The giving and receiving of feedback is how we learn. At its simplest level a stand-up comedian will adapt his programme constantly to suit his audience with more of what they are clapping and cheering and less of what gets no reaction. We need to be a bit like the stand-up comedian and notice where we get a connection with our children when they do what we asked and being resourceful. When they are not we need to use feedback to get them back on track. We need to constantly be open and curious to what is working and getting a result, the result we want anyway! We are getting feedback from them and giving them feedback, it is a constant flow of energy and learning.
Many people feel that they learn more from their mistakes than from successes. In fact, apparently pupils who struggled with maths at school become excellent maths teachers because they understand how to get it wrong. As parents we can be inclined to jump in and do things for our children, take responsibility for organising them and their free time, even decide when and where homework should be done. Allowing children to take responsibility from an early age means that they will make mistakes and our job is to allow them to do that and let them get the learning so that the next time they do it, they do it better. Encourage them to be curious because that is how children learn, by wanting to know more and to understand rather than being told.
Feedback is how they learn whether that is feedback in terms of a bad mark at school or school report, losing a tennis match or football game, losing a friend, missing the miss, getting a detention for homework not completed correctly; these are all feedback from which they will learn how to improve and get a better result. When these sort of things happen to children let them get the feedback rather than believing that unless you tell them they won’t know.
When we aren’t introduced to feedback as learning we can find ourselves taking it as criticism and becoming defensive or we feel a failure and lose self-esteem. You can show your children how to respond to feedback by how you demonstrate it yourself. The best way to show them how to respond is to pause, be curious about the learning and thank the giver of the feedback.
Encourage children to give themselves feedback. We all, even children, have a nagging little inner voice that gets cross and tells us off but it needs to learn how to give feedback in a way that we can learn from it, not feel permanently stupid and lose confidence.
Here’s how to do it:
a)What specifically went well today? (3 things)
b)What could have been better? (1 thing)
c)How could I do that better next time?
d)Overall, what lessons have I learnt?