More Tips For Parents of Primary Grade Writers

When my first grade class first comes into my room in the morning, a mob of quivering little people surround me in breathless anticipation, jostling for position in order to be the first to relay a nonstop staccato rendition of all the details of their lives, and all the news about everyone else that they know, all of which occurred since they left school the day before. However, when I ask the same students to write a story more often than not they respond, “I dunno what to write about.” My fellow teachers and I will work on this over the school year, but we can always use help from home. How can you help?

 The simple answer is to have them write and practice at home. Children as young as kindergarten are expected to write in school, so its never too early to start. In another post on my website I’ve written about how to facilitate writing at home for the very young, and gave tips on techniques, materials and tools to utilize. You should reference that article if you haven’t read it, and these more “advanced” tips.

 1) Just as the “oral reports” they barrage me with are a retelling of what they know, most primary children can best write about true life experiences. So have them write about what they know.

 2) Talk about subjects on the way to school or during dinner to bring out possible story ideas that they can share through writing.

 3) Remind them that books have a beginning , middle and end, and so do good stories.

 4) To make a story flow, help them learn and/or utilize some basic transition words (first, next, last, then, etc.) as they write.

 5) Encourage them to use simple describing words to make their story richer.

 6) They should be encouraged to write their feelings and emotions about the subject.

 7) Get a children’s dictionary and help them use it so that stories can be read more easily by others.

 8) They should reread what they have written to see if it makes sense.

 9) Keep a writer’s notebook to carry back and forth to school with story ideas in it.

 10) Be patient and give praise and encouragement, not criticism. Raise them to believe that they are a writer with stories worth telling, and that is what they will become.

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6 Comments + Add Comment

  • As a parent of a budding writer and also as a writer (and college writing teacher) myself, #10 could not be more important. It’s hard to resist the urge to correct spelling, to suggest improvements, or to ask questions about gaps in the story. Really hard. But when I enjoy my child’s writing on its own terms, there is nothing more magical or wonderful or perfect in the world.

  • I love this!!

    I’m going to use this list for my 3rd grade DD who loves to tell stories. I’m going to use this in our creative writing class. ;-)

  • I think as parents we often let our kids “catch” us reading, but forget that it’s important to model writing in front of them too. Making writing a daily family habit makes good sense and will pay huge rewards.

  • Love this. I’m a big believer in storytelling using both words and drawings. Drawings especially help children to visualize what they are conveying. I did a project with stories written by children from around the world called “Kids’ Stories International”. They illustrated their stories and we animated them to narration. The stories came alive!

  • As a 4th grade teacher I applaud you. I couldn’t agree more. By the time they get to 4th grade, they will know all about story and we can go deeper and deeper into a book or a piece of writing! Nice Work!


  • This is really helpful. Our 3 year old has recently changed from mark making, to squiggly lines as she tells a story and is now writing recognisable letters in a jumbled fashion on the paper. We live and breathe stories and music, from reading books to telling stories to playing rhyming games and singing songs. From when she was a new baby we decided that these tools would be very important to us as parents. Our new baby is showing an interest in books too so hopefully our dedication to these subjects for our little ones will pay off. It’s not that we are pushing them, just encouraging them and leading by example. If they both grow to love music and reading then we will be patting ourselves on the back.

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