Writing Milestones for Every Grade Level!

September 27, 2019
Written by:
Guest Author


At the beginning of every school year, it’s a great idea to create writing milestones for your children. You can start as early as elementary school; and update the list of milestones each year, continuing all the way through high school. Milestones give your children something to work towards and give you a way to plan out which writing lessons you need to focus on the most.

Writing the milestones down somewhere easily visible to your students can really help them focus on their progress. Even if they don’t hit every single milestone, they’ll understand what they’re aiming for. Plus, seeing the milestones they reach checked off the list can inspire your students to try harder to complete the rest. It will also help you, as their teacher, to quickly visualize the progress your children have made throughout the year and see the areas of writing that they struggle with. Adapting lessons to your children’s needs as you go will keep everything moving smoothly and help to prevent frustration for all involved.

Below, you’ll find some common milestones broken down by grades: elementary school, middle school, and high school. While all students learn in their own way and at their own pace, this will help you build a template for the upcoming homeschool year and give you a look at the milestones your children may need to work on in the future.  

Elementary School Milestones

Building a strong foundation at the elementary school level is essential. These first skills may not come easily, so patience and a nurturing environment is helpful. For some children, just holding a pencil correctly and writing out short sentences is a huge win, while others may be more advanced. Here are some milestones you should think about focusing on.

Early ages

  • Holding a pencil correctly
  • Spelling words based on sound
  • Writing words that aren’t spelled the way they sound, like “know”, “of”, “out”
  • Writing simple sentences
  • Writing a paragraph or more about personal experiences

Older ages

  • Practicing words with prefixes and suffixes like “helpful” and “unhelpful”
  • Practicing more complex sentences
  • Planning, drafting and revising short papers
  • Collecting and using source materials
  • Practicing typing

Middle School Milestones

Now that your students understand the basics, they can start growing their skills by writing more expansive and expressive papers. This is the time when you’ll start seeing your children’s personality develop on paper. This is especially true when they practice creative writing. 

  • Expanding their vocabulary, grammar skills, and sentence structure technique
  • Writing more complex stories, including personal experiences and creative writing
  • Writing papers that state a claim, and support that claim with evidence
  • Writing papers that oppose a claim, and support their reasoning with facts
  • Using research tools to find accurate data and information
  • Planning an outline, writing a paper, and revising the paper
  • Continuing to develop typing skills

High School Milestones

When your children reach high school, the writing process really opens up for them. There are so many types of writing to learn at this age. Technical writing, research reports, and resume writing are just a few. Now is also a good time to be prepare for any standardized testing they may have to take.  

  • Writing more complex responses to literary works of art
  • Practicing persuasive writing, business, technical, and expository writing
  • Practicing pre-writing skills, such as creating outlines
  • Developing drafts, revising material, and editing their own work
  • Incorporating graphs, spreadsheets, and graphics
  • Learning about writing styles using MLA and The Chicago Manual style  
  • Expanding their knowledge of grammar and sentence structure
  • Learning about citations and footnotes

Putting it to Good Use

As your children learn these various writing skills and techniques, they’ll start putting their knowledge together and to good use. You’ll see it happen not only in their academic life, but also in their social life. Children constantly text and write emails. Once they enter the “real world,” that won’t stop. Texting and emailing business partners, management, co-workers, and customers is an everyday occurrence. And there’s nothing worse than sending an email to a boss or client with misspelled words and poor grammar.

Creating milestones like the ones above will help your students learn writing skills using a logical progression and build a strong writing foundation as they do that .