Q&A: How to Evaluate Your Child’s Writing Skills
My fourth-grader’s writing is very sloppy, and she misspells a lot of words. Her sentences are also only three or four words long. If I ask her to write a sentence, she finds it difficult to put words together. Is she displaying age level behavior with her writing skills? – Sloppy Sal
Your daughter’s writing skills should be judged on the basis of what is expected of students at the end of third grade. Her handwriting at that time would be considered legible if she has correct spacing between letters in a word and words in a sentence.
By the end of third grade, most schools expect students to at least spell one-syllable words correctly. She also should be able to correctly spell the words that were on last year’s spelling tests. Your daughter also should be able to capitalize the first word in a sentence, use punctuation, and vary the length of her sentences.
Parents often evaluate the skill level of their children by using adult standards. Talk to your child’s teacher to find out if your child’s writing meets the school’s expectations for her grade level. You also will find it helpful to look at the writing of other students in the class. If your daughter’s work is not up to grade level, this is the time to discuss how it can be improved.
Parents who are concerned about their young children’s writing skills in preschool through grade 3 can get a good idea of how they are doing by going online to readingrockets.org/looking_at_writing.
Q&A: Facebook For the Younger Set
We have just given our middle-school daughter permission to be on Facebook. How can we make sure that she uses Facebook appropriately and avoids being bullied online? – Safe Cyber Surfer
The time to talk with your child about being on Facebook safely is before she actually is. A good place to start is the safety information site on Facebook (facebook.com/help/?safety). Read this together. Be sure your child understands the consequences of using Facebook inappropriately. It can be dangerous. Ask her if you can visit her page at any time to evaluate the content she is putting up and receiving.
A very unfortunate aspect of the online experience is cyberbullying. The estimate of the number of children who have been ridiculed or threatened through computer messages ranges from 1 in 3 to 1 in 10. Talk to your daughter about bullying and make sure she tells you if something should happen. Some kids can shrug it off, while others are completely unable to handle it.
Judge Thomas Jacobs has written the book, “Teen Cyberbullying Investigated: Where Do Your Rights End and Consequences Begin?” You may want teens to read this. It spells out exactly when a student’s actions cross the line or go as far as illegal activity and gives them a chance to think about ethical issues while reading actual cases.
Peggy Gisler and Marge Eberts