If you are a parent of a child in primary school, you will probably be becoming aware of the increased focus on grammar and punctuation contained in the new National Curriculum. Your child’s school may have provided information about the new English grammar, punctuation and spelling tests which Year 2 and Year 6 children will be taking next summer. Depending upon when and where you went to school, you may find the information coming from school (and the terminology being used by your child) challenging.

Whether you are bewildered by the terminology used or just want to know a little more to support your child, I hope you will find this blog useful. You can click on the Parent’s Start Page to link to information about different areas of grammar and punctuation. Alternatively, enter a term in the search bar or click on a word in the cloud of labels. If you have further queries, get in touch and I will try to help where I can. You can also follow me on Twitter @grammarpuss13.

Friday, 8 January 2016

Tense (past and present) in Year 2

Children in Year 2 are required to make the ‘correct choice and consistent use of present tense and past tense throughout writing’.

From the time your children started talking, they will increasingly use the correct tense in their speech.  Children pick this up naturally from interaction with others and you will have been helping them make the right choices.

When children start school, they will generally be using the present tense when talking about things that are happening at that moment and past tense for things that have already happened.  They will be learning to read words written in the present and past tenses as well.  However, in order to write, children will have to make choices about which words they use, rather than reading what someone else has written. 

In year 1, they will be taught that the suffix –ed creates a past tense.  It is at this point that we often see children making strange choices in their speech and writing.  For example, a child who has previously used the past tense ‘went’, may now start using ‘goed’ or ‘wented’.  This phase doesn’t usually last very long: parents and teachers will help children understand that some verbs are irregular and have a different past tense (not formed with the -ed suffix).

When learning about the present tense, one tricky area for children is the way the verb changes when the third person singular (he, she or it) are used: we need to add –s
  • I help                
  • You help
  • He/she/it helps  (This is the same whether we use a person’s name or a pronoun.)
  • We help
  • They help

In year 1, children will learn that, when the verb ends in sounds like /s/, /z/, /tch/, we need to add –es.
  • I fuss                
  • You fuss
  • He/she/it fusses  (This is the same whether we use a person’s name or a pronoun.)
  • We fuss
  • They fuss

In year 2, children add to this knowledge: if a verb ends in a consonant + y, e.g. fly, the y changes to an i and we add -es
  • I cry                
  • You cry
  • He/she/it cries  (This is the same whether we use a person’s name or a pronoun.)
  • We cry
  • They cry

The following activities will enable you to help your child develop their use of past and present tenses.
  1. Talk about verbs and their tenses when you notice them, either in reading or in the environment.  When reading stories, these will usually be written in the past tense, but information books and notices often use the present tense.  For example, a recipe book will use present tense verbs: stir the mixture; plant the seed, draw the outline.  Discuss these tenses with your child to consolidate their understanding that the past tense is used for things that have already happened and the present tense is for things that are happening now.
  2. Pronouns and verbs: sorting game
  3. Past and present tense card games 

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