I want to encourage everyone to avoid underestimating the value of feedback in learning anything (especially writing). It is so important that you can simply rest on the fact that without feedback there is no learning. Imagine a golfer NEVER KNOWING where his shot lands, or never hearing a putt go in the hole. Learning the sport becomes impossible. Public speakers almost always improve if they have folks critiquing them (or can watch themselves on video). A singer cannot possibly stay on key (or improve) if she NEVER HEARS her voice or the other instruments. These are all FEEDBACK mechanisms.
Now, since writing is about the scariest thing anyone can do (it is permanent…written…can be passed along), we rarely seek feedback without some significant growing up! Since we are educating our kids, we can just baste (cooking definition) them with it anyway! But, you must do it right (or, at least, right enough).
We have video training for giving feedback in the unique way we’ve designed (for grammar, punctuation, spelling, creativity, etc.), but let me tell you the essentials:
1. Use a RED PEN to mark things your student should improve (correct)
2. Use a GREEN PEN to mark things your student should do more of (encouragement)
3. When making suggestions use these exact words, “Does this sound better?”
4. Don’t overwhelm — Instead, please focus on one or two things at a time until mastered (example: Just work on capitalizing the first word in a sentence if that’s an issue).
P.S. Here’s where to learn more about us: www.advanced-writing-resources.com
From my book…The Absolute Quickest Way to Help Your Child Change I have a problem with being consistent, and sometimes it’s just because I am too tired. How can I overcome this problem?
Inconsistency and tiredness are usually a sign that your child or children are somewhat “out of control.” I don’t mean that we as parents don’t get tired, but if the state is constant exhaustion, then something surely is wrong. Consistency usually comes when both parents participate in the child training process. With both parents, you are able to keep one another encouraged and accountable. Usually, the problem of staying consistent comes from a parent who is too consumed with meeting the child’s needs and making sure the child “likes” him or her. One of my professors at Dallas Theological Seminary, Dr. Howard Hendricks, has often said,“When you do something for someone when he can do it for himself, then you make an emotional cripple of him: Chances are, unfortunately, that if you are inconsistent, you are somehow being encouraged to be inconsistent and the real learning you (and they) need isn’t happening.
Remember, if you see it, it is encouraged. The best idea I have for consistency is for you to take the Four Magic Questions and apply them to your inconsistency. You may find a very simple solution such as telling your children that every time they get you to do something for them that they can do themselves, you will give them a dollar bill. I suspect, unless you think so little of money, that you will change your consistency problem rapidly.
So…what are your thoughts on Consistency?
Weekly I get a note or a question that sounds like one I received today, “Biggest challenge—being able to correct my student’s writing myself. I know what sounds good, but I am not a writer.” What great honesty, and how common it feels to all who don’t see themselves as writers. If you know what sounds good you are about 80% there already.
Of course, my conviction is that most of the punctuation and grammar training is killer our joy and effectiveness in writing. I feel, sometimes, I’m on a one-man-mission to help people return to the love of writing [you can see my rant against grammar in the article called Why Studying Grammar Hurts Writing].
As a parent you have great motives and surprisingly wonderful insight on your child and his or her writing. Frankly, you taught them to speak…not too shabby for just hanging around and discussing what’s for supper and why the neighbors don’t like you!
Here’s what you can do about correcting a child’s writing:
Well, that’s the idea. You have so much to offer…but really, it is when your child starts correcting him or herself that everything jumps to a new level. In the meantime, you are far more helpful than you think. We even have our own children grade each other from time to time (it’s that helpful)!
Hope this helps,