Teaching Your Student to Write Effectively

By Huntington Learning Center

Developing good writing skills is critical for effective learning and will help students in all facets of school. From English papers to science labs, from history projects to college admissions essays—writing is a skill your child will use in many areas and subjects.  

What can you do to teach your child to write effectively for every subject? Here are several tips:  

Talk about the purpose. There are many steps involved in creating quality written pieces, but one of the first and most important is identifying the purpose. The purpose of a piece should influence your student’s approach. For example:  

  • Argumentative writing has students make a claim, supply evidence to support that claim, tie that evidence back to it, acknowledge competing claims, and refute them (with evidence and reasoning). Example: your child is asked to write an argument about whether school closures due to the coronavirus pandemic affected children’s reading abilities for reading class. 
  • Expository writing is about conveying information or ideas by introducing a topic, using examples and details to develop the topic, supporting ideas with facts, and making connections between ideas. Example: your child is asked to write about the impact of the rise of social media on today’s students for world history class. 
  • Narrative writing is creating a fiction or nonfiction story or essay by having students share an experience or event, describe vivid details, and build toward a conclusion that brings things all together. Example: your child is asked to write about the best part of their summer vacation for their elementary school teacher or for middle/high school English class. 
  • Descriptive writing is intended to help a reader understand or picture something, and thus, this type of writing requires a student to use vivid, clear language. Unlike narrative writing, it’s written in third person. Example: your child is asked to write about a life-changing invention that significantly impacted humans’ way of life for a science class.  

Talk about audience. With any type of writing, students need to remember that how they write should vary depending on the audience. Sometimes an audience might be other classmates that your child is trying to convince of something. Other times it might be the teacher to whom your child is making an argument. When writing a college admissions essay, your student must keep admissions officers in mind to ensure they are giving them the best picture of who your child is and how they would contribute to a college campus. The audience of a writing assignment should influence your child’s writing approach, language used, and tone of writing.  

Remind students that writing is a process. Remind your student that no matter the subject or piece, good writing involves more than just the writing. It involves planning out what to write, doing the required research, writing a well-outlined draft, editing based on any feedback (from a teacher, friend, or oneself), revising, editing, and proofreading.  

Encourage adding those finishing touches. Whether writing a project report to share research for a science class or an informative essay for English, paying close attention to the details is critical for a good, finished product. Your child must review their own work to check things like:  

  • Punctuation and spelling  
  • Readability (easy to understand) 
  • Sentence variety 
  • Vivid, important, engaging details 
  • Flow from idea to idea, paragraph to paragraph
  • Engaging introduction
  • Logical/compelling conclusion
  • Whether there’s any extraneous information
  • Whether the piece did its job (e.g., answered the admission essay prompt, described that scientific analysis effectively, made a case for that opinion essay, etc.)  

Writing does not come easy to many children, and requires persistence and practice. If your child wants to become a better writer, struggles with writing or is starting to work on college admissions essays to include in their applications, call Huntington. We’ll help your child improve this essential skill through customized instruction tailored to their strengths. For some students, it’s about improving the mechanics. For others, it’s about paying attention to the writing steps to ensure their writing is clear and coherent. Whatever your child needs, Huntington can help. Call us today at 1-800 CAN LEARN