7 Tips for Teaching Kids Punctuation

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Are you teaching a child to read who, despite your efforts, seems unable to master the basics of punctuation?

To help your child develop the necessary skills, follow these 7 tips for teaching kids punctuation. They can be started practices once your child is able to smoothly read several connected sentences in a book regardless of the grade level of the content.

1. Select a book that your child can read easily.
At the outset, avoid stories. Stories tend to have lots of dialogue and the punctuation surrounding dialogue (such as quotation marks) can prove tricky to a beginner. Information-based material (biographies, news articles, science books on plants, rocks, etc.) is generally best.

2. Start with single sentences, but make sure that there is some variety in the punctuation (so that every sentence does not end in a period).
Make a copy of the sentence, but have it empty of capitals and punctuation (e.g., the man was walking in the snow). In addition, have the spacing of the words in your copy be different from the spacing of the words in the book (e.g., if, in the book, “walking” ends on one line and “in” starts on the next line, you can have “in” end on the line and “the” start the new line). Have several copies of your unpunctuated sentence available, each on a separate sheet of paper.

3. After telling your child that there is going to be a punctuation activity, ask him or her to read aloud the sentence in the book.
Then close the book, show the unpunctuated copy and have your child enter the necessary information.

4. If there is an error or omission, remove the paper away, telling your child that there was a mistake and you need to start again.
Do not tell your child what the error was. Simply show the original sentence again and repeat step 3.

5. Aim to do 5-6 sentences in a session.

6. You want to move beyond single sentences as quickly as possible.
Once your child is performing at about 80% correct with single sentences, move on to two sentences and carry it out in the same manner as above.

7. Once two sentences are managed effectively, move up to short paragraphs of three to four sentences.
Initially each paragraph should be dealt with separately. But as skill is gained, you can combine paragraphs. You ultimate goal is to have your child skilled in completing three sequenced paragraphs. At this level, he or she will have mastered the punctuation needed for any writing demanded in the curriculum and/or any extended writing he or she elects to do.

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