Saturday, December 12, 2009

Control of Error

I cannot imagine how children feel when parents or teachers constantly point out their mistakes. It must be both frustrating and irritating to live in a state of fear over making mistakes. It is very important that children feel comfortable making mistakes, so that they can push the boundaries of their skills. Parents should try to take on the philosophy that a mistake is simply an opportunity for learning.

If your child accidentally spills or breaks something, remain calm and show the child how to clean up. Then, show your child how to carry or use an object correctly to avoid future spills. You'll find that next time something spills, your child will know what to do immediately.

Another way to encourage learning opportunities is to allow your child to point out his own mistakes. Whenever possible, try to incorporate a self-checking system into the games that he plays. Montessori teachers call this a "control of error". For instance, after a child is finished using the smelling bottles, he might peek under the bottles to find matching colored circles.

When "writing" words with the movable alphabet and picture cards, a teacher might print the correct spelling on the back of the card for control of error. When your child is old enough, you can teach her how to check her work using a reference book.

When a child learns to check herself, she feels more in control of herself, feels more independent, and feels ready to take on tasks even when they look difficult. Teaching a child to judge her own efforts is much more valuable than teaching her to become dependent on others for judgement.

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