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Writing Skills in Adolescents

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Aug 31, 2022.

What do I need to know about writing skills in adolescents?

Writing skills are your child's ability to express thoughts and ideas in writing. Writing skills start when children are young but continue to develop through adolescence. Your child needs strong reading and writing skills as part of literacy. He or she may be good at reading but have trouble with writing.

Why are writing skills important?

Your child will need to write in every class he or she takes, including math and science. He or she may learn information more easily by writing about it. Writing also helps show that your child understands the information. Your child will need strong writing skills to apply for and succeed in college. Your child will need to be able to fill out a job application. He or she may have to write as part of his or her job duties.

How may my child develop writing skills?

In grades 4 through 12, your child may have specific language arts or English classes. Your child's other classes may expect that he or she has strong writing skills. Your child may write well in one school subject but not in another. The following are writing skills your child will develop in grades 4 through 12:

  • Prewriting includes activities designed to help your child plan what he or she will write. Examples include outlines, note cards, diagrams, pictures, and free writing. The activities will help your child make sure he or she has all the information needed to complete the work. Your child will make sure he or she understands the information and what he or she wants to write.
  • Process writing includes activities to help your child plan, revise, and edit his or her own work. Your child will learn to plan enough time to complete the work. He or she may be taught to break down an assignment and plan time to complete each part.
  • Sentence combination means your child will learn to write more complex sentences. He or she may start using new punctuation, such as semicolons. Sentence combination will help your child express more complex thoughts.
  • Summary writing helps your child write about the main points of a work he or she read. After your child summarizes the work, he or she can use the main points to develop his or her own ideas about the work. This will help your child write about the information.
  • Collaboration means working with another student or group of students to produce written work. The other students can tell your child where his or her writing is strong and where it needs to be improved. He or she can also offer feedback to the other students. This helps your child build his or her own writing skills by being able to see strengths and weaknesses in the writing of others.
  • Writing for content learning means your child writes specifically for each course he or she is taking. Your child may need to learn new vocabulary terms. He or she may also need to learn how to structure the work in a way that explains a process or makes an effective argument.

What can I do to help my child develop strong writing skills?

  • Offer constructive feedback, not criticism. Have your child talk about the ideas he or she wrote. Show your child places he or she can develop more. Your child may be able to talk about his or her ideas better than he or she can write about them. Help your child find places to add examples or support for his or her ideas. Give your child time to revise his or her work, and try not to rush him or her. This can lead to frustration and add to negative feelings he or she may have about writing.
  • Encourage your child to read aloud to you. Reading and writing are skills that work together. Your child can build writing skills by building his or her reading skills. Encourage your child to read every day. Have your child read his or her own written work aloud to you. It may help to have your child talk about other work he or she wrote that is similar to the current work. Ask your child about his or her written work a few days after he or she completes it. If your child can remember the main ideas of the work, this will show he or she understood the information and can recall it. He or she may need to recall the information for a test or for another written work. He or she can also apply the information to other classes.
  • Help your child build and practice vocabulary. Encourage your child to read more complex material over time. Ask your child to talk with you about what he or she reads. This helps build vocabulary and comprehension skills that your child can bring to his or her writing.
  • Make sure your child is prepared to do homework. Make sure your child understands the meaning of all terms needed for the assignment before he or she begins. It might help for your child to write for small periods of time. Your child may have trouble concentrating for long periods, or he or she may feel frustrated at having to finish all of the work at one time. He or she may be able to break the assignment into small parts and focus on one part at a time.
  • Ask if your child's school has support resources. Your child may have trouble with writing and need extra help even if he or she does not have a learning disability. Your child's school may offer support programs or other resources. Your child may be able to work with a tutor or learning specialist. The tutor or specialist can help your child build on skills he or she has or develop new ones. They will work with your child at his or her own pace. This can help your child focus on a writing assignment or prepare for an exam with less pressure.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your child's care. Learn about your child's health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your child's healthcare providers to decide what care you want for your child. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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