Technically speaking, there is no such thing as English grammar that’s just for kids. There are of course English grammar rules and there are a handful of rules that are suitable for children to know from an early age.
Let’s look at some very basic rules of English grammar that children should be familiar with:
- Sentence construction. When children start to learn the English language they may have trouble with correct sentence construction – especially if they already know another native language which has different structural norms to English. Educators need to correct children when they see these errors, because allowing the child to continue constructing sentences incorrectly will only reinforce the habit. This will eventually make it difficult for the child to construct sentences correctly in fast speech, even if he/she is able to correct it when writing. There are several ways sentences can be constructed – the idea here is to correct children when they speak or write grammatically incorrect sentences and not to force them to always write in a particular way. As children read books written by different authors with differing styles, they will eventually pick up a style of writing that suits them. For example, a child needs to learn that “He ran to the mall” and “To the mall, he ran” are both correct constructs. Educators should not “correct” the child because one sentence structure is more common place over the other.
- Capitalisation. When parents teach children the alphabet, they have to put equal focus on teaching both lower and upper case, because children need to know how to capitalise letters when they start to read and write. In other words, this means that children can only start to learn how to write if they know both the lower and upper case of all alphabets. This is again often a problem when the child already knows another native language that does not have upper and lower case characters – as the concept can now become confusing. The child must be taught when words need to be capitalised, but parents and educators do not have to force them to memorise anything. The children simply needs to be aware that such rules exist. As they read more and more content, they will eventually intuitively be able to understand when they need to capitalise a word and when they do not.
- Simple tenses. Although we tend to encourage children to pick up grammar rules intuitively from exposure to a large quantity of quality writing, simple tense is a concept that needs to be drilled in to children from a young age. This will enable children to recognise that several forms of the same word exist and each is used in different constructs. More importantly, it will also encourage children to proactively learn all the tense (past, present and future) variations of a word the first time they learn it. For example, a child must be taught that “walked, is walking and will walk” all describe the act of walking in a specific frame of time. Again, this might be challenging for children who know some other native language that has a different convention of tenses or none at all.
- The apostrophe “s”. This is a near legendary grammar rule that almost in itself serves as a milestone in learning the English language! We already have a long article dedicated to this very topic here, so we will not dive too much into it now.
There you have it! These 4 grammar rules are the absolute essential rules that we think any child needs to know when he/she is starts learning the English language. By knowing these rules, the child will undoubtedly pick up mastery of the language faster. Yet, memorising these rules will only help a little. Ultimately, a child has to gain a fluid and intuitive understanding of the English language in order to converse confidently without having to stop and think about whether what he/she is about to say is grammatically correct or not. The only way to attain this kind of mastery is to read high quality material and adopt parts of the styles of good authors. As educators and parents, the aim should be to give their children the exposure they need to build that mastery from as early an age as possible.
- This post is brought to you by the KidsEnglishCollege™ Editorial Team
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