Homework Helper: Writing Practice Part II

Welcome back to our homework helper blog on writing practice! In our first blog, we covered some of the basics for the littlest writers. Until about first and the beginning of second grade, the biggest concerns for writing are simply knowing how to physically do it.

Later elementary, middle, and high school students are all working on the same things — they’re just getting increasingly more challenging and building on the same foundations. These writing tips from our private school will help your child be prepared for all sorts of writing formats down the road. Find out how you can help your child’s writing grow at home, and contact RCS to learn more about enrollment for preschool, kindergarten, elementary, middle, and high school!

Why Is Writing Practice Important?

Writing and math have two things in common: People think they’re either good or bad at it, and they plan on using it or never using it for the rest of their lives. But with both math and writing, we use these subjects all the time, which is why it’s important to learn the foundations and to feel confident in some of the basics.

Writing, in particular, is something that your child will do all throughout their life. Essays for classes that impact their GPA, college applications, cover letters, work reports — the list goes on. Our private middle school encourages writing practice now so that your child can be well prepared and knowledgeable for their future encounters with writing.

Ways to Help Your Child at Home

Whether they come home with a big assignment or you’ve noticed they haven’t gotten as good of grades in their writing report cards or assessments, there are plenty of ways to help your kiddo practice their writing skills outside of school.

Look Over Prompts

Nearly all writing assignments — even those in the professional setting — have some type of prompt. One of the most important parts of writing boils down to understanding exactly a prompt is looking for.

If your child has a paper to write for homework, look over the prompt with them and help them dissect it. Have them rewrite the prompt in their own words, so that they understand what it’s asking for. This is trickier than it seems, and requires a good deal of practice. Identify verbs and important keywords in each prompt, and practice on multiple occasions. Here’s an example:

“In Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, the author talks a lot about storms. Write a three-paragraph essay that points out at least two examples of storms taking place, and explains what these storms symbolize.”

Important keywords from the prompt:

  • Three-paragraph essay
  • Two examples of evidence
  • Symbolize
  • Storms

By dissecting the prompt, your child (and you) will have a clearer idea of what to base their writing off of.

Understand Writing Structure

Most essays are looking for an introductory paragraph that includes a thesis statement, a few body paragraphs (usually three for elementary and middle school grades) that provide evidence to support the thesis, and a closing paragraph that brings it back to the original thesis.

Looking over samples of essays in this format is a great way to get an idea of what works and doesn’t. Usually, your child’s teacher will include a rubric so you can also get an idea of what the final product should look like — feel free to ask for one if you don’t have access. By knowing what a paper or essay should look like, you can help your child format something similar.

On that note, it should be added that learning how to write thesis statements, find evidence, and connect it back to your writing in a cohesive manner is pretty challenging. Don’t let one bad grade knock your child (or yourself) down — use it as a learning tool and grow from there.

Understand Writing Types

Essays are one of the more formal types of writing, but at our private elementary, middle, and high school, your child will gain experience with many different types of writing. Poetry, limericks, haikus, song lyrics, fictional stories, and reports are just a few examples they’ll encounter.

By exposing your child to many different types of writing, they’ll become a more well-rounded writer. Switch up the books you read together at a young age — try poetry (“Inside Out And Back Again” is a great one), nonfiction books, fantasy stories, and everything in between. When your child can provide context to the writing task at hand, they’ll have a starting place and will be more ready to dive in.

Talk About Different Writers

If your child plays basketball, they undoubtedly know and talk about Stephen Curry and James Harden. If your child plays guitar, they know all about some of the great musicians of classic rock. We look to others for inspiration and motivation, and the same can and should be done for authors.

Talk with your kids about writers that they enjoy — has there ever been an author they’ve continued to be drawn to, or a series that they love? If so, what have they liked about the writing? By revealing the man or woman behind the curtain, your child can get a sense for writers that they love and aspire to emulate.

Practice Typing

Handwritten essays are going to one day be a thing of the past. It’s important for your child to know how to write clearly and concisely by hand, but it’s just as important — if not more — to practice typing skills.

There are countless programs available that can work to improve your child’s typing. From games online to software, it’s a good idea to start your elementary schooler out strong so that their typing skills are developed by the time they get to our private middle school and high school.

Set Goals

Here’s the tricky thing about writing — no piece of writing will ever feel perfect. It will never feel done, and even if you’re proud of it now, chances are you’ll look back on it months and years later and find so many mistakes. You’ll wonder why you ever thought it was even good (and that’s when you become a writer!).

Setting goals for writing is essential for helping your child at home. Even if they get a great grade on a paper, there’s always something that can be improved. Take the time to set some intentional goals with your child, and reflect back on them consistently. Here are a few goal ideas for you both to consider:

  • Improving my handwriting or typing (writing neater or typing faster/more efficiently).
  • Using a new word I’ve researched for every paper.
  • Raising my grade from a C to a B on my next writing assignment.
  • Reading more from different writers, and trying out different writing voices.

