Capitals, periods, and commas, oh my!



Hello Julie.
Any way to get my 11 y.o. to remember capitals and periods? He can remember when we do dictation (because that and neatness are my main emphasis with dictation) but when he is doing his own writing he can’t seem to remember, and when I ask him to go back over his writing he gets stressed. Oddly enough he sometimes throws commas in, often in the right place; and will sometimes use commas where there should be a period. Any ideas?

I love all the writing tips and I have learned from you not to nit-pick when he does his own free writing–right now he is into writing music reviews!



Hi Holly.

Maybe take the pressure off and tell him you know he knows how to use them because he does them well in dictation. Tell him that you won’t notice whether he remembers them in original writing for the next 4 months. He can think about for himself how to remember but you won’t ask him or correct him. You’ll just leave things be for a semester or so and then you can meet back up and look at all his work from that time and see if there was any improvement or not and if he found any way to help remind himself in that time.

If he wants some ideas for how to remind himself, you can tell him a couple of these to consider:

  1. Keep a notecard of “stuff to remember” for him to look at ahead of writing so it will be uppermost in his mind when he starts.
  2. He can get someone else to correct his work (not him, since that stresses him out) for him until he remembers on his own.
  3. He can wait a week or more to make the corrections so he isn’t faced with them too quickly.
  4. He can use his own original writing as copywork/dictation later in the week/month to practice with.

But only offer these suggestions if he wants them. Don’t help him decide.

I promise, his understanding is there and that knowledge will transfer. Try not to worry about it. He’s only 11.  🙂


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