Spotting careless mistakes in your child’s work is a common but frustrating occurrence for many parents, especially if these mistakes caused the child to lose out on valuable marks in an important assignment that is graded or during the examinations.
So, do we expect these careless mistakes to go away with more reminders such as “Be more careful with your work” or “Remember to double-check after you finish” (I’ve seen well-intentioned teachers repeatedly tell their students to ‘LOOK CAREFULLY’ but to no results) or should parents hold on to the hope that a child will grow out of this ‘habit’ when they grow up and become more matured and responsible for their learning?
Well….Maybe for some children all they need is a gentle reminder and for some they just really need a little more time. But, instead of adopting a passive approach of reminding when it happens or hoping for the best in the future; why not take an ACTIVE approach to nip this issue in the bud and empower the child to have the ability and keen-ness towards details and ‘subtle’ differences in his work.
This ability to see details and observe differences and similarities is one type of Cognitive Skill called Visual Discrimination. In school, children need to tap into this skill on a daily basis such as when they are reading words, copying from the board or learning spelling.
Using a simple passage to illustrate the use of Visual Discrimination:
Today, our teacher brought us to the dairy farm to see how cows are milked. I was really scared of the cows but my teacher told us cows are sacred animals in India. I’m going to write about the visit in my diary tonight.
**What can you notice about the words highlighted in red? (Answer: same letters, different order)
And, how about Visual Discrimination for the following Chinese words?
** Again, words written with almost the same strokes but just in different positions or different sides
Now, take a moment to think about how many such similar words there are in the English and Chinese Language (not forgetting there are still the subjects of Maths and Science) Hence it is not hard to imagine the immense amount of visual information (shapes, words, numbers, sentences) a child needs to discriminate on a daily basis.
Therefore, while we are equipping our children with content knowledge from textbooks; it is also vitally important to equip them with the right Cognitive Skills to pick up these knowledge.