For most students, grammar in school is tedious and confusing. But good grammar has a significant impact on your child’s potential for success in the future. Bad grammar is like cursing: you don’t notice it when it’s not there, but it’s painfully obvious when it is.
While you don’t want to have to diagram a sentence with your child, you have an invaluable chance to make sure your child speaks properly. Don’t expect teachers to manage this on their own. You can make a big difference. If your child is having some problems in this area, here are some ideas to encourage good grammar.
Correct grammar mistakes immediately and without judgment. Bad grammar is a combination of ignorance and habit. Over time, your reminders will sink in, but it’s important to make your tone reminding rather than critical. It’s hard for a child, or anyone, to face corrective feedback, so keep your tone light. Also, don’t correct in front of friends or anyone other than immediate family. The goal is learning, not humiliation.
After a while, ask for the correct grammar, don’t give it. At first, it’s your job to provide the correct response, but over time your child will know the answer, so have them say it out loud. It will strengthen the lesson.
Explain why correct grammar is so important. Even the best ideas can get lost if the speaker distracts with bad grammar. It also damages credibility and is seen as evidence of lack of intelligence. It can also hold people back from opportunities they deserve. In school, good grammar can make the difference between good grades and mediocre ones.
Keep a grammar handbook handy. Strunk & White’s Elements of Style is a short classic that has virtually everything you need to check for proper grammar. It is available for less than $5.00 at any bookstore. Or you may want to browse the grammar books and help your child choose one that is appealing or understandable. You can also access grammar information online.
Written and spoken words can have power, or can compromise a person’s goals. Good grammar is more than a set of seemingly arbitrary rules; it provides a basic step in building strong communication skills.