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Helping child understand punctuation

(21 Posts)
Cat2014 Tue 02-Dec-14 07:57:00

Ds is in year 2 and doing really well, apparently. But I'm a bit concerned because one of his targets since early in y1 has been to use punctuation in his writing. He just doesn't seem to get it though! He usually remembers a full stop but that's it. When he tries to use a comma it's in completely the wrong place and sometimes the full stops are too. I just don't know how to explain it to him! We've tried those exercise books from smiths and he seemed to get it at the time but clearly hasn't as he doesn't use them in his writing. School don't seem v concerned but I feel like he should have got it by now! Any tips please?

nonicknameseemsavailable Tue 02-Dec-14 13:52:16

does he reread his work when he has finished it? if you can get him to do that he will start to see how he NEEDS the punctuation for it to make sense.

Ferguson Tue 02-Dec-14 18:31:41

When you read with, or to, him try to point out how punctuation is used (if he doesn't get too annoyed by that).

I don't know where you would find it, but there are examples of a change in punctuation completely changing the meaning in sentences.

Lynne Truss has written entertaining books for children that explain similar concepts I think.

This might amuse, and help a bit?:

maizieD Tue 02-Dec-14 18:54:42

I always used to tell my, admitedly much older, children that punctuation was the clues which showed the reader how a text is meant to be read.

Have you tried reading his work to him exactly as he has punctuated it (e.g running sentences together with no change of tone/emphasis or stopping at misplaced full stop and starting next bit as if it were a new sentence etc.) and make it very boring and difficult to understand because you didn't have the 'clues' as to how he wanted it to sound. Then perhaps he could tell you what he needs where to make it make sense and sound more interesting.

I often wonder if some children never do quite grasp the 'point' of punctuation grin

I was caught on twitter this morning by a message which went something like this: "everyone who cares about children should read this devastating piece on sex abuse by a Bristol headteacher"

Some punctuation might have made it less ambiguous...

toomuchicecream Tue 02-Dec-14 19:15:09

When he reads his reading book to you, does he use the punctuation? If not, then that's why he's not using it in his writing - he doesn't see the point of it. Start with getting him to really use the punctuation when reading.

If he does use the punctuation when reading then he can (presumably) see the point of it but is just forgetting to use it. These are some of the strategies I've used with KS1 children to get them to include punctuation in their writing:
Use 2 coloured pencils for writing - each time you start a new sentence swap colour.
When the child has finished writing, give them a highlighter and ask them to mark all the FS & CL - if they've got it right they come in pairs. If they don't, then they know where to start looking! There is a whole group of children who include punctuation at the beginning and end, but forget it in the middle because they are so caught up in their writing. This method makes it really, really clear as there's a huge gap in the middle with no highlighter!
Get the child to read their writing to me. Each time they pause, ask them why there's no punctuation there!

Am interested to see what strategies other people use as this is an on-going problem in KS1 - your DS won't be the only child by a long way who is missing out punctuation. However, I'm in the middle of an on-going war with year 2 writers (particularly the very able ones) who miss out punctuation...

Cat2014 Tue 02-Dec-14 19:56:52

Thank you. Some really good ideas here and useful observations. He can use punctuation when reading but sometimes doesn't and then asks me to explain what he's just read, so that's definitely something to work on.

Ferguson Tue 02-Dec-14 22:39:19

Some useful ideas there; I should also have added that it usually does take a long time - several years - for a child to become competent and confident with punctuation. Eventually, it can become a powerful tool to enhance a piece of text.

"Eats, Shoots and Leaves" by Lynne Truss is very amusing and informative (if you don't know it already), and a newer one by her that I don't know, "The Girl's Like Spaghetti", is supposed to be a children's book.

Notcontent Tue 02-Dec-14 22:50:57

I think it takes time and reading definitely helps.

Lucyccfc Wed 03-Dec-14 09:53:06

My Nephew has a similar issue. He is great when reading, but completely forgets full stops when writing. I explained that the full stop was like taking a breath. So, when he reads, we get him to take a breath for a full stop. When he is doing his homework, we 'do' a breath to remind him about his full stop.

Once he for that concept - took about 2-3 weeks, we then used the same concept for comma's.

maizieD Wed 03-Dec-14 19:59:22

Oh dear. What have you done for apostrophes?

FobDodd Thu 04-Dec-14 17:19:56

MaizieD, is what Lucyccfc has suggested not right? It is the way my Y1 child has been taught at school. What should we be doing instead and why is the above wrong?

maizieD Thu 04-Dec-14 18:38:35

I was being nit picky.

'Commas' is a plural (i.e more than one comma). Plurals do not contain an apostrophe. And apostrophe is a 'clue' that the word possesses something or that it contains a missing letter or letters.

maizieD Thu 04-Dec-14 18:40:16

B*gger! 'An apostrophe', not 'and apostrophe' (serves me right for being nit picky, I suppose...)

FobDodd Thu 04-Dec-14 22:28:20


You see that was lost on me, I'm part of the swinging "get your thoughts down, create, create, create" generation. I've learnt more in the last year since dd started reception than I have in all my highly uneducated life.


FobbDodd's gin

Not FobDodds gin's.

maizieD Thu 04-Dec-14 22:34:42


And there's a third option; FobDodd's gins wink

Ferguson Thu 04-Dec-14 23:02:44

FobDodd - you might also find the Lynne Truss books amusing/informative!

MrsCakesPrecognition Thu 04-Dec-14 23:09:36

My children enjoyed reading The Puncs books. The stories are a bit clunky and tend towards jolly hockey sticks, but the DCs like them.
There's a website too

taeglas Thu 04-Dec-14 23:19:57

One idea you might like to try is sentence doctor.

Write a simple sentence that uses commas.
(I like apples, pears, grapes and strawberries.)
Explain why you used commas. Write a similar sentence leaving out commas and perhaps the full stop. Allow your child to put on a stethoscope and mend the sentence. The child uses a different colour pencil to correct the sentence. Repeat this activity several times.
Dictate a similar sentence for the child to write. The child then checks this sentence and mends where necessary. Next ask the child to write their own sentence and check as previously.
Repeat this activity using more than one sentence or emphasizing a different form of punctuation.

tshirtsuntan Thu 04-Dec-14 23:30:24

Google VCOP punctuation pyramid and twinkle or sparklebox for an extended literacy marking ladder.

FobDodd Fri 05-Dec-14 12:44:23

The girl's like spaghetti : why, you can't manage without apostrophes! / by Lynne Truss ; illustrated by Bonnie Timmons.
Author:Truss, Lynne.

This one Ferguson? I'll get it.

I can't be doing with the Panda Book, you need to understand grammar and punctuation to "get it" and I don't, so it's a bit lost on me.

I like sentance doctor.

And yes, always the Third Way...

maizieD Fri 05-Dec-14 19:53:44

Google VCOP punctuation pyramid and twinkle or sparklebox for an extended literacy marking ladder.

Please NOT Sparklebox.

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