Soccer Practice, Music Lessons, Homework, and Writing too? Yes!


The following is a guest post by Laurie Zupan Smilowitz, M.F.A., author of Writer, Writer, Words on Fire. This post is not sponsored.

Soccer Practice, Music Lessons, Homework, and Writing too? Yes!
by Laurie Zupan Smilowitz, M.F.A.

It’s never been more important for our young children to learn how to communicate well. Think of all the ways we use writing. In addition to job applications, reports, letters, notes, and work-related projects there are emails, e-books, text messages, blogs, and social-networking sites, just to name a few. The ways we deliver writing to each other may change. But the need for effective writing stays the same.

Chances are that you are super busy making sure your child gets his homework done, gets to soccer practice, or music lessons on time. How can you fit writing help in too?

Don’t worry! It’s surprisingly easy to help your child write effectively. It doesn’t take much time, and it’s worth the effort.

An easy way to start teaching kids writing is to make writing a bigger part of your every day life.

Try having your child be in charge of keeping the grocery list. Tape paper on the refrigerator. Have your young writer list items as they run out. When you take the list to the store, he can help you find the items. Don’t worry if he uses his letter sounds to spell chicken soup like this: chikin soop. If you can read it say, “Great! I see you’re using the letter sounds you know to write the words.” If you can’t read it then ask him to read it to you.

Leave short notes for your young writer. Put them in her lunch, on her pillow, or on the bathroom mirror. Make sure to leave blank ones out so that she can write one to you or other family members.

Try putting up a large calendar in a central location in your home. Encourage your young writer to add important events in the box for the date, such as First Day of School, Grammy’s birthday, shop for school clothes. Encourage all of your family members to add dates of important activities. Refer to it often.

Make a special place to display your child’s writing. As you put in new pieces of writing, notice how the writing is changing and improving. Are there periods now? Did he use some new spelling words in his writing? Are there spaces consistently now? Compliment your young writer on his growth!

These small changes can have a big payoff. The more your child sees how fun and functional writing can be, the more he will want do it. And the more he writes, the more he will want to make sure his reader understands his message. This is how you begin to help your young writer to build passion and writing skills. Have fun!

Laurie Zupan is a parent, writer, and educator. Writer, Writer, Words on Fire: Fun and Easy Ways to Ignite Your Child’s Passion and Writing Skills is full of tons of concrete examples that are explained in enthusiastic and easy-to-understand language. Each of the chapters is short enough to be read in the bits of free time that a busy parent would have available like while waiting for soccer practice to end, waiting for her turn at the dentist, or in the last quiet ten minutes of the day. Check it out at

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Kristi Maloney is a work from home mom to two boys ages 10 and 13. Since 2009, she has featured in-depth product, and book reviews and hosted high-quality, exciting giveaways on her blog Moms Own Words. When she is not blogging, you can find her working at her son’s school, or behind the wheel of her car in the roll of “taxi driver”. Email at maloney(dot)Kristi@gmail(dot)com.

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  1. jamie braun says

    such great ideas! not something you think about every day, but really important! gotta get the kids creative!

  2. says

    Awesome ideas. In our schools, the focus is definitely on reading. I think they do 120 minutes a day – at least on most days. I always have them reading at my house, but I guess I should start worrying about the writing, too, huh?

  3. says

    This is great information. I like all of the easy ways listed to get children happily (and helpfully) involved.

  4. Robert Rayburn says

    Laurie is a teacher at the school where I am principal. She really puts her ideas into action in her classroom and with our staff. Watching her teach any subject, but especially writing, to children is an amazing and beautiful experience! Her classroom is composed of students who are nearly all learning English as a second language, and over 92% live in poverty. Overwhelming odds for any educator. Laurie’s class is a paradise of excellence. Students come to school an hour early everyday to learn even more from her and she is there to greet them rain or shine. Many times over my career I have read books about teaching children essential literacy skills but those authors do not usually practice their own techniques. Laurie practices what she preaches daily and by doing so brings to flower the minds of countless children. Get her book, read it, and know that this stuff is real, and works artistic miracles on real children everyday.

  5. kristi maloney says


    Thank you so much for stopping by to comment and sharing a bit more about Laurie. She sounds like a wonderful teacher who truly cares and is having an enormous impact on her students. Now, through her book, parents will learn her techniques to help teach their own kids to write and to love writing.

  6. says

    Ms. Smilowitz is a colleague of mine at the elementary school where we both teach. I am a special educator and had the pleasure of working directly with Laurie in her classroom. Her ideas are creative and bring students to a higher level of writing than they would otherwise achieve. She teaches with joy and enthusiasm which is infectious and motivating. The ideas in her book reflect exactly what she does, everyday in her classroom, and instills in her students (including those with special needs) her love of literature, words and writing. I have witnessed students with special needs grow in leaps and bounds as a result of the writing techniques she discusses in her book and that she uses everyday in her classroom. Whether you are a parent, sister, brother, aunt, uncle, etc, the techniques discussed in her book will improve student’s writing skills.

  7. shelly peterson says

    These are awesome ideas and thank you for sharing this great information. My son does some of them already but you have given me more ideas :)

  8. Maryann D. says

    This seems like a terrific book for all parents to read. I do agree that communication is so important for our children and it is definitely needed throughout their life with so many different things that they will have to do. Super ideas!

  9. Vickie Couturier says

    some wonderful points ,I think the art of writing is fading away,,they need to do this while they are young an get in the habit an it will become so much easier as they grow up

  10. Laurie Zupan says

    I’m so glad you found the ideas helpful. I think the way we deliver writing is changing, but I don’t think writing will ever fade away. I believe that it’s more important than ever to help our young writers become passionate and successful communicators. It’s easy and it doesn’t take much time. Love notes and thank you notes are terrific examples. Thanks so much!

  11. Patricia N says

    Thank you for spotlighting this book and topic. My sister is a college professor and she has shown my some of her student papers – appalling! I think that the “teaching to the test” mentality in our schools has come at the expense of basics, including writing.

  12. Laurie Zupan says

    Thanks for your comment, Patricia. I know many college professors who echo your sister’s concerns. I hope there’s a change coming, and that parents of young writers can nurture young writers and help them see how important writing is. I believe that we can make that change happen. Thanks again.

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