Making mistakes is a necessary part of learning. Here are some ways to correct your child yet keep them on the path of learning.
Less Is More
One skill that parents often fail at is how to correct young children. Too much correction and your child will stop trying and lose whatever ability they have already obtained. Too little correction and your child may not improve.
It’s a hard balance to find. You may think “How can my child learn if they aren’t corrected?”. So how much correction is enough?
Home isn’t school, and it shouldn’t feel like it. For children, school can be very stressful as they feel the pressure to perform. So don’t make them feel like they’re continually being tested, graded, and judged at home.
Build Up Their Confidence
How you correct your children will have an impact on how they learn. If you interrupt them to correct them, you might lower their self-confidence, and they’ll stop trying. It’s better to allow the error to slip past. Then once they’ve completed their thought and you’ve responded to it, you can then point out the language error.
For example, if your child says, “Yesterday, I go to school.” Avoid the temptation to stop them and correct them mid-sentence. Instead, after they’ve finished, say “Oh, so what did you study when you went to school?”
You’re doing two things with this type of correction. First, you’re modeling the correct form without doing so in an embarrassing way. Second, you’re giving your child a new task to focus on, so they don’t linger over the error (don’t emphasize ‘went’ when you reply, just let it be natural in the sentence. Your child will hear the difference).
A Way Forward
It is a good idea to create situations where you child can practice English. Make talking in English at the end of the day feel natural.
There are a number of ways to progress. Begin with asking questions about the past: How was your day? What did you learn today? Did you have fun? Did you see your friends? This can become a predictable routine, which is good for your children. If they know it’s coming, they can plan answers. Don’t correct mistakes, but when you reply, do so using the correct grammar.
Once you’ve done this routine for a while, change the routine by asking for opinions: Who is your best friend? Why? Who is your favourite teacher? Why? These questions will allow your child to experiment with English more. Practicing is the most important part.
Parents need to learn to be patient with mistakes, encourage speaking (along with reading and writing) so that their children will be as fearless in using English as they are in using their own first language.
To learn more about our Young learners programme for those aged 5 to 17, visit https://www.britishcouncil.my/english/courses-children