Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Grammar Questions from the 5-year-old

Recently my Dolly started asking me questions about the English grammar.

I have never taught her anything about grammar rules, simply because I do not think it is necessary for preschoolers to learn them (just yet). 

Even when she gets to Primary school, I know she will get them very quickly with her strong foundation in English. It was the same with her brothers. There was no need to go through Grammar rules with them and they would be able to master Grammar by themselves up till Primary 4. In Primary 5, I only have to sit them down the night before English exams to revise the rules quickly. 

But it was interesting to me, as an educator, to reflect on her interest and why and how her interest was sparked. 

Her first question was actually, "Is 'her' a past tense of 'she'? 

The question was not related to anything we were discussing just minutes before. It just came out of the blue, which showed that she was reflecting. I always love such moments!  

I wondered where she learnt the term 'past tense' from and had initally thought she might have learnt it from school. But no, it wasn't the case. She just heard the boys talking about this a few nights ago, but she did not have a chance to ask me earlier.

I explained. More questions from her, all the way to school. 

That day, straight after school, she asked  if 'these' is the past tense of 'this'. Ahh... more grammar questions, I beamed with pride. I explained again. 

5 minutes later, she ran into the room and asked, "So does this mean that... 

'flew' is the past tense of 'fly' and 'flew' is spelled 'f-l-e-w' right? and... 

'ate' is the past tense of 'eat' and it is spelled 'a-t-e' and ...

'slept' is the past tense of 'sleep' etc etc... 

It went on for a full 5 minutes. We must have gone through nearly 20 verbs. For every word, she spelt it out without me even asking her to. 

To me, this is a classic example of another learning session that is purely child-led. The child is self-motivated and curious enough to lead the session and my role was the facilitator to encourage, inspire and guide her along her learning journey as she explores and discovers. But I always have a clear goal of the greater heights that I am nudging her towards. So I always challenge her along. Without her even realising, I am already accelerating her progress. 

Don't get me wrong though - I do not mean that learning should always be child-led. More on child-led learning and why I think it is misused too often in an older post HERE.

I do not think it is necessary to teach her Grammar rules but I spare no effort to build a strong foundation in the language since she was a wee toddler. Without the strong language foundation in the first place and the self-confidence, curiosity and resilience that I have worked hard to nurture in her all these years, this child-led session would not have happened effectively.

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