All children at KS1 and KS2 level are tested on their grammar skills as part of the SATs spelling and grammar test. In this article, we look at how you can help your child improve their skills in time for the test.
At KS2, your child will sit the English grammar, punctuation and spelling (SPaG) tests. This exam includes questions that assess the following:
Grammar –identify and write sentences that are grammatically correct
Punctuation –form sentences that are correctly punctuated
Vocabulary – demonstrate knowledge of when a word is used correctly
Spelling –spell words that are spoken aloud by the examiner
For your child to perform well in the SPaG test, they need to have a solid understanding of how the English language works. For that to happen, they must know grammatical rules.
Children sitting the SATs grammar test must have a good knowledge of grammatical terms such as adjectives, adverbs, verbs, nouns, passive voice, and sentence structure. They will also need to understand what connectives are and how they are used.
An effective way to ensure that your child understands these grammatical terms is to write a series of sentences that contain each of the terms. You can then ask your child to underline the word in the sentence that uses that particular part of speech. For example, in the following sentence, you may ask your child to underline the word or phrase that demonstrates passive voice:
The ball was thrown
For further practice of grammatical terminology, use SATs practice papers. They will familiarise your child with the types of grammatical questions that they might come up against. At Exam Papers Plus, all of our SATs practice papers are fully up-to-date to match the style of the new SATs exams.
Our resources include:
Sentence structure can be one of the most difficult aspects of the grammar test to grasp. One of the most effective ways of improving your child’s awareness of the different types of sentences that exist is to do ‘missing word’ exercises. Write out a few sentences and in each one, miss out a word. Ask your child to identify where in the sentence the word is missing and have them write in the correct word.
In the SATs grammar exam, sentence structure questions typically look like these:
Sentence substitution: The boy enjoyed eating bananas (use the following words to change the sentence in one way: girl, hated, chopping)
Find the right word to fit the sentence: Jane ____ lemonade (choose from jumps, eats, throws, drinks)
The more practice your child gets in answering these types of questions, the easier time they will have on exam day.
Word games are a hugely effective way of expanding children’s vocabulary and improving their ability to put sentences together correctly. Consider playing the game ‘Not Just’, which involves using additional adjectives after saying ‘I’m not just…’, for example:
“I’m not just tired, I’m exhausted”
“I’m not just happy, I’m joyful”
Once you’ve said a sentence, get your child to repeat it or even to add to it if possible. Similarly, describing games can be fun, including the alphabet game that focuses on objects (nouns) and what they are doing (verbs), such as:
You can use these games when your child becomes tired or bored of their usual revision techniques. Children can have a lot of fun playing them with the family, so the games won’t feel like work.
You will know from experience that it only takes a few listens of a song before your child catches on and begins to hum or sing along. Singing together allows children to put together more and more words quickly. Rhyming helps children to use full sentences, improve their intonation and build their confidence.
The popular children’s song ‘If You’re Happy and You Know it, Clap Your Hands’ involves a difficult grammatical structure that would be difficult to teach through explanation. However, by listening to the song and following the words, children will begin to recognise the structure without getting anxious about it. Give it a try:
Don’t forget to use correct grammar when you speak to your children. By doing so, they will learn the patterns of the English language – and will be less likely to make mistakes. Children practice their grammar every day as part of their speech, but if your child struggles with particular terminology, or is unable to put sentences together correctly, they might need additional practice ahead of the SATs grammar test.
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