Primary Punctuation - what parents need to know.
This Friday marks Punctuation Day, and we thought this might be a good excuse to share some ideas about WHY teaching punctuation is important, and some ideas about HOW to do it.
Punctuation is often the trickiest part of learning to write for children, possibly because it often isn't something you can 'see' or 'hear' as part of the spoken word.
However, as the meme below shows, using punctuation correctly is one of the most important ways that we can bring clarity and voice to our writing. Once simple comma can be the difference between a loving grandchild and a cannibalistic one!
As hard as it is for children to get their heads around the use of punctuation, it is often even harder for us as adults to explain it! This is because the rules of punctuation are not fixed - they change and grow along with language. One example that springs immediately to mind for me, a child of the eighties, is the use of an Oxford Comma (the final comma in a list), which we were taught not to use, but which these days is in common usage.
Here are some ways that we at My Primary Tutor try to help children to understand punctuation, and to begin to use it more fluently and flexibly as they get older.
Ask children to read their writing aloud.
Spotting missing punctuation - or extra punctuation is often difficult when scanning a text visually, but it can become much more apparent when reading it out loud. For younger children, for whom reading their writing back can be laborious, read their work to them, using their punctuation. They will quickly spot a full stop where there shouldn't be on - or one which is missing!
Say the sentence before they write it
This sounds very simple, but it's really effective, especially for younger children who are learning to use full stops.
Quite often a younger child will begin to use full stops by adding them to the end of each line. Having them say the full sentence out loud first, helps them to get an idea of what a sentence is - a full thought, demarcated by a capital letter at the beginning and a full stop at the end. If you're feeling really enthusiastic, add in some Kung Fu Punctuation as well (see below).
Kung Fu Punctuation is used widely in primary schools across the UK, and is very successful because it assigns physical actions and sounds to different punctuation marks. As we all know, children learn best when moving, so Kung Fu punctuation is perfect! Here is a link to the widely used actions - encourage your child to use them when saying their sentence out loud.
Collect bad or unclear punctuation when you're out an about!
This is such a fun game - reading shop signs around you and taking pictures of ones that are particularly awful - and of course, the children are learning as they do, not only why bad punctuation is to be avoided, but also what it looks like!
Here are some we love...
If your child needs support with improving their writing, get in touch! Our team of qualified primary tutors are waiting to help.