Helping your 5th-8th grader with writing
The middle school years—typically 5th-8th grade—are the time to reinforce and build on previously-learned writing concepts. Motivated or advanced children will be able to take their current writing skills to a new level, while reluctant or resistant children, or those who lack fundamental writing skills, may need to go back to basics.
Use these middle-school years to make sure the foundation is strong. This is the time to work on:
- Writing complete and more complex sentences.
- Writing a well-developed paragraph.
- Improving grammar, punctuation, and capitalization.
How Much and How Often?
Provide your middle schoolers with a steady diet of writing activities.
- Have them write 3-4 days a week.
- Aim for 8-15 writing projects per year (1-2 each month), meaning paragraphs and short reports that go through all the paces of the writing process.
- Tuck in other writing activities along the way—such as book reports, journal writing, and current events—that don’t require revisions.
- Spend no more than 45-60 minutes per writing day. Consider both the assignment itself as well as your child’s age and attention span.
- Students should primarily write 1- to 5-paragraph compositions and occasionally 1- to 2-page reports.
Become a Purposefully Involved Parent
During middle school, students should begin taking more responsibility for their own learning. At the same time, parents need to be purposefully and consistently involved. Though it’s tempting to let your child work independently, this isn’t the time to jump ship and abdicate your role as primary teacher. This means:
- Overseeing and supervising daily writing.
- Setting a pace for assignment completion so your child stays on task.
- Reading and commenting on each writing assignment to show that you’re interested and that you care.
- Promptly editing and returning work to keep your child from falling behind.
Copyright 2010 © Kim Kautzer. All rights reserved.
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In Spring 2011, WriteShop will introduce WriteShop Junior Book D, the first in a series of writing curricula for middle and upper elementary ages. To be among the first to get the scoop about the book’s release, join our mailing list by visiting www.writeshop.com and looking for the newsletter sign-up box.
Children in grades 6-8 can also begin using WriteShop I, a great program for teaching and reinforcing the steps of the writing process. Parent supervision is a key element of the program as you learn to equip and inspire successful writers.