The pitfalls of over correction―and why you probably shouldn’t

The beginning of a new school year is so exciting to us―it’s the opportunity to apply what you’ve learned (if you’ve been homeschooling for a while) but also to start fresh with a new mindset, method, and even curriculum! As you embark on this new school year, we’d also like to encourage you to adopt a new way of thinking about correcting your child during lesson time.

All too often, homeschool grownups fall into the trap of overcorrecting. (We know because we’ve been there!) But by constantly correcting your child when they make an academic mistake (or any mistake for that matter), you are emphasizing the right answer over exploration and courageously taking chances—and you’re probably sapping a lot of joy from your homeschool.

In fact, studies have shown that overcorrection can actually increase negative behavior and decrease a child’s ability to self-regulate, as well as negatively impact their self-confidence. Limiting our impulse to correct our child while they are working teaches them mistakes are a natural part of life, encourages them to be curious, and bolsters their self-esteem―all of which leads to less lesson resistance over time (and a lot more fun for both of you).

Try this approach:

  1. Make sure you’re setting aside enough time for lessons. While your intentional learning time doesn’t have to last hours, you want to make sure you’re including enough time in your block so that you don’t feel rushed―this will assure that you have plenty of time to praise and encourage effort instead of feeling hurried to get to the right answer so you can move on.
  2. Before beginning an activity where you would usually correct, like writing, remind your child about letters or mechanics that they have struggled with in the past. This can help your child to self-correct before they make a mistake.
  3. And speaking of self-correction…take a minute, observe, and wait. There will be times when your silence will allow your child the opportunity to self-correct. So, pause and wait and see if they are able to catch their own mistake. For example, when reading aloud to you, your child may read a word incorrectly. If you wait and allow them to read the complete sentence, even with the mistake, they will hear themselves read, likely notice that something didn’t sound right, and go back and figure out what went wrong. That self-correction is much more powerful (and memorable) than you correcting the error!
  4. If your child makes a mistake, gently point it out to them one time. If your child continues to make the same mistake…let it go! Make a mental note to work on this skill (or possibly strengthen the muscles associated with that skill) throughout the week and month.
  5. Make a special effort to call attention to the work your child has put in, praising something specific about their effort. (For example, “I noticed you were really patient with yourself in writing your numbers today. You must be so proud of your effort!”)

Taking this approach will enable you to prioritize effort over right answers, building confidence and fostering a love of learning throughout the year. It will also help you build on your parent-child relationship. We know that you are your child’s biggest cheerleader, and we are yours! Keep up the good work.

At the Learn + Live Letter, we not only provide unit study curriculum that is flexible and fun but also support parents and grownups teaching them along the way. Learn more about our program here and why we love unit studies here. We look forward to the opportunity to learn + live with you throughout your homeschool experience! Click here to learn more about our subscription options!

Published by The Learn + Live Letter

The Learn + Live Letter is a play- and project-based homeschool curriculum for children ages 3-12.