SchoolFamily Voices

Connie McCarthy is passionate about her work as a teacher of young children. She has devoted her entire career to making sure that her students do well at school, right from the start. Connie has an undergraduate degree in Elementary Education, and a Master’s Degree in Special Education. She has been teaching first grade in East Providence, R.I. for 23 years, where she received the distinction of “Highly Qualified Teacher” by the Rhode Island State Board of Regents. Connie also taught nursery school for four years, and published numerous articles on early education in East Bay Newspapers in Bristol, R.I. She’s also been published in PTO Today Magazine. She lives with her husband, Brian, and has a daughter and a son, both young adults. Connie enjoys reading, writing about elementary education, and taking long walks with friends. During summer vacations, she likes to travel with her husband. She also loves reading readers’ comments on her weekly blog posts.

Let Young Students Make Lots of Mistakes!

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 Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new. 

—Albert Einstein


Taking academic risks and making mistakes are both essential to learning.

Recently, in my 1st grade class, we were working on math word problems and correcting them together.

 All of a sudden one of my students burst into tears.


“What’s wrong?”  I asked.

“I made a mistake,” he answered through his sobs.

“That’s OK” I said, “Don’t worry. Making mistakes in our classroom is a very good thing!”

He cheered up, and I realized we’d had a unique “teachable moment!” I stopped the math lesson and asked the class, “Why do you think your pencils have erasers on them?”

“So we can fix what we mess up?” one student offered.

“Raise your hand if you’ve never used an eraser” I then said. No hands went up. “I’m so glad” I said. “Making mistakes is how we learn!  If you never make mistakes, then you are not learning!”

Everyone makes mistakes—that’s part of life. Making mistakes is usually not the problem; it’s what you do about the mistake that’s important.

So, the next time your young child makes a mistake, you, too, can turn it into a “teachable moment.” Let your child know that “experience” is all about recognizing your mistakes. Using that recognition to avoid making the same mistake again is more than just an academic lesson—it’s a life lesson!




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