Explain When to Use Periods to Children

March 27, 2020
Just as we can't speak without stopping because we'd run out of air, we use periods to "breathe" while reading and writing. Kids are in a hurry to do things, but with periods, they will learn to take a breather.

Punctuation marks can be a real headache. Normally, we use them because they sound right, but we don’t know exactly why. Why a period and not a comma? As kids grow and learn how to write, they’ll also ask themselves this question. Therefore, we’re going to give you some tips on explaining when to use periods to children.

Children and punctuation

Everything we write is a reflection of what we say. When we talk, we take longer or shorter pauses to differentiate ideas and breathe. For written text, the same thing happens. If you don’t differentiate ideas, you won’t understand anything when you finish reading.

Why do we use periods?

“Imagine, for example, you have a paragraph like this, no periods just commas, because with commas you have a small pause, no time to stop, reading is much faster and thoughts start to pile up, but some people think it’s fine, but it’s actually not, especially for children, who start with simpler sentences of just a few words, if they read this text, they would only know one thing when they’re done reading, and that’s that they don’t understand anything.”

Explain When to Use Periods to Children

In fact, it’s even hard for adults to read that. Let’s see what it should look like:

“Imagine, for example, that you have a paragraph like this, with no periods and just commas. However, no matter how may commas there are, you don’t have time to stop. You read faster, and thoughts pile up. Some people think this is fine, but it’s actually not, especially for children. Children start with sentences of just a few words. Therefore, if they read this text, they would know only one thing when they’re done: they don’t understand anything.”

Much better now, right?

What types of periods are there?

As you can see in the example, there are two ways to use periods. In addition, depending on how complex the writing is, you might have to use both.

At first, kids write isolated sentences that always end with a period. When writing longer texts, they will use a period to mark the end of paragraphs.

Paragraphs are more complex structures that have ideas with a common theme. Therefore, there are more than one punctuation mark in sentences.

In the process of going from isolated sentences to texts with paragraphs, they learn connectors that start sentences to make it easier. In fact, one of the simplest exercises is to explain what you did throughout the day. This way, each action is a phrase that ends with a period and has a logical order.

How to explain when to use periods to kids

The easiest and most intuitive way to explain when to use periods to kids is to read aloudIf you point to where you are when reading to your child, he will follow along. This way, he will notice that you make a short stop at the commas and a longer one at periods.

Explain When to Use Periods to Children

Once kids understand the rhythm of reading, they’ll start to pay more attention to the words and punctuation marks. Then, when it’s their turn to write, like when they start writing words, they use periods by imitation.

It’s true that not everyone expresses themselves in the same ways, both for speaking and writing. However, everyone can work on them and improve. During the school years, they learn how to write with new punctuation marks, keywords and topics.

In addition, written exercises don’t just check if kids know the answer. They also check that they can express themselves. Therefore, in exercises there are usually reasoning questions so they can express their thoughts. Then, they’ll have to use punctuation properly.