I found this from the Catholic Heritage Curricula website and thought I’d post it.  Praise a great skill to bring into the classroom.  ~ William

Words of praise, indeed, are almost as necessary to warm a child into congenial life as acts of kindness and affection.  Judicious praise is to children what the sun is to flowers.   — Christian Bovee, 19th century English author

Can you guess which teaching tool is age-appropriate for all grades, takes no prep time, warms the heart, and doesn’t cost a nickel?  Good for you!  You guessed it!  It’s praise.

To be effective, praise should not be vague, but must be directed at a specific action or work.

‘What a good boy!’ is vague and ineffective praise.  ‘See what a good job you did, staying between the lines on your handwriting page!’ is specific.  The former is a ‘warm fuzzy’ alone; the latter is a ‘warm fuzzy’ with directions embedded: praise as a teaching tool.

For example, you might say, ‘See how you made this letter ‘o’ stay right between the lines?  This is your best one.  Do you see any others that are really well done, like this one?’  Rather than pointing out only the o’s that are too small or go above or below guidelines, this method of ‘teaching praise’ demonstrates to the child what the goal is, and also points out that he can do it.  Pointing out the positives is a way to point out the negatives without mentioning them specifically. [If the letters that touch the top and bottom line are best, then it follows that dinky or wandering letters aren’t the best.]

Ineffective praise lets the child know that you are happy with him, but without knowing exactly what he has done to please you.  Specific, effective praise not only lifts a dear little heart and brings a beaming smile to his face, but encourages him to continue his efforts, now that he understands what is expected.  ‘Oh, so that’s what it’s supposed to look like!  Hey, I really can do this.’

St. Philip Neri said, ‘If we wish to keep peace with our neighbor, we should never remind him of his natural defects.’  This advice works for children as well.  However, there are times when pointing out errors is unavoidable.  In these instances, offer the child a ‘praise sandwich’:   ‘Look at all these good letters, here and here and here.  Now, see how this one keeps wandering below the line?  I’ll bet you could bring this one up, just like the others.  See?  Here’s another one that is exactly right!  Way to go!’

‘Praise phrases’ are sincere and specific; they point out the positive rather than the negative.  ‘Beautiful work on your spelling test; you got 16 out of 20 right.  You are improving.’ is much better than the deflating, ‘You missed four this week.  I guess that’s better than missing six like you did last week.’

Some useful ‘praise phrases’ are:  ‘Good job on the———-‘  ‘Look at the nice work you did on—‘  ‘Wow!  Your—–just keeps getting better and better.’  ‘I like the way you are——–‘

Good use of teaching tools, Mom!

In Their Hearts,

Theresa Johnson