Wake Up Kids’ Writing Skills

Is there a way I can improve my 9-year-old daughter’s writing skills? She is a brilliant reader, but her writing skills are below average according to the teacher. She never is “in the mood” to write, even on my laptop.
— No Writer

Answer: The secret for children becoming better writers is for them to write a lot. Unfortunately, writing simply does not appeal to many children. Poor handwriting skills may stop some from writing. Others may not be able to think of anything to write about. Teachers have had great success in getting children to write by having them write briefly in a journal every day. They can even supply the topic.

As a parent, asking, or even requiring, your daughter to write every day is not too likely to be successful in improving her writing unless she is motivated to do so. Talk to her about how being a good writer leads to future success in school. Plus, when you read to her, talk about such things as how the author describes the characters and the setting as well as begins and ends a story. This will teach her more about writing. Another approach would be to have a relative write a brief e-mail to her every day with the expectation of her responding. Grandmothers can be especially good at this.

Question: My fourth-grader is required to participate in his school’s science fair next month. His teacher has given us very little guidance except for one very general instruction sheet. How are we ever going to get this done?
— First-Timer

Answer: Relax and have fun! It really is possible for an entire family to enjoy a child’s science fair project. First of all, there is an abundance of information about every aspect of science fairs in library books and online.
You’ll be able to find age-appropriate projects and techniques for completing them. Look at these after reading the school’s guidelines very carefully.

Because your son is young, you will need to help him organize his project. What follows are the steps you should take to make the project a worthwhile learning experience. A successful project can turn into his having a lasting interest in science.

• Be sure to follow the guidelines about what the appropriate amount of parental help is.
• Talk with friends about how they have handled these projects. Be sure to find out what the pitfalls can be.
• Help your son choose a project that he can easily handle. To keep himself excited about the project, he should choose one that interests him and can be completed in an age-appropriate amount of time.
• Prepare with your son a realistic time line that will spell out the dates for completing each step of the project. Then help him follow it. Start early so there will be a few days at the end to handle any unexpected events.
• Have your son make a list of all the supplies that he needs a few days before beginning the project so they can be obtained.
• Help him decide how he is going to record the data that he gets from doing the project.
• Take pictures of different stages of the project for the display board.
• Charts showing results of the project should not be computer-generated unless your child is capable of doing this.
Your son needs to be the one to do the project. Provide help only when an extra pair of hands is needed. Suggest that he practice the presentation he will make to the judges until he can deliver it with confidence.