have written a story:
a. There is a beginning, a middle, and an end.
b. I told the story in a logical order.
c. If there is a problem in the story, I explained
in a way that the problem
The ability to do this independently will mean that the writers have a
good understanding of the terminology involved. Teachers have probably explained
these items, but one-on-one instruction at home may have more of an impact.
Your child will need to know the meanings of: sentence, capital letter,
lower case letter, word, paragraph, punctuation, period, comma, quotation marks,
question mark, exclamation point, colon, semi-colon, adjective, noun, adverb,
subject, preticate, preposition, prepositional phrase, object of the
If you have a tape recorder, you may use it to good effect by having your
child read his writing into it and then playing it back. One of the goals is to
have him reflect on the meaning and impact of his own work. Some young people
can do this effectively by rereading. But if your child learns better through
hearing than visually, listening on a tape recorder can help him to be sure that
he has made sense in what he has written.
This column has been incorporated and expanded in Teach Your Children
Well: A Teacherís Advice for Parents.