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The Importance of Feedback in Teaching Children to Write

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).

Blessings,

Fred Lybrand

P.S.  Here’s where to learn more about us: www.advanced-writing-resources.com

Want to Raise a Truth-Seeker? Aim to Have No Opinions!

Your child is growing up in a world of liars. It is mind-numbing how many people in the media and online are simply twisting the truth. It gets even worse around elections and wars. How do you help your students discern the truth AND love it as well?

It may seem a bit odd, but I have a personal aim of having no opinions and worked to instill this path in our kids. Of course, I can’t help it, I do have opinions (and lots of them); but I know of nothing that helps me more in the relentless pursuit of the truth than this approach.

Now, before you go haywire, understand that I’m a Bible-believing Christian who has been in the hot pursuit of truth for around 4 decades. Frankly, I don’t think the Bible is a book of opinions…instead, I’d say it’s a book of facts. If God wrote it, and He is right, then ‘facts’ is the right word.

Facts deal with what is true and what matches reality.
Opinions are about viewpoints not necessarily based on facts or knowledge.

The problem arises when we form an opinion and ARGUE about it like it’s a fact. I can tell you as one with a doctorate in Applied Theology, lots of my peers spend endless amounts of time and energy arguing their theories (theologies) as though they are facts.

When we learn to separate the two, we can start using amazing phrases like, “I could be wrong,” and “I don’t know, but I’d guess…” This adds humility and clarity to our lives because we aren’t over-dominating the communication. We also get better at pointing out facts, which people really have to (usually) agree with!

So, in parenting and education, my recommendation is to help establish this distinction so we can tone down the conflict and tune in to the truth. The opinions we have could have a good basis in logic and evidence, but until we KNOW…shouldn’t we just admit it’s our best guess for now as we seek the truth.

Frankly, this is the subtle side of John 8 where Jesus declares, “Know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.” It is freeing to me to know The Truth and lots of the facts on earth that are true.

Off to learn,

Dr. Fred Ray Lybrand

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