SchoolFamily Voices

Connie McCarthy is passionate about her work as a teacher of young children. She has devoted her entire career to making sure that her students do well at school, right from the start. Connie has an undergraduate degree in Elementary Education, and a Master’s Degree in Special Education. She has been teaching first grade in East Providence, R.I. for 23 years, where she received the distinction of “Highly Qualified Teacher” by the Rhode Island State Board of Regents. Connie also taught nursery school for four years, and published numerous articles on early education in East Bay Newspapers in Bristol, R.I. She’s also been published in PTO Today Magazine. She lives with her husband, Brian, and has a daughter and a son, both young adults. Connie enjoys reading, writing about elementary education, and taking long walks with friends. During summer vacations, she likes to travel with her husband. She also loves reading readers’ comments on her weekly blog posts.

Help Good Readers Become Good Writers, Part 2

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In “Help Good Readers Become Good Writers, Part 1,” I explained the “six traits of writing” that many school districts use to teach young authors. This week’s focus is on the three types of writing most required by Common Core State Standards in the early grades. They are:

  • Opinion writing (explain and defend an opinion)
  • Informative writing (writing to inform or instruct the reader)
  • Narrative writing (fiction or non-fiction that tells a story)

Here are some simple suggestions for parents to help their young child successfully navigate these three types of writing. You will need three readily available items to get started:

  • A notebook (to keep writing in one place)
  • A pencil with an eraser
  • A box of 16 colored pencils. (I recommend colored pencils rather than crayons because pencils allow children to layer colors in their illustrations, adding more detail to pictures.)

For an opinion writing piece: On one or two pages of the notebook, have your child draw and write about a book you read together, and why she did or did not like it. She can draw the picture and you can scribe her reasons, or she can write a few sentences to explain her opinion.

For informative writing: If your child is a dinosaur lover, have him draw and write about his favorite dinosaur, using only facts. For example: “A Triceratops has three horns. It uses its horns for defense.” Another example could be helping him write the directions of how he made something with Legos.

For a narrative writing piece: Help her write and illustrate stories about learning to play a new sport, taking karate lessons (non-fiction) or being an astronaut (fiction.) Remember to help her organize and sequence the story by what happened in the beginning, middle, and end.

For all types of writing, help your child practice different ways to say the same thing. For example, instead of using “little,” try “small” or “tiny.” Instead of “good,” try “terrific” or “great.”

Gently help your child edit their writing for spelling, capital letters, and punctuation.

As most good writers are well-read, good reading and good writing go hand in hand!

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Do you allow your children to watch TV or play on the computer before doing their homework?