While “Good Job” is a nice thing to hear, there’s more power in zeroing in on specifics. Statements such as, “I noticed how you didn’t give up when that word stumped you. You did what good readers do and used a code-cracking strategy.”
Fostering an “I’m a good worker and can figure this out” attitude goes further than telling a kid they’re smart.
Everyone likes to feel like they have “say so” while no one likes to feel like they’re being forced. Sharing the power helps everyone win. Simple choices such as, “Do you want to read or write first today?”, “Which book shall we read?”, or “What kind of story do you want to write today?” go a long way in showing respect for a child’s opinion.
While treats or prizes sometimes have a place in helping kids access reinforcement, feelings of “I can do this!” are ultimately more powerful. The trick is breaking the task down into small enough bites that success is encountered frequently all along the way. Small victories such as getting the first sound or chunk of the word correct are celebrated instead of waiting for the whole elephant to be eaten. Each kiddo is scaffolded and supported at a personal level to allow enough challenge without making it overwhelming.
Kids love sharing the stories they write with an audience. There’s something about sharing writing that generates positive feedback and momentum.
Enthusiasm and Joy
Anytime learning is engaging and fun, it sticks better. Period.