Pat Iyer

By Pat Iyer

Learn How to Write with Your Children

Learn How to Write with Your Children 150 150 Patricia Iyer

Homework is part of a child’s life. Not every child needs help in starting and completing it, but every child can benefit from a parent’s encouragement and participation in the homework process. A parent’s interest can make the burden of homework, making it more enjoyable.

Participating in a child’s homework can benefit a parent, too, particularly in the areas of grammar and writing in general. Far too many adults have forgotten the grammar, punctuation, and spelling rules they learned as children.

This forgetfulness can lead to reports, memos, and other writing riddled with errors that detract from their value.

Sharing in a child’s homework can help you to revive your familiarity with these rules.

Set Guidelines

Unfortunately, some parents think the way to help children with their homework is to do it for them. Do not fall into this trap. You and your child will get into trouble if the teacher discovers this practice. Far worse, your children won’t learn to think for themselves, and this is a much higher loss.

Instead, set guidelines at the beginning. Make it clear that you will answer questions, read essays, and reports that the child has written. You will make suggestions and look over the finished writing.

Make It Fun

The odds are that your grade school teacher didn’t do this. Maybe she never taught why commas are necessary or how much difference it makes whether you use it’s or its.

You can demonstrate to your child how a comma adds drama by creating a small pause. Read this sentence aloud:

“When we got to the woods,”—then pause before continuing—“an army of mosquitoes attacked us.”

Reading aloud can also teach a child the value of the Oxford comma.

We laughed,

We danced,

And we said we’d always be best friends.

Hearing how punctuation makes writing sound teaches a child the music of language.

Online References compiled a list of the 10 best grammar resources for English language learners.

Another good source is Grammar Girls at Writer’s Digest has frequently named this among the 101 best web sites for writers.

Essays, Book Reviews, and Reports

Do your best to find out well ahead of time if your child has to write one of these. Putting words together to make a point, especially for a younger child, can be challenging. You can help by saying that the first draft can be very rough and add that its quality has nothing to do with the child’s ability to write. (This could be an excellent reminder for you, too.)

You can also encourage the child by asking him to tell you what he wants to say. For a book review, ask him to tell you what it’s about and what he thought of the book. Then have him immediately write down what he said.

Towards the end of the writing process, build on the punctuation lessons by having him read his work aloud. This will not only help him to identify errors but will build on an appreciation of the music of language.

With patience and attention, you and your child can learn together and share a special time.

Help your children with their writing/reports homework. Not only will this provide valuable family time, but you may get to learn the rules of grammar along with your children.

Pat Iyer’s children learned how to write well, in part because she read so many books to them.  Pat loves to write, edit, and ghostwrite. Connect with her at