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Writing Skills in Adolescents


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

How may my child develop writing skills?

In grades 4 through 12, your child may have specific language arts or English classes. His other classes may expect that he 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 will write. Examples include outlines, note cards, diagrams, pictures, and free writing. The activities will help your child make sure he has all the information he needs to complete the work. He will make sure he understands the information and what he wants to write.
  • Process writing includes activities to help him plan, revise, and edit his own work. He will learn to plan enough time to complete the work. He 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 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 read. After he summarizes the work, he can use the main points to develop his own ideas about the work. This will help him 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 writing is strong and where it needs to be improved. He can also offer feedback to the other students. This helps him build his 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 is taking. He may need to learn new vocabulary terms. He 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 him talk about the ideas he wrote. Show him places he can develop more. He may be able to talk about his ideas better than he can write about them. Help him find places to add examples or support for his ideas. Give him time to revise his work, and try not to rush him. This can lead to frustration and add to negative feelings he 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 reading skills. Encourage him to read every day. Have him read his own written work aloud to you. It may help to have him talk about other work he wrote that is similar to the current work. Ask him about his written work a few days after he completes it. If he can remember the main ideas of the work, this will show he understood the information and can recall it. He may need to recall the information for a test or for another written work. He 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 him to talk with you about what he reads. This helps build vocabulary and comprehension skills that he can bring to his 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 begins. It might help for him to write for small periods of time. He may have trouble concentrating for long periods, or he may feel frustrated at having to finish all of the work at one time. He 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 does not have a learning disability. His school may offer support programs or other resources. He may be able to work with a tutor or learning specialist. The tutor or specialist can help him build on skills he has or develop new ones. They will work with him at his own pace. This can help him 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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