2006-03-02 / Direct Answers

Answers From The Teacher

My daughter is constantly making careless errors on her homework assignments and class work. I hate seeing all the red marks on her paper. Although the teacher allows her to correct the mistakes, my daughter still loses points. Are there any proofreading hints that can help her?

Proofreading is often overlooked. Elementary school children are usually so happy to fill in the blanks or finish the required handout that they overlook the final step of proofreading. One way to proofread for misspelled words is to look over the paper from the end. There’s something about seeing a word out of its proper context that makes it seem more evident. Your daughter also may notice punctuation and grammar mistakes by reading the material out loud, or under her breath, if necessary, during quiet times at school.

Proofreading should be done slowly and word by word. It also helps if there can be a little time in between the completion of the writing stage and the proofreading step. If your daughter can take a quick break between assignments or rotate some assignments before taking a second look at her work, proofreading may be easier. Sometimes a little time away from the work can help her find a fresh perspective on what she’s written.

Making careless errors can become a habit. Try to focus on one area at a time. Is it possible to keep track of the errors and surprise her with a reward when you see a significant decline? Encourage her to pay attention to this final important step of proofreading.

My son is learning to read, so I’d like to keep track of the words he’s learning. Do you have any creative ideas about how to do that?

Try a word wall. Word walls post words which can be easily referred to from anywhere in the classroom. You may notice word walls in your son’s elementary school where teachers often keep word walls all year long. Sometimes classes keep separate word walls for different subjects or special projects.

You can find a wall in your home where you can post the words as your son learns them. Write one word on each index card and post them alphabetically. You might add words beneath each letter of the alphabet as he learns new reading vocabulary.

Word walls can be fun and helpful. Your son can refer to the word wall as he writes, or he can practice reading the words. You can use the word wall to play rhyming games or practice spelling the words aloud. If the word wall is centrally located, your son will see it often and become familiar with his new words.

You can begin a new word wall each September. Take down the old words and keep them on hand for a quick review. Add to your word wall through the year or just keep track of troublesome words. Either way, keep it fun for both you and your son.

Send questions to: Answers from the Teacher, P.O. Box 54, South Egremont, MA 01258. Questions may also be e-mailed to answersfromtheteacher@adelphia.net.

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