Teaching children English grammar can be a daunting task for two main reasons. First, there are so many nuances of the language for children to learn. Second, learning all of these rules can be boring. However, teaching English grammar can be done in an engaging way. If you have not read the book “Eats, Shoots and Leaves,” you should.
Expose your students to the proper use of English grammar. Children will internally develop many grammar rules on their own through exposure to the language. It’s your responsibility as the teacher to provide this exposure. This means always modeling proper grammar in your speech and writing. If you don’t want your students to make errors in subject-verb agreement, don’t make these errors yourself. Also, get your students reading as much as possible. Good writers do a lot of reading.
Teach grammar rules systematically. Exposure alone won’t teach all the grammar lessons children need to know. Perhaps you’ve heard of the whole language versus phonics debate. Most professionals agree that exemplary reading and writing instruction requires a balance of these two technique. However, don’t try to dole out too much information at one time. Instead, focus on one particular skill that you want your students to learn, and provide a mini-lesson teaching this skill. Your mini-lesson should introduce the grammar rule in question and give examples of its use. Once your students master the selected skill, move on to other topics.
Provide hands-on experience to help children master grammar rules. Provide your students with ample opportunities to write. Then, provide grammar-based feedback. Take your students’ writing level into account when providing feedback. For example, in a second-grade classroom, you will see many grammar and usage errors. Don’t mark up every mistake in red pen; it’s too discouraging for students. Instead, focus on the grammar rules you have specifically taught.
Give students opportunities to edit others’ work. Often, when students look at their own writing, they miss grammatical errors because as the writer, they know what they intended to say. Those same children can identify similar mistakes in others’ writing, however. To this end, have students peer review each others’ work. Also, editing worksheets provide opportunities for students to apply the grammar rules they have learned.