Why some kids have trouble writing their ideas

By Andrew M.I. Lee, JD

Some kids have a hard time putting their thoughts “on paper.” They struggle to come up with ideas, organize thoughts, or figure out how to start or finish a piece of writing. Teachers often call these written expression skills

When kids have trouble with written expression, it doesn’t mean they’re not smart, or that they’re not interested in writing. Many kids who struggle are trying as hard as they can. They may just need more practice and better support.

When young kids have trouble with writing, it could be their age. Not all kids develop writing skills at the same pace. And the differences can be even greater for kids who are young for their grade.

Sometimes kids struggle because they haven’t been taught important writing skills in school. This includes harder skills like how to organize a research paper. Or the basics, like when to use a comma or period.

Some kids have learning and thinking differences that cause trouble with writing. One is called written expression disorder. It refers to difficulty organizing and expressing thoughts in writing. Or they may have trouble with mechanical writing skills like handwriting. Kids who struggle with focus can also have trouble writing.

Reading challenges like dyslexia can cause trouble with writing, too. That’s because reading and writing are language skills that work together. Learn about signs that kids struggle with reading

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    About the author

    About the author

    Andrew M.I. Lee, JD is an editor and attorney who strives to help people understand complex legal, education, and parenting issues.

    Reviewed by

    Reviewed by

    Gary A. Troia, PhD is an expert in phonological processing, writing instruction, and professional development in literacy.