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Grammar is the name given to our rules of language and how we structure it.  It’s the way words fit together and the way a slight change can give words a different meaning (e.g. ‘wash’ becomes ‘washed’ or ‘boot’ becomes ‘boots’).

If a young person is struggling with their grammar you may notice:

  • Their sentences don’t make sense, or can sound confusing
  • Errors in their written language that mirror their expressive language (the way we put words together and express meaning) or sometimes errors that are not present when they are speaking
  • They may sound immature compared to their peers when using:
    • Past irregular verbs (e.g. “I catched the bus yesterday ”)
    • Irregular plurals (e.g. “I saw some mouses”)
    • Pronouns (e.g. calling everyone ‘he’ or the incorrect use of his, her, their)
    • Connectives (e.g. and, but, until, however)
    • Passive tense (e.g. “the boy was pushed by the girl”)
  • They’re quiet or reluctant to talk

Online language development workshops

Our team run online workshops on early language development. They are designed for parents and carers and those working within early years settings. We have three training sessions available on different topics to equip you with everyday strategies to support your child, aged up to five. Find out more information and how to register here.

What teachers can do to help

  • If you’ve noticed a specific area of grammar that the student is finding difficult, talk through the rules with them and go through some examples
  • Try using ‘gap sheets’ to target specific issues. Gap sheets involve writing sentences with gaps – and a list of possible answers – and asking the young person to fill in the word or ending, such as “the teacher gave the book to …” (he/him/his)
  • Work together to identify what kind of learner they are and what might help them to remember the rules, particularly for their written work. Some young people respond well to having a ‘crib sheet’ within easy access that covers the rules and has some examples. This could go in the back of a planner/diary or an exercise book

How young people can help themselves

  • If you’re struggling to notice when you make errors, try asking a friend or teacher to let you know when it happens. This could be a hand gesture or a small sign that you both agree on
  • Work with your teacher or parents to identify where you’re struggling and come up with ways to remind yourself about the rules of grammar. This could be a ‘crib sheet’ or colour coding different parts of sentences