Practising Punctuation – how to improve your skills

Practising Punctuation – how to improve your skills

Sally Mangai

At LearnWell, we bring you resources in two ways: our Learning Designers team up with NZ teachers to create engaging, learner-centered content. We also collaborate with skilled authors like Lucy Pritchard. LearnWell's bestselling title by Lucy, The Punctuation Start Right Workbook is all about how to improve punctuation skills for both young and not-so-young learners.  Recently, we also published Lucy's My Creative Writing Start Right Workbook, which guides 9-13-year-olds in expanding and developing their creative writing skills. We love working with Lucy because she’s passionate about teaching essential skills and excels at crafting clear, effective learning materials that truly make a difference.


Hi Lucy, can you share some background on your journey in education and writing?

When I was ten years old, I regularly had creative ideas for how my teacher could run his lessons, but I thought it would be too rude to tell him! So, I decided to become a teacher, and my determination never wavered. I have taught in the Nelson region for 33 years, mainly at the intermediate level. My strengths were maths, writing, literature, drama, and badminton, and I thrived on preparing students for regional, national and international competitions.

I have always loved making my own resources, and in 2018 I had my first maths book published. Everything about the book writing process was enjoyable, and I caught the bug! I now have seven published books (maths x4, spelling, punctuation, and creative writing). I am currently enjoying writing two maths books.

At the end of last year, I made the career move from teacher to private tutor. I set up my own private tuition business, and I tutor 10–13-year-olds in maths and writing from my wee classroom (in my home). I love seeing my students engaged and happy as they accelerate their learning, with my dog, Feebee, happily lying at their feet.

Punctuation - should we still bother?

Your journey is very interesting! Your books help learners develop competency in important areas like how to improve punctuation skills. In today's world, where correct punctuation is often overlooked, do you still think it's still important?

Definitely! Punctuation is something the writer includes for the reader so that the reader can easily understand the writer’s message. When punctuation is missing or incorrect, the reader might find it difficult to read fluently and/or accurately.

Also, as we improve our writing, we improve our reading. If you can learn how to correctly use punctuation, you will be able to correctly comprehend punctuation.

We couldn't agree more. Tell us more about why The Punctuation Start Right Workbook is an important resource for learners, and why you were keen to help create it?  

I enjoy punctuation. Just like maths, there are rules that need to be followed. Once you have mastered the rules, your writing can include a variety of punctuation marks, and this can make sentences more interesting for the reader. The Punctuation Start Right Workbook is an important resource for children (and adults) because the learner can feel confident in the fact that they are practising accurate rules that they can later include in their own writing.



Engaging learners

Writing is so important, and a key part of the curriculum from an early age. How does The Punctuation Start Right Workbook engage young learners?  

New Zealand is wonderfully multicultural, so I included names from around the world in the exercises. I also incorporated some Māori cultural practices such as kapa haka and kowhaiwhai. I thank Learnwell for bringing my book to life by including eye-catching images.

Also, many learners enjoy the comfort of routines. Every lesson is set out the same way: rule/s, two examples, ten exercises, and ‘create your own’. Answers are provided so that progress can be monitored.

That's great to hear, we know how consistency really helps learners. What age range is the workbook suitable for, and how does it cater to different learning styles?

The Punctuation Start Right Workbook starts with basic punctuation, and it moves through to more complex punctuation – therefore it caters for all ages – including adults. Learners can work through the whole workbook lesson by lesson, or they can choose the lessons that best suit their needs.

The workbook can also be used as a reference book for writers, so that they can check that they have used a type of punctuation correctly in their own writing. Sometimes, I even use it for this purpose!

How to improve punctuation skills

It certainly is a useful reference guide, and endures well past the time the activities are completed! Are there any specific strategies or tips you recommend for parents or teachers to help them with how to improve punctuation skills?

Since LearnWell sells The Punctuation Start Right Workbook for a discount when five or more copies are ordered, I think schools could buy the workbooks in bulk for their students to use over two or three years. As the students become more proficient with their use of punctuation, they can gradually practise less common types of punctuation.

For homeschooled students, I recommend they complete one lesson a week/fortnight, using the rule/s and examples to guide their learning.

From my teaching experience, some students struggle to correctly place capitals and full stops (for a variety of reasons), and therefore they have the same punctuation goal month after month. To engage these students with their punctuation learning, you can introduce them to ‘harder’ types of punctuation, and the capitals and full stops might naturally fall into place.

We agree that this workbook is a great option for many different contexts.  How does The Punctuation Start Right Workbook align with the New Zealand curriculum standards?

It aligns with New Zealand English curriculum levels 2–4. Punctuation helps the writer and the reader.

I can do it!

Have you had any specific feedback from users of the resource about how they have found the resource?

Yes! The Punctuation Start Right Workbook has regularly been the top online seller in LearnWell's web store. Yay! Also, many teachers have told me that they enjoy adding a punctuation lesson once a week into their programmes. The teachers feel excited and proud when they see their students start to use the various types of punctuation in their own writing.

Thanks Lucy.  In closing, what do you hope young learners take away from using your workbook?

The ‘I can do it’ feeling.


We hope that everyone using our resources comes away with a sense of accomplishment and confidence. If you’re looking to improve your child's punctuation skills, 'The Punctuation Start Right Workbook' is the perfect tool. We've loved collaborating with Lucy and are excited to celebrate her new release, 'My Creative Writing Start Right Workbook'. Thank you, Lucy, for your dedication and energy. Haere whakamua!

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