By Dr. Raymond J. Huntington
If your child is not the strongest writer, you already know that school can be a challenge. Writing is a part of many classes and expected of all students — and teacher expectations only become higher with every grade. If your child needs convincing that writing is important, here are a few places they will use writing in their lives:
AT COLLEGE – There’s no getting around it: there are many writing assignments in college. Professors in almost every subject expect students to know how to articulate their ideas and arguments in writing. Even if your student plans to major in a field they consider lighter on the writing (like math or science), he or she will still be expected to write. There are many general education courses involving writing, and even in their major courses, students need to be skilled at expressing themselves.
IN THEIR CAREERS – Many careers require writing skills. From writing reports and emails to explaining complex processes and detailed information, jobs in business, marketing, accounting, science, sales and many other areas require people to communicate clearly and be convincing.
IN EVERYDAY COMMUNICATION – Let’s face it: We live in a digital world where people email and send text messages all day, every day. Writing is it the core of strong communication, and it is essential that your child builds the skills to communicate effectively and efficiently. Conversely, poor communicators stand out. Don’t let children blow off writing assignments or think it’s OK to have mediocre writing skills. It could hurt them later on in college and whatever job they choose if they are unable to write well.
How can you help your child become a stronger writer? Here are a few tips:
- Foster the literary habit: For many students, reading regularly is one of the best ways to get exposed to high-quality writing. For as long as you can, encourage your child to read often and widely. Books, magazines and blogs are all fair game. The key is to get your child reading often and on his or her own.
- Nudge your younger child to write for fun: Encourage him or her to write letters to grandparents, keep a journal, make up stories and more. Freeform writing helps students cultivate their creativity and explore their minds. Remember: Keep it fun. You don’t have to assign essays for your child to benefit.
- Teach the art of editing: Many students crank out writing assignments and shortchange the revision process. As children start doing more writing assignments, remind them of the importance of reading what they write after they write it. At a minimum, encourage your child to set aside a draft of their work for at least a couple of hours when possible and review it to check for flow, readability and errors, as well as whether it answers the prompt and achieves its goal (e.g., a persuasive essay or an argument). Writing is a process that involves the writing itself, editing and improving.
- Remind your child that good writing is not just about the writing. It’s about following directions to ensure your child does what he or she is supposed to do (e.g., answers a question or makes an argument). It’s about brainstorming thoroughly. It’s about planning out a schedule in which your child has time to write multiple drafts, review his or her work, edit and proofread and get feedback from a teacher if needed.
Writing is one of the most essential skills your child will build in school. If your child struggles with it, you might consider professional tutoring to help.
The Huntington Learning Center Gulfport is located at 8950 Lorraine Road, Unit E, Gulfport. Contact the center at (228) 206-2353.