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Giving Effective Feedback to Pre-K Students

By The Room 241 Team November 23, 2012

As a teacher of young children, it is vital to understand how to communicate with them and give essential feedback in a positive and constructive way. It is common knowledge that praise and encouragement are high motivators to help children respond the way we want. It builds confidence, self-worth and helps them grow in the knowledge of what is right and wrong, as well as making positive choices about their behavior.

In a classroom of Pre-K students, creating motivation to receive effective feedback is critical. Below are a few suggestions on how best to give feedback to young children.

Expectation of success

All students, regardless of age, must be receptive to receiving instruction about whatever topics they are studying at the moment. This instruction must ensure a measure of success for each student so they may succeed at the project or assignment that follows.

Fear of failure often begins in early academic settings. This fear can turn into an expectation and can paralyze them even into adulthood. A mindful teacher will not create a cookie-cutter assignment without considering the varying levels of ability within the classroom. The students will feel safe with the feedback when they see it is directly tied to their performance and effort in class and with take-home assignments.

  • Give immediate feedback: “I’m returning this project you turned in yesterday.”
  • Don’t be sarcastic about their work: “What happened? Did your baby sister help you?”
  • Let the student revise an incorrect answer: “Why don’t you double-check that answer. Is there another way to do this?”
  • Use verbal and written feedback. Ask students to assess their work: “How do you think you did on this project?”
  • Be specific in your comments and suggest corrections: “I see you wrote the letter ‘B’. Now, try making those two humps touch the middle line and then the bottom line.”
  • Show improvement by comparing their progress with their own past performance.

Creating a community of learners

Humans are social beings and we seek out relationships with others and want to have camaraderie. Children are no different, even at the youngest levels of school age. The pre-K age group is in need of the warmth and acceptance of their peers as well as the adults in their lives. With assurance and positive responses to participation, these young children will grow and search for memberships in groups that accept them and have meaningful interactions with others.

  • Student interaction–For a classroom setting, effective feedback will be shown by making time for student interaction. This will give each child a chance to share their ideas in a group setting which teaches them how to listen and give opportunities to others to share their thoughts in a supportive and non-judgmental environment.
  • Family similarities–Compare their families at home with the relationships they will build with their classmates during the year.
  • Praise accomplishments–Working together in a group-setting requires complex relationships working together to create a cohesive presentation. Recognizing the work and effort of cooperation provides effective feedback that working together helps them meet their goals.
  • Foster attitudes of love and respect–Consistent circle time where the children greet each other in a meaningful way and listen and respond to each other’s news will create a feeling of community and family.
  • Time management–Allow time for students to share their accomplishments with their peers.

Creating a bulletin board where a student can share something personal and meaningful about his or her life will allow others to enjoy the successes and pleasures of others and provide support.

Value of learning

Children are required to go to school. But, at some point, their minds begin to wonder: “What am I getting out of it?” “Why do I have to be here?” Their motivation comes from assigning value to what they do. Effective feedback from their teacher can be that motivation. They will value their education.

Children are already curious about their world. To keep that inquisitive nature growing and maturing, teachers must encourage, nurture and find ways to connect what they are learning in the classroom to their lives outside of school. Effective feedback and value-feeding motivation will squelch rising dropout statistics in future.

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