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Learning Disabilities

Writing Strategies

writingSome of the following writing strategies and suggestions may help children who are experiencing problems with writing. Many of those listed are accommodations designed to work around a child’s differences by offering alternate approaches at home and school. Choose the strategies that you think might be helpful to your child.

  • Create a safe environment for writing.
  • Balance feedback between what is good about the writing and what needs improvement, always highlighting whatever is positive in a child’s writing and avoiding direct comparison to other children’s work.

  • Make your expectations explicit.
  • Clarify your expectations when presenting an assignment or giving directions to children by telling them the process you want them to use to write a report and by modeling that process for them.

  • Evaluate content and mechanics separately.
  • Help a child to see that he or she may have good ideas and still need to work on a particular writing sub-skill. Always correct any grammatical or other speech errors in private and do so in a respectful way.

  • Encourage a variety of writing activities.
  • Keeping a daily journal can be motivating and can provide needed writing practice. Consider other fun writing assignments such as writing to pen pals or suggest that your child compose songs or record family trips.

  • Encourage free writing.
  • Set a time each day during which children can write about anything that interests them. Stress that no one else will read or evaluate what he or she writes.

  • Separate the creative aspects of writing from the motor aspects.
  • Some children who struggle with the physical process of recording their own ideas benefit from dictating assignments to a parent or someone else.

  • Allow enough time for each assignment.
  • Help children estimate how long a given task will take to complete. Consider giving them additional time to complete a written assignment or test rather than have something due at the end of the class period.

  • Provide time for revision and proofreading.
  • Encourage children to revise and proofread their drafts, and provide time for them to do so. Explain to them that writing is a process and that it is easier to proofread what they have written several days —rather than immediately— after writing it.

  • Introduce your child to one of a variety of simple graphic organizers.
  • Investigate computer programs including word webs, story maps, and venn diagrams, to help him or her approach writing in a systematic way. The Education Place Web site has a number of useful tools you can download.

  • Provide access to programs or tutors that can help your child improve his or her word processing skills.
  • Many children who struggle with motor output (handwriting) benefit from using a computer for their written work. Summer time is optimal for acquiring these skills.

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