Teaching Tips a Guide to Basic Punctuation

If you are teaching children literacy skills, then one of the most important elements of these is punctuation. For a student’s work to make sense when it is read then they will need at least a basic understanding of what the different types of punctuation are and when it is the appropriate time to use them. There are many different tricks and techniques that can be utilized to help children to learn the basics of punctuation. Here are some tips on how to do this.

Identifying punctuation

The first and most important step of all is ensuring that the children can correctly identify each of the different punctuations. This means that they can not only name them on sight, but also that they can explain when that particular punctuation should be used within a sentence. The simplest way of doing this is to show them one punctuation mark at a time, name it and then explain it. You can then recap with the class. Next, show the class each of the punctuation marks in turn and get them to name them and explain them. It may take several sessions for all members of the class to be able to complete this activity successfully.


Younger children can often learn about punctuation better if they can associate characters and stories with each of the punctuation. This will capture their imagination, make the lessons more interesting and help them to retain the information.


Another interesting teaching technique that can help children to remember the different uses of punctuation is to include movement, such as a punching motion for a full stop. You can then flash up the different punctuation on a white board and the children can act out the different movements to create a ‘punctuation dance’.


When teaching children about punctuation, it is essential to reinforce the information with the use of written examples. Children should have the opportunity to complete a number of written tasks that involve inserting punctuation into the correct places, writing their own sentences with specific punctuation included and spotting when punctuation has been used incorrectly.

Use group work and ICT

Children are all individuals and work in different ways. Some benefit more from one type of activity while others benefit from learning in different ways. Therefore, it is important to use a mix of different types of activities to account for all learning styles. This should include group work and the use of ICT as these types of learning will benefit many students.

Punctuation is an essential literacy skill that will be important throughout life. As a teacher it is important that you teach these skills to students and ensure that that they have fully understood the name and use of each punctuation. There are various ways that this can be achieved including, reinforcement, varied activities, written examples, using group work and ICT and making the work more interesting through characterization and movement.