Not only should your child set goals, but you all should celebrate when those goals are met! This is a great way to continue developing writing skills, and to help children feel motivated to continue growing as a writer.

Enroll Your Child With RCS

One of the ultimate best ways to help your child succeed in writing is by enrolling them with our private school in Loveland. We are the academic path your child needs to thrive and flourish in their future. See why parents and kids love RCS, and contact us to begin the enrollment process today.


Homework Helper: Writing Practice Part I

Writing is an interesting school subject. It’s one of the most subjective areas of academics — everyone has their own style, voice, and even their own handwriting. Being a good writer isn’t just something for the literary elite. Your child will write papers, essays, cover letters, and job applications at all turns in their life, so it’s important to hone in on the basics now.

At Resurrection Christian School, we prioritize all the subjects, but there are always things you can do to help your child out at home. It’s not only a great learning experience for them (and you), it’s a way to stay involved with your child’s academics at our private school, and a way to connect with them.

Take a look at these ways to work on writing practice with your child, and find more information on enrollment for preschool, kindergarten, elementary, middle, and high school throughout our site!

Early Stages: Preschool – First Grade

Writing is just starting at this point for your young one. You don’t need to worry about sentences or perfect spelling yet (you won’t need to worry about the latter writing element for quite some time). These are the years where it’s all about getting the foundation down.

Holding a Writing Utensil

For children at this age, writing can be very challenging. It requires fine motor skills that take time to develop. In general (but not always), boys take longer to develop their fine motor skills than girls — the reverse is true for gross motor skills, like throwing a ball.

At this age, your biggest priority should simply be helping them get used to holding a writing utensil and starting to use it. Drawing and coloring are great ways to practice (and pretty fun, at that!). Try different types of utensils with different sizes, such as thicker markers or pencils, to encourage your young one. They might feel like they have more control when there’s more to grip.

Another thing to note during this time? When your child is first holding something (usually as a toddler), you’ll find out pretty quickly whether they prefer their left or right hand. Give opportunity for them to practice both to see what feels right. Check out this article on ways to hold a pencil for more information!

Practice Tracing

Of course, you want your child to draw freehanded and explore with using writing utensils, especially when they’re young. However, our private school also recommends getting some practice in with tracing lines — this will make it easier to trace letters later on down the road.

By the time your child is getting ready for kindergarten, they should be able to write their first name and the first letter of their last name (capitalized). They should also be able to distinguish between uppercase and lowercase letters, even if they don’t know all their letters yet. In terms of writing, your child should be able to trace letters and write many letters independently.

If your young one isn’t there just yet, there’s no need to panic! You can practice by printing off sheets and resources for parents and teachers from the web, or ask your child’s teacher if they have extra materials for practicing at home.

Writing Words

By kindergarten and first grade, your child will be writing words and simple sentences. You can guide in this practice at home with a number of games:

 

  • Sight Word Match: Make a list of ten sight words (i.e. at, and, on, or, etc.), then have your child copy writing them down in a column on a piece of lined paper. In the other column or on another piece of paper, help them cut out and paste the same sight words that they find in magazines or newspapers. You can also tape or glue the words in a jumbled up order, then have your child draw lines to connect each word.

 

  • Chalk Hopscotch: Create a hopscotch outline, then have your child write words that make a sentence into different boxes. Have them hop in the order of the sentence, have them jump to sight words, or have them jump to words that start with a certain letter.
  • Copycat: This is especially good for kids who need to take their time and slow down on their writing, and need to focus on how they’re holding a writing utensil. You write various words, and then in different colors, have your young one try to copy (either by writing separately, tracing over, or both) the word as neatly and perfectly as possible.

 

 

Keep Reading

Reading and writing are completely intertwined. We can’t be great writers if we’re not great readers, and the reverse is true as well. By encouraging literacy as a whole in your household, you’ll be giving your kids a foundation for writing success.

Read every single day with your young ones, take frequent trips to the library, and talk about the writing that you’re reading. Are there sentences that rhyme? What words make you feel a certain way? If you closed your eyes and listened, could you still picture the story? Engage in a dialogue with reading that revolves around writing, and you’ll set your kids up for success.

Offer Encouragement

There are any number of ways that kids deal with and react to writing. Some might try to write everything perfectly, and get hung up on the spelling of words. Others might get frustrated with the struggle of holding a writing utensil and producing neat words and letters, and might want to give up.

Our private school knows that the best things you can do for your child’s writing practice are to be encouraging, patient, and focus on the big picture. Create a culture in which writing is a messy process, it’s not perfect, and that’s the point of it. Always applaud your child for going the extra mile and persevering through tough tasks.

In our next blog, our private school will cover some of the ways in which you can help your older children with their writing exercises and homework. Stay tuned, and contact Resurrection Christian School for any questions you might have on enrollment, academics, or more.