Good grammar is a game changer in any scenario. It allows your child to convey his intended meaning, thereby increasing his self-esteem, confidence and respect from others. On the other hand, poor grammar is annoying to the listener and can make a dent in your child’s perceived personality.
Many parents find their child’s grammar mistakes amusing and laugh. This encourages the child to repeat the mistakes, as he finds it entertaining. Subconsciously, his brain records and reinforces the repetition and makes the mistake a part of his learning. This can be a blow to him later on as he has to unlearn the mistake before he learns to use the language correctly. With this danger in mind, it’s never too early to start teaching him correct grammar.
How you teach your child grammar can cause either boredom or attentiveness. Grammar games are a sure-fire way to make language use and forms enjoyable and easy for him to grasp. These games induce an increase in his brain’s ability to learn and remember the lesson. They also prompt him to be inquisitive and eager to explore the study of grammar with gusto.
Although the Internet is brimming with games to teach grammar, be bold and create games for your child based on time, interest and available supplies. Detailed below are some samples for you to follow. These can be used to teach your child in individual sessions or can include her friends when they come over for a play-date.
Like the name of the game implies it makes learning plurals a breeze!
1) You will need: At least 5 containers (paper cups, coloured boxes or pencil holders), labels, a marker pen and 25 strips of paper of a width of 1 inch each.
2) Place the open containers in front of your child and label each container with one of the following plural suffixes: ‘-s’, ‘-es’, ‘-ies’, ‘-ves’ and ‘No Change’. If she is old enough to learn irregular plurals, you may add a few more containers and label them ‘-en’, ‘-eet’, ‘-eeth’, ‘-a’, etc. Use simpler nouns for children aged five and below.
3) Write the singular form of a word, each on a separate strip of paper. Ensure that you have words correlating to each plural suffix label. For example, the word ‘knife’ would correlate to the container labeled ‘-ves’. Add pictures to the strips if she is in primary school or younger.
4) Now, ask her to read each word aloud and state its plural form before putting it in the container it belongs in.
This is a simple game of matching sentences with appropriate punctuation marks.
1) List sentences without the required punctuation marks on a chart, black-board or white-board.
2) Ask your child to insert the appropriate punctuations within and at the end of each sentence. Increase the complexity of the sentences based on his age and knowledge of English.
Verbs or Action Words are easier to add to his register of words if your child can act them out.
1) Tell him a part of a sentence that involves an action. For instance, “I am listening to music.” As you say this, perform an action to suggest the meaning of the verb in the sentence. Here you may cup one of your ears.
2) He needs to repeat what you have said and add an action to it as a continuation of the sentence. He could say, “I am listening to music as I brush my teeth.” Ask him to make actions to suggest the verbs he says.
3) It’s now your turn and you might add (with relevant actions), “I am listening to music as I brush my teeth while I’m waving to my neighbour through the window.”
4) Take turns until one of you forgets a part of the sentence and then start a new sentence.
Word Order will no longer terrify your child, especially if her native language isn’t English.
1) You will need: Paper, newspaper, magazines, scissors, a marker pen and small covers (envelopes, Ziploc bags or pouches).
2) Write down sentences or cut short sentences out from a magazine or newspaper.
3) Cut the paper to separate the words from each other and put the words of each sentence in a separate cover.
4) Time her as she puts the words in order to complete each sentence.
5) Increase the complexity of the sentence based on her age and knowledge. Use large letters and coloured paper for smaller children to make it more interesting.
Blind Man’s preposition
Based on the popular Blind Man’s Buff, this activity is a hands-on way for her to practise prepositions.
1) You will need: a blindfold and a medium-sized soft toy.
2) Clear the room of breakable objects and pad sharp edges.
3) Ask her to blindfold you.
4) Tell her to place the soft toy somewhere in the room.
5) She must now instruct you using prepositions like under, on, behind, in front of, etc., to help you find the soft toy.
Using these games and others like these will make the learning of grammar easy for your child. It will be useful as a means to revise what he has learnt at school too. He will be inspired to try new grammar possibilities on his own. The originality of his use of English will also improve. Other bonus points you can expect are less laziness and the expending of energy.
Hannah S Mathew is a freelance teacher, trainer and certified diagnostic counsellor.