Some simple ways to improve children's understanding of grammar

Jul 2012
Follow these tips to help your child improve their grammar.

Children use grammar as part of their daily learning and may not even be aware when they are using paragraphs or adding verbs to their sentences. Grammar is a broad term that has many facets, including sentence construction, tenses and much more.

Here are some simple ways that parents can support children's understanding of grammar.

Sentence Structure
Sentence structure can vary and it can be difficult to explain syntax in terms of prepositions, nouns, verbs, adjectives etc.

There are several games that can help children gain a better understanding of where words are placed within a sentence, such as the ones below:
  • Find the right word to fit the sentence: David _cartoons (walks, sleeps, eats, drinks ,likes)
  • Sentence substitution: The girl enjoyed eating chocolate (use the following words to change the sentence in one way: man, hated, melting)

Children can practice writing one sentence using a variety of tenses, such as the examples below:
  • He is playing in the park (Present)
  • This morning, he played in the park (Past) or He went to the park and played all day
  • He would like to play in the park (Future)

They can also familiarise themselves with spelling rules related to tenses such adding 'ing' or 'ed' to the end of the base verb, and some of the exceptions to this rule:
  • work > working > worked
  • play > playing > played
  • open > opening > opened

Work together with children to create child-friendly definitions of the following elements of punctuation, amongst others:
  • Full stop: Put at the end of sentences.
  • Exclamation marks: Adds emphasis to a word (wow!) or phrase (it was terrible!)
  • Commas: Mainly used in lists (apples, bananas and pears) or two separate clauses (Mary walked to the party, but she was unable to walk home)

Classes of Words
Again children can write a sentence to explain each class of word such as the following:

Noun: A word like table, dog, teacher, England etc. A noun is the name of an object, concept, person or place. A "concrete noun" is something you can see or touch, like a person or car. An "abstract noun" is something that you cannot see or touch, like a decision or happiness.