“Daddy look! The cat catched the mouses!”
How do I support my child’s grammar development?
Children are learning language at a fast rate and correcting them all the time can impact their willingness to communicate.
Some common grammatical errors that students that make can be easily corrected in conversation:
- ‘is/are’ (e.g. “The girl walking;” The cat and dog is sleeping.”)
- Pronouns (e.g. he/she, her/his)
- Irregular past tense (e.g. ‘goed’ for ‘went’)*
- Irregular plurals (e.g. mouses, childrens)**
Any interaction you have can be an opportunity to support your child.
Modelling the correct way of saying something is also very helpful for children to hear the correct grammar several times.
Adult: We ran all the way to school today. Usually, we walk but today we were late, so we ran.”
Rather than telling your child how NOT to say something or telling them they’re wrong, try recasting. It’s a friendlier way of correcting them without stopping the flow of their message or story.
Recasting is a form of modelling. Repeat what your child has said but use the correct grammar. Child: “The kids is running.”
Adult: “Yes the kids ARE running. They’re having a great time.”
Child: “He is hiding on the table.”
Adult: “He’s hiding UNDER the table isn’t he. What’s going to happen next?”
If you speak languages other than English at home and don’t feel comfortable using English grammar, don’t worry! Just keep talking to your child in your native tongue as the grammar structures they learn will have a carry-over effect to English as well. They will have opportunities to hear and learn the correct English grammar at school.
*Using the -ed ending is a positive sign in the child’s language development as it shows they understand that -ed represents past tense. Recast their sentence to show them the correct way.
**Overusing plural ‘s’ ending also shows the child’s understanding of English grammar and the opportunity should be used to explain that some words do not have ‘s’ endings when you talk about “many” for example, fish, sheep, feet, teeth etc.
Cleave, P.L, Becker, S.D, Curran, M.K, Owen Van Horne, A.J, Fey, M.E. (2015) The Efficacy of Recasts in Language Intervention: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. https://doi.org/10.1044/2015_AJSLP-14-0105