Reading Rockets: Launching Young Readers
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Reading Rockets: Launching Young Readers

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Reading Rockets: Launching Young Readers
Parent Tips
Go to Parent Tips:   Pre-K   |   K   |   1st   |   2nd   |   3rd  
Roots of Reading Roots of Reading
Sounds and Symbols
Fluent Reading
Writing and Spelling
Reading for Meaning
Reading Rocks!
Empowering Parents
Becoming Bilingual
Reading and the Brain
A Chance to Read
Toddling Toward Reading

Parent Tips 4 - Writing & Spelling

Find ways to read, write, and tell stories together with your child. Always applaud your young reader and beginning story writer!

  • Tell family tales.
    Children love to hear stories about their family. Tell your child what it was like when you or your parents were growing up, or talk about a funny thing that happened when you were young.

  • Create a writing toolbox.
    Find a special box and fill it with drawing and writing materials. Think of everyday opportunities for your child to write — the family shopping list, thank-you notes, birthday cards, or signs for the bedroom door.

  • Be your child's #1 fan.
    Show interest in your child's homework and writing assignments. Ask your child to read out loud what he or she has written. Be an enthusiastic listener.

  • One more time with feeling.
    When your child has figured out an unfamiliar word, have him or her re-read that sentence one more time. Often children are so busy figuring out a word that they lose the meaning of what they've just read.

  • Create a book together.
    Make a handmade book together by folding pieces of paper in half and stapling them together. Your second grader can write his or her own story, with different sentences on each page. Ask your child to illustrate the book with his or her own drawings.

  • Do storytelling on the go.
    Take turns adding to a story the two of you make up while riding in a car or bus. Either one of you could start. Try making the story funny or spooky. This will stretch the imagination and foster a love for stories. It's fun, too!

  • Point out the relationship between words.
    Show your child how words relate and how this helps with both spelling and word meanings. If your child is having a hard time spelling a word like knowledge, for example, point out that it is related to the word know.

  • Invite an author to class.
    Volunteer to invite a published author to talk to your child's class about the writing process. Young children often think they aren't smart enough if they can't sit down and write a perfect story on the first try. It can be very helpful for them to hear an author discuss how important revising and editing is to good writing.

  • Use a writing checklist.
    Have your child create a checklist to always use when writing a first draft. The checklist could contain reminders such as, "Do all of my sentences start with a capital? Yes/No." You might want to show the checklist to your child's teacher. That way you both can be sure that you're giving your child the same instructions.

  • Quick, quick.
    Once a child can read a word, you can use it in lively speed drills. Show the word along with other words that your child has learned recently. Either use flash cards or a computer game. Make it fast so he or she doesn't get bored. These drills sometimes help children automatically recognize and read certain words, especially those that are used frequently.

By second grade, many kids are beginning to write their own stories. Their writings are filled with the made-up spellings of words that are based on what they hear. These misspellings are often cute and are also a clue as to how well a child hears and understands language.

If we know how to look at a child's spelling, we can 
tell what that child understands. Anything that is going to cause trouble with a child's reading will show up dramatically in the child's spelling and writing. – Dr. Louisa Moats, National Institute of Child Health and Human Development

To become better readers and writers, kids must soon learn the conventional spelling of words. Learning about spelling rules and patterns is helpful. So is having your child do a lot of reading and writing on his or her own.

Reading and writing skills go hand in hand. Reading gives kids models of good writing — they learn about punctuation, capitalization, grammar, storytelling, and vocabulary. And writing builds important thinking skills such as how to organize, sequence, and express ideas in a way that makes sense.

Try some of the tips above to sneak in ways to get your child to read and write. What you want to avoid is making reading and writing a chore. Without a doubt, one of the most important roles you play is that of cheerleader. Applaud your child's efforts and successes. Give him or her the courage and motivation to keep at it!

Would you like to read more tips? Click here to go to the next set of parent tips. The tips are only loosely grouped according to age level. Read them all, try them out, and see what works for your child.

Feel free to also take a look at a one-page handout that contains shortened versions of the above tips for parents of second graders. (You'll need the free Acrobat Reader available at to view and print the PDF file). You are welcome to print out, photocopy, and pass out this handout if you wish. Or click here to send a friend an e-mail version of any of the parent tips.

Reading and literacy are important issues for public television. More information about reading is available at the new PBS Parents website. Or check the main Reading Rockets website at

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