The Four Types of Writing Your Child Is Expected to Master

Writing Can Improve Health, Understanding, Grades

Teenage girl writing in journal
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Writing is good for your mental health. In fact, certain types of writing can actually alleviate physical and psychological symptoms ranging from pain to stress to lung capacity. According to one study of people with asthma and rheumatoid arthritis, patients who wrote about stress for 20 minutes on each of three consecutive days showed improvement on objective, clinical evaluations compared with control patients.

According to an article in the American Psychological Association's website:

“107 asthma and rheumatoid arthritis patients wrote for 20 minutes on each of three consecutive days--71 of them about the most stressful event of their lives and the rest about the emotionally neutral subject of their daily plans....Four months after the writing exercise, 70 patients in the stressful-writing group showed improvement on objective, clinical evaluations compared with 37 of the control patients.”

Health is one good reason for encouraging your child to write. Writing can also help your child to better understand what she is reading. And, of course, good writing is an important element in building a good great point average.

What to Ask Your Child Before Giving Advice

When your child comes to you for help with a writing assignment, the first thing you probably do is ask what the topic is. But it's also important to know how the instructor expects the writing to be framed, and what techniques or styles are expected to be included in the work.

There are four basic types of writing students will learn as classes become more writing-intensive.

Narrative

Narrative writing tells a story. Though it’s most commonly used when in personal essays (along with the lines of "What I Did to Celebrate the Holidays"), this type of writing can also be used for fictional stories, plays or even a plot summary of a story your child has read or intends to write.

This is likely the most frequently used of the four most common types of writing, and students will spend a significant amount of time learning how to write narratives. Narrative writing is frequently, but not always, in the first person, and is organized sequentially, with a beginning, middle, and end.

Descriptive

Descriptive writing is used to create a vivid picture of an idea, place or person. It is much like painting with words. It focuses on one subject and uses specific detail to describe that upon which your child is focused. For example, if your child is asked to write about his favorite ride at an amusement park, his writing will not only tell the name of the ride and what it looks like but also describe the sensation of being on it and what that experience reminds him of. In upper grades, a student's descriptive writing should be more subtle and nuanced, using figurative and metaphorical language.

Descriptive writing is used in descriptions of fictional and non-fictional characters, poetry parts of book reports, and in various kinds of observational writing.

Expository

Expository writing is to-the-point and factual. This category of writing includes definitions, instructions,  directions and other basic comparisons and clarifications.

Expository writing is devoid of descriptive detail and opinion.

Expository writing is a crucial skill. Students will need expository writing not only in school but also in many potential careers that aren't primarily writing-oriented. Students must be able to organize their thoughts, follow a plan, and in higher grades, conduct research to support their theses. It requires thinking on multiple levels.

Persuasive

Persuasive writing is a more sophisticated type of writing to which your child will be introduced around fourth grade. It can be thought of as a debate in writing. The idea is to express an opinion or to take a stance about something and then to support that opinion in a way that convinces the reader to see it the same way.

Persuasive writing contains an explanation of the other point of view and uses facts and/or statistics to disprove that view and support the writer's position. Some examples of persuasive writing include essays, debate position papers, editorial pieces such as letters to the editor and book or concert reviews.

Sources

  • Murray, Bridget. Writing to heal. American Psychological Association. Web. June 2002, Vol 33, No. 6
  • Zimmer, Carl. This is your brain on writing. New York Times. Web. June 20, 2014.

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