Things to remember
Help your child spend time thinking about a writing project or exercise. Good writers often spend a lot of time thinking, preparing, and researching before starting to write. Your child may dawdle, sharpen a pencil, get papers ready, or look up the spelling of a word. Be patient — this may all be part of her preparation.
Respond to your child's writing
Respond to the ideas your child expresses verbally or in writing. Make it clear that you are interested in what the writing conveys, which means focusing on "what" the child has written rather than "how" it was written. It's usually wise to ignore minor errors, particularly at the stage when your child is just getting ideas together.
Praise your child's writing
Take a positive approach and find good things to say about your child's writing. Is it accurate? Descriptive? Original? Creative? Thoughtful? Interesting?
Avoid writing for your child
Don't write a paper for your child that will be turned in as her work, and don't rewrite your child's work. Meeting a writing deadline, taking responsibility for the finished product, and feeling ownership of it are also important parts of the writing process.
Help your child with her writing as she gets older
Ask your child questions that will help her clarify the details of her stories and assignments as they get longer, and help her organize her thoughts. Talk about the objective of what she is writing.
Provide your child with spelling help when she's ready for it
When your child is just learning how to read and write, she may try different ways to write and spell. Our job is to encourage our children's writing so they will enjoy putting their thoughts and ideas on paper. At first, your child may begin to write words the way that she hears them. For example, she might write "haf" instead of "have", "frn" instead of "friend", and "Frd" instead of "Fred." This actually is a positive step in developing her phonemic awareness. Keep practicing with her, and model the correct spelling of words when you write. As your child gets older and begins to ask more questions about letters and spelling, provide her with the help she needs.
Practice, practice, practice
Writing well takes lots of practice, so make sure your child doesn't get discouraged too easily. It's not easy! Give her plenty of opportunities to practice so that she has the opportunity to improve.
Reading and writing support each other. The more your child does of each, the better she will be at both. Reading can also stimulate your child to write about her own family or school life. If your child has a particular favorite story or author, ask her why she thinks that story or that person's writing is special.
As you read and write more with your child, you will be building an important foundation, and taking steps that will help your child to become a better reader, writer, and student. Your efforts now will make a difference — and it may be just the difference that your child needs to succeed!