Supplement Your Child's Private School Writing Skills

Communication is the third top skill sought by today's employers. Here's how to supplement your child's private school writing instruction.

Private schools typically offer a range of valuable and specialized skills. If you are fortunate, the private school in which your child enrolls will offer a well developed writing program.

Good writing skills form the backbone of higher education. Those with weak or unpracticed writing ability may find themselves at a loss when they enroll in college. Some are required to take, and pay for, basic writing classes that provide foundational instruction in this core skill.

If you are unsure whether your child is receiving top notch writing training in private school, here are some tips for finding out and if necessary, supplementing a writing program.

1. Meet with the instructor. Discuss the curriculum learning outcomes and how the assignments prepare a child to demonstrate mastery of the outcomes. Ask how this program will prepare your child for college writing and an eventual career.

2. Contact the admissions officer to find out how your private school's graduates have performed in college and on the job. Alumni statistics may be available to indicate the number of graduates who went on to college and graduated successfully. Additional data may show what number are employed and the type of jobs they hold. This information will give you some idea of the validity of the school's writing program, since writing skills form the basis of continuing study after high school and ultimate job competence. Many mid- to high-level managers report that reading and writing tasks consume as much as 80% of a typical work day.

3. Inquire about an honors program. The field may be English, composition, literature, critical thinking skills, or another discipline. But each of these will require solid writing performance to demonstrate a student's knowledge in a given area. See if your child qualifies for participation in a higher level class where writing skills will be honed and polished.

4. See if extra credit writing assignments are offered. Reports, research papers, evaluations, assessments, and problem-solving proposals may provide opportunities for your child to study and practice more sophisticated writing techniques. Even a business writing program requiring technical reports, reference letters, or complaints can advance your child's ability to write for an audience.

5. Assign at-home writing for your child. Pay for multi-page reports or book reviews in dollars or earned privileges. Display the work in a prominent place, and praise your child's writing abilities to others.

6. Enroll your son or daughter in a creative writing workshop or program. Whether three hours, three days, or three weeks over the summer, a creating writing class or seminar can provide your child with an opportunity to explore ideas and tap his or her creativity while expressing it in a conventional (or unconventional!) written format. Check the instructor's credentials and possible accreditation for your child before choosing a program.

7. Encourage your child to write frequently. Letters, notes, cards, and emails will provide practice of basic vocabulary, sentence structure, and paragraph development skills. Even a little bit of writing on an occasional basis can make a difference.

Use your influence as a concerned parent to ensure that your child receives all the benefits of a competent writing program. If in doubt, take steps to supplement your private school's program with ideas like those outlined above.

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