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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
If you’ve ever felt confused looking at your child’s homework, struggled to explain a topic that seems easy to know but hard to teach, and dealt with the frustration of homework help, you are not alone. In fact, you’re probably part of the majority!
Helping kids with homework is a challenging task, much more so than it may seem. But more than anything, it’s both commendable and loving that you want to help. Our private school is starting up a blog series called “Homework Helper” to assist families in helping their kids at home. Today’s topic: Multiplication!
Learn more from Resurrection Christian School, and contact us to schedule a tour with our campus!
Mastering multiplication might seem like memorizing flashcards, but it goes much deeper than that. If your child doesn’t have a solid understanding of addition, grouping, and counting, they’ll struggle with later multiplication concepts and applications. Having a good mathematical base is the only way your child will truly understand the facts and the times table. Here are some things your child should know before diving into multiplication (and if they’re not there yet, our private school has included things you can try for added practice):
- Grouping: Kids should be able to group objects into equal sets, and should recognize that if they’re trying to count out 20 blocks, it’s faster to grab several at a time.
- Extended practice: Have your child count out objects and ask them if there’s a faster way to do it, then model what you mean (“Is there a faster way to count out 30 pennies?”).
- Group counting: Similarly, your child should be able to count off by numbers: twos, fives, and tens are a good starting point, then go into threes, nines, fours, sixes, sevens, and eights (that exact order might be most beneficial).
- Extended practice: Continue practicing to count everywhere and anywhere — road trips, items at the grocery store, money, etc.
- Number order: Your child should confidently know what number comes before and after a number — ideally up to 1,000.
- Extended practice: Make number line charts and turn it into a guessing game (“I’m thinking of a number that comes after 42 but before 63.”).
- Addition: Your child’s adding skills should be basically flawless — even if it’s not perfect, they have mastered the concept.
- Extended practice: There are countless coloring sheets that are addition-focused, as a fun activity to hone in on the basics. Continuing to ask real life scenarios (“I have four apples and eight grapes. How many pieces of fruit do I have?”) are also beneficial.
When your child has mastered the above concepts, transferring their knowledge to multiplication won’t be as hard as you might think. You can reinforce some of the skills they’re learning in the classroom (feel free to ask their teacher for tips!), but here are some other strategies to try:
- Area Method: Draw a rectangle, divide it into the problem at hand to figure out how many squares are present. For example, 3 x 5 would look like a rectangle with three squares drawn on one side and five squares on the adjacent side (like a grid).
- Group Method: Draw (or use connecting blocks — Legos work too) groups of numbers to find the total. For the same 3 x 5 example, connect five blocks together, three times, or draw five dots three times. This is a bit more time-intensive, but it might help your child get started with mastering the basics.
- Money: We multiply with money all the time and don’t even realize it! Money is great for mastering the fives and tens tables — five pennies equal a nickel, ten equal a dime, and so forth. Have your child practice converting money (they might be extra motivated if they get to keep a penny or two, too!).
At some point, memorizing multiplication facts will make their lives so much easier. But rote memorization does not leave much room for expanding in mathematical knowledge and insight. Understanding fractions, division, area, and perimeter are all things that require a sound foundation. If your child is struggling with multiplication homework, try out these methods before jumping into flashcards and memorizing their times tables.
Once they’ve shown they understand how multiplication works, then you can move into memorizing facts. Practicing flashcards, having a times table chart that they get to color in and track every time they master one of their times tables are all things that can help their multiplication progress.
How do I know if they’re ready?
If your child is automatically knowing how to set up an array, sees a multiplication problem and instantly starts drawing out the problem, they most likely know how multiplication works, and are ready for memorizing facts.
But if you’re not sure they’re fully understanding this math concept, you can — first and foremost — always get advice from their teacher or check in with them. There are also tons of online games and videos that you can help your child with.
At Resurrection Christian School, we are committed to helping all children succeed, and we know that so much of a child’s success comes from home. It can be frustrating when you don’t know how to help, but hopefully, these tips have provided you with some further insight. If you have further questions, never hesitate to reach out to our private school! In the meantime, stay tuned for our next Homework Helper blog, and schedule a tour with our preschool, elementary school, middle, and high school today!