We come to the test and exam season again. There is probably a loud collective sigh as we check our children’s papers – and see yet another careless mistake made that resulted in a “costly” deduction of scores.
I will honestly admit that I am one of the parents who get irked by careless mistakes made in test or exam papers. But we all make careless mistakes, even as adults. Mistakes can teach the child how not to repeat it, and they are opportunities to learn. Careless mistakes are part of that journey to get better at what we do.
What are Careless Mistakes?
Careless mistakes are made when there is a lack of attention or thought to avoiding errors. Errors can be made in the following way:
- Transfer and encoding errors: Copying numbers or words wrongly
- Misreading: Interpreting the question incorrectly due to misread information or details left out
- Test procedure errors: Missing and incomplete answers
What can parents and caregivers do to facilitate a more careful approach?
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5 Ways to Help Kids Tackle Careless Mistakes
Here are some tips to encourage our child to be more careful in their schoolwork and responsibilities.
1. Analyse the Errors your Child is Prone to Making
Assess your child’s mistakes and find out what kind of errors they are.
Perhaps it is mainly transfer and encoding errors such as missing a digit, interpreting numbers wrongly. Practise copywork and play games that encourage your child to look for the tiniest detail.
If it’s misreading and interpreting the question wrongly, practise reading passages or go through similar questions together. Ask your child what he or she thinks the question is asking for and how the answer should be obtained.
2. Encourage a Habit of Precision and Accuracy
Striving for accuracy is one of the habits encouraged in the “Habits of Mind“ approach. This approach encourages students to have learning dispositions that are beneficial. In the strive for accuracy, students should aim for excellent and check his or her work.
What is striving for accuracy? Working toward perfection, elegance, craftsmanship
Ask your child to ask these questions: “Making a list, checking it twice”, “Did I check my work?”, “Is this my best effort?”
Get your child to double-check.
And ask how did he or she feel about the work? Is your child proud of the work?
Start the process at home so it can become a good habit.
3. The Highlighter is your child’s BFF
Teach your child to highlight important details in the question – keywords, important numbers, unit measurements, goal of the question and clues that will help your child derive the answer.
This helps the child not to miss key information and forces him or her to read rather quickly the purpose of the question and the kind of answer that should be given. Using the highlighter could help reduce the number of careless errors as it draws attention to certain bits of the question.
4. Check, Check, Check
The method in checking the answer needs to be taught to the child.
Not just about filling in the blank, but getting it right means the steps taken to arrive at the answer have to be accurate. Re-do the working for math problems if possible, if not check the logic behind the answers.
Read the question again to see if the understanding is correct before proceeding with checking the steps and answers.
5. Correct Our Mindset and Our Words
As parents, we must have reminded our child not to be careless countless times. Perhaps we can focus on a positive mindset instead by reminding our child to be careful and specify the steps needed.
“Remember to be careful, let your highlighter help.”
“Give it your best shot. This means you have to try your best and be proud of your work.”
“We know you can be careful just like you were completing this assignment.”
Affirm always and support your child no matter what mistakes are made. Mistakes are part of the journey!