How much should I be correcting my child when learning something new?

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I had a parent ask me this about her young child who is just starting to write letters. It reminded me that a lot of Kindergarten and first grade parents have asked me this same question over the years.

The answer I gave to the parents is that if you correct too much, your child will shut down and not try to do anything academically unless he/she knows it will be correct. So, you have to pick and choose what to correct.

For example, for a four year old just learning to write letters, I told the parent to just let her child experiment with writing and not to correct anything except the letters in his name. Learning to write your name is important so it’s good if those letters are all made correctly. The other letters will be written correctly over time.

Older students will be doing a lot of writing in different subjects. I always told the kids that if they were writing in science, I wasn’t correcting their spelling, but I was correcting their science knowledge. If your child is doing a writing homework assignment, tell him/her that you are going to correct the spelling and grammar only tonight. Then, if it is a long term assignment, the next night tell your child you will be correcting sentence structure.

Correcting children as they learn is vital, but correcting too much can do more harm than good in the learning process.

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