One of the most powerful things you can do to any child, whether struggling to learn or not, is to give immediate feedback. This can obviously work for academics, but it also works well for behavior, eating habits, hygiene, or almost anything you choose to use it for.
Kids inherently want to please. Sometimes, they get so frustrated and lost that they lose track of how to do it. They forget the rules and need them explained again. They need and crave positive reinforcement.
Frustration can be avoided with immediate feedback.
It amazes me how poorly our education system is run. We don’t allow kids to make mistakes to begin with. Then, they are penalized for every mistake they make, whether it is academic or behavioral.
When students do make mistakes, they have to wait for the test or paper to get graded and returned before they can even register what mistake they made to begin with. They don’t have the opportunity to correct it, either. The time barrier alone stands as a giant obstacle, a monolith of failure.
It’s so easy to give immediate feedback. For starters, let kids grade their own papers. Gasps of horror abound…they might cheat.
Well, here’s a news flash. Even if they do cheat, at least they can connect the dots at what is expected of them. At least they can put the correct answer down and sear that into their brains instead of writing the wrong answer, then having to wait a week to find out what they did wrong. At least they don’t feel like holding a big LOSER “L” in the middle of their foreheads when yet another paper or test is returned to them with a failing grade.
I use specific feedback all the time.
“I like how you’re holding your pencil properly.”
“Thanks for going to the other room to cool down. I know how upset you were.”
“You forgot to carry the one to the tens column. Let’s practice that again.”
“Circle the cursive letter you think is the best.” Hey, it’s a fantastic idea to help kids give themselves feedback as well.
Think about it. Which works better?
“You sounded out those first five words correctly. That’s 100%, which makes you a rock star reader!”
Immediate feedback solves a lot of problems. It not only works on kids, it works on all of us. So start practicing immediate feedback on your child and sit back for the results you only dreamed of.