Help Writing Summaries: How to Help My Child Learn to Write a Summary

Writing summaries can be helpful if your child is having trouble keeping track of the plot. Summaries help students review what they've read and notice changes in the characters. Keep reading for tips on how to help your child write an effective summary.

Find available tutors

How to Write a Summary

Before your child begins to write a summary, go over a few basic rules. The author's name and the title of the work should always be included. Write objectively; summaries are not the place to include personal opinions about the story. Finally, be concise. Avoid excessive details, and only write down the most important parts of the story.

Draw a Picture

Some students are visual learners. They can picture what happened in a story but may have difficulty putting it into words. If this is the case for your child, have him draw a cartoon depicting the events. Then, have him write captions explaining each picture. Eventually, with enough practice, your child may be able to picture the events in his head (rather than drawing them) and just write the summary.

Tell Backs

Sometimes, the text is too long for children to remember everything that's happened from beginning to end. Have your child stop frequently while reading and review what she's read so far. Depending on how difficult the text is, she may need to stop every five pages. She can retell what's happened aloud to you or silently to herself. The key is to review the material frequently. Then, because of all the review she's been doing, she'll be able to write an effective summary.


Have your child tell you what happened in the story. Write down exactly what your child says, and then read it back to him. Some students are able to verbally summarize a text, but lose track of what to say when they put pencil to paper. Practicing this way, your child will experience how speaking can be translated to writing. It can also help to relieve anxiety he might feel about writing.

Main Events

Some students have difficulty deciphering between details and main events, which are the most important events that happen in a story. To practice, challenge your child to retell the story in as few words as possible, which will force her to think about only the most important events. In addition, have her make a list of the main events while reading. That way, when she has to write a summary, she'll have an outline to refer to.

Use the Text

Summaries are not meant to test your child's memory; they're meant to reinforce comprehension. As a result, let your child refer to the text when he's writing. Chapter titles, pictures and key phrases may spark his memory. Referring to the text will also ensure that the summary is accurate.

Did you find this useful? If so, please let others know!

Other Articles You May Be Interested In

  • More Blog Articles
    Is Less Writing a Good Thing for Your Student?

    Everywhere you look there seems to be some sort of educational reform being proposed, implemented or suggested. In many cases reform is intended to be for the better, but a recent bill being sponsored in Washington state calls for doing away with statewide writing assessments. Is less writing necessarily a good thing?

  • More Blog Articles
    Reading, Writing and Raising Hens?

    Your child may have no intention of becoming a farmer. Perhaps even having a garden as an adult is unlikely. Still, as students around the country are learning, when schools add farming to the school day, students benefit in numerous ways.

We Found 7 Tutors You Might Be Interested In

Huntington Learning

  • What Huntington Learning offers:
  • Online and in-center tutoring
  • One on one tutoring
  • Every Huntington tutor is certified and trained extensively on the most effective teaching methods
In-Center and Online


  • What K12 offers:
  • Online tutoring
  • Has a strong and effective partnership with public and private schools
  • AdvancED-accredited corporation meeting the highest standards of educational management
Online Only

Kaplan Kids

  • What Kaplan Kids offers:
  • Online tutoring
  • Customized learning plans
  • Real-Time Progress Reports track your child's progress
Online Only


  • What Kumon offers:
  • In-center tutoring
  • Individualized programs for your child
  • Helps your child develop the skills and study habits needed to improve their academic performance
In-Center and Online

Sylvan Learning

  • What Sylvan Learning offers:
  • Online and in-center tutoring
  • Sylvan tutors are certified teachers who provide personalized instruction
  • Regular assessment and progress reports
In-Home, In-Center and Online

Tutor Doctor

  • What Tutor Doctor offers:
  • In-Home tutoring
  • One on one attention by the tutor
  • Develops personlized programs by working with your child's existing homework
In-Home Only


  • What TutorVista offers:
  • Online tutoring
  • Student works one-on-one with a professional tutor
  • Using the virtual whiteboard workspace to share problems, solutions and explanations
Online Only

Our Commitment to You

  • Free Help from Teachers

  • Free Learning Materials

  • Helping Disadvantaged Youth