Writing Styles Your Child Should Know


If you want to help your child develop her writing skills at home, it’s important that you know the different styles of writing that are being covered in schools. In most cases, these are the same writing formats that you learned in the primary grades, but reviewing these writing styles and speaking with your child’s writing teacher can help you better determine the areas you can help your child work on in her writing at home.

Narrative Writing

When your child is writing to tell a story, she’s writing a narrative. Narrative writing is often called upon on standardized tests and might be a personalized account similar to an essay or it might be completely fabricated. It’s always important to teach your child the difference between fiction and nonfiction. There is a time and place for both. Samples of narrative writing can include:

  • A response to an inquiry such as, “Tell about a time you got hurt.”
  • A creative story following the adventures of favorite animals.

Persuasive Writing

Writing to persuade is a skill that has been around elementary and secondary classrooms for some time. Persuasive writing involves creating emotion in the reader and appealing to that reader to do what it is your child, the author, wants him to do. Newspapers and most media stories are excellent examples of persuasive writing. Persuasive writing techniques you can use at home include:

  • Writing a letter to the editor of a newspaper or magazine.
  • Writing a letter to a political figure about a cause that your child is passionate about.
  • Writing a letter nominating a favorite teacher for a special award.

Descriptive Writing

In the days of old, descriptive writing was systematic. A child described a picture in great detail starting at one side of the image and following the page across to the other side all the while detailing the stuffed animal lying on the polka-dotted bedspread beside the heart shaped lamp. Today formulaic descriptions have gone by the wayside and instead descriptive writing is designed to show others what it is you’re seeing. This is showing not telling. Rather than taking readers on a tour through a bedroom, you put yourself in the room and explain what it is you see, touch, hear and smell so that others can experience the full sensation as well. Practice descriptive writing by:

  • Pretending to be on a mountain in the summer and explaining the experience in a letter to a friend.
  • Writing a journal entry describing what you see as you sit beside a lake, ocean, roaring waterfall or busy subway.

The Formal Essay

While there is not as much form and function to the essay as there was twenty years ago, an essay is still absolutely a must-have piece of writing in almost every classroom. When writing an essay, the purpose of the writing is to demonstrate your knowledge on a particular topic based on research, lecture or experience. To most effectively convey the knowledge, the essay must be structured and organized in a way that is easy for the reader to follow.

While the five paragraphs essay with an introduction, three body paragraphs and a conclusion is still used, it is just one of many ways to organize an essay. Creating a natural flow between thoughts in a way that is engaging to the reader is important when preparing an essay as is utilizing each sentence as a purposeful addition to the piece. Your child’s essay shouldn’t contain a great deal of extra filler material. Every sentence should relate back to a point falling under the central theme or main idea of the essay. Formal essays your child might write include:

  • What impact have humans had on the Earth in the past century?
  • Describe the most important uses of the internet in schools today.


Poetry is not taught as often in the classroom as it might have been in your youth. Granted, poetry is often taught most by those who greatly enjoy it. Those teachers who prefer more structured and lengthy materials will spend the bulk of their writing instruction on those methods. If you would like to encourage your child’s creativity, there are many styles of poetry that you can try. Consider:

  • Limericks
  • Haiku
  • Sonnets
  • Free Verse
  • Rhyming Stanzas
  • Acrostic
  • Blank Verse
  • Epigram
  • Lyric

Professional Writing

What you learned on stationary and typewriters, your child is going to learn on the computer. While there might still be a section on writing a formal letter in class, your child is much more likely to learn the proper etiquette for writing an email to a friend, teacher, family member and formally. You can help these efforts by practicing at home and letting your child see how you address an email and the rules you follow. These might be items such as avoiding writing in all capitals, using slang and text codes in emails and omitting punctuation.

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