By Mary Winfield

In this series on teaching your child to write we have covered pre-writing pointers, forming letters, putting letters together, and getting thoughts down on paper. In this final installment in the series, we will look at research paper writing in older students.

Writing a research paper can seem overwhelming to both the student and the teacher! Luckily, once you know the process, it is made much easier. Here is the easy way to write a research paper.


In order to write a paper, you have to know about the subject matter. Help your child find reputable sources in books and magazines to help them learn about the subject matter. If you go to or do an internet search to find peer-reviewed articles instead of general websites.

As your child researches, have him or her keep track of what they are reading, where they found it, and what they learned. Your child can even copy and paste into a research document rather than writing everything out. Generally, your child should pull from at least 5 different sources when writing a paper (more if it is a longer paper), which means your child should plan on reading from more than five sources.


As your child reads, discuss his or her thoughts about different aspects of the material. What does your child agree with or disagree with? Why? These are important parts of forming the thesis or basic premise of the paper.

Once your student has a good idea of what his or her topic is, have your child write down a one-sentence summary of the premise and why he or she thinks that way. This will be the thesis. The next step is to break down the paper into points that back up the thesis. Let me give you a basic example.

Let’s say I am writing a paper on how to classify cows in the animal kingdom. My thesis would be something like, “Based on the presence of hair growth, birth of live offspring, and the production of milk to feed infants, cows should be classified as mammals.”

I would take the points that support my thesis (in this case, hair growth, birth of live offspring, and production of milk) and make them each paragraphs in my paper. Your student should start organizing their notes into sections (or put them on index cards or post-it notes if you want a very visual way of organizing it all).


Once you are organized, then writing should be easy. Introduction paragraph has a short overview of the paper and the thesis. Body paragraphs each have a point that supports the thesis along with resources to back up the claim. Then the conclusion states the thesis in a different way and makes any other conclusions.

You will also have to worry about citing sources and the list of sources at the end of the paper. The way that you do this will depend on which format you use (MLA and APA being the two most often used formats). You can, of course, buy manuals and resource guides, but my favorite resource is the Purdue Online Writing Lab which is free and will give you more in-depth help with all of these areas of writing a paper.

Writing a paper doesn’t have to be overwhelming. With the right process and the right resources, you can break it down into manageable tasks that don’t seem as hard.




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By Mary Winfield

Once you have worked on  sizing, alignment, and spacing, it is time to help your child put their thoughts together into sentences and paragraphs. For me, this is the exciting part! Teaching a child that they can use their imagination, think of anything they want, and then communicate that to others is almost magical. There are a couple different ways to help them do this.


Journaling is a great way to start. Having a notebook that they write in a few times a week is a low stress way to start learning to write longer concepts. When your children begin journaling, they can write just a single sentence about something they have done, something they have learned, something they want to do, or a place they have visited. You can even have them answer a question about themselves every day if they need somewhere to start.

We often learn best by doing, so journaling is also a great way to work on spelling, grammar, and vocabulary. You can also have writing prompts that focus on spelling or vocabulary words you are currently working on. Learning concepts as they write will help them to be able to do it in the future.

Having a pen pal or writing a cousin or grandmother is a great way to work on their writing. Your child will have to write legibly so that the other person can read it without assistance. Your child also has to be able to group thoughts together. Writing letters is also great way to work on social interaction in a way that takes the pressure off of your child. Since there is no physical interaction, a child can learn concepts like responding to the stories of others, answering questions, and practicing empathy. Learning these skills through letters is a great way to solidify concepts that can then be used later in person.

Storytelling is another great way to teach writing, allowing your child to explore his or her imagination and think outside the box. Later, storytelling can also help with problem solving and understanding different points of view. If your child needs some encouragement to write stories, here are some ways that you can help:

  • Print some pictures and have your child write a story that includes them all.
  • Have a character jar, action jar, or first line jar that your child can choose from and then include in a story.
  • Have a story notebook that gets passed around the family. Each person contributes a little bit to the story, and then the next person picks up where the last person left off.
  • Read several similar books (ex: the classic story of The 3 Little Pigs,  The True Story of the Three Little Pigs, and The Three Little Wolves and the Big Bad Pig). Then either have your child write another version of the story, or use one of the parodies as a template to write a different version of another fairy tale.
  • Most importantly, have fun with it! Have everyone write a story to share with the family one night or have them share it with a friend.


If you missed the earlier posts in this series, you can find them here:
Pre-writing Pointers
The 3 Steps of Forming Letters
Spacing, Sizing, and Alignment

For more writing ideas, visit our Writing Resources Pinterest board


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