Have you ever read a piece of writing that felt somewhat “disconnected?” The words were all there and maybe they even had a lot of substance to them. But when you got to the end of the story, you felt confused — like you’d missed something important. It’s likely that the writer forgot one of the most important writing skills: using paragraphs to organize and clarify their subject.

Why paragraphs even matter
Paragraphs break the written word into manageable chunks that our brains can process. If you’ve ever looked at an email or news story that was written as one long body of words, you likely felt daunted by the content before you even began reading!  If you put a few breaks in those same pieces, suddenly your mind relaxes and you sit back eager to read what the author has to say.

That’s not the only purpose of paragraphs, though. Paragraphs also create a sense of flow as you read. Each paragraph has a specific purpose within a piece of writing. It might be to introduce you to the topic at hand, or to transition you into the next point the author wants to make. It could be to tie up all the arguments made in the previous paragraphs so that you are persuaded to the author’s way of thinking.

Is your child missing a crucial writing skill?
As we begin our writing instruction with children, we spend a lot of time on how to create strong sentences. We explain what subjects and verbs are and help them spot punctuation and capitalization errors within their sentences. We point out sentences that aren’t quite complete. By the time children become masters at sentences, our tendency is to excitedly start them on more complex assignments such as writing a report, or telling a story using their new-found skill.  If we taught them about paragraphs, it may have been hurriedly, so that they could get to the “good stuff” of writing recognizable pieces of communication.

It’s also possible that looking back on your older student’s writing instruction, you realize that they might have gotten shortchanged in the paragraph writing area. If your child’s reports and essays seem to be missing a certain flow or don’t quite communicate their point, it’s likely that a gap in paragraph writing instruction is to blame.

Help your young writer become a Paragraph Pro
The great news is that it is never too late to learn the finer points of writing purposeful and proper paragraphs, and the sooner the better! Because every form of academic and informative writing is made up of paragraphs, this is one skill where you don’t want to skimp on instruction.

Time4Writing offers an eight-week paragraph writing course for each level of student writers, from 2nd grade through high school. Within these courses, students will learn all about the different types of paragraphs, the purposes of the sentences within a paragraph, and how paragraphs work together to create an overall picture of the topic being written about.

The elementary paragraph writing course is designed for students in grades 2-5, and prepares students for using their well-written paragraphs to write essays. The middle school paragraph writing course targets grades 6-8, and guides them through writing paragraphs on a variety of topics and using a range of paragraph styles.  9-12 graders will benefit from Time4Writing’s high school paragraph writing course, which will make sure they understand all the fundamentals of paragraph writing while preparing them for the advanced writing that they are expected to create at this level.