We can take the plain and elevate it in a million ways. Finding something positive to say even when constructive criticism must follow elevates the interaction and leaves the person, the child, the adult more open to the constructive criticism.   

I look at a lot of student writing, and there are millions of mistakes.. spelling, words left out, incorrect tenses, run-on sentences, missing capitalization and punctuation…  However, I always read the story first (sometimes with their help) before saying anything.   

I want to elevate their expressive abilities first, followed by corrections second.


At my son’s 10th birthday, I decided it was no longer necessary to remind him to say “Please and thank-you”- because he had heard it for 8 years, and 8 years was enough for him to get it on his own.  So from about 2nd- 5th grade, it is not unreasonable to highlight the important habits of re-reading and editing one’s work… but be sure to elevate confidence with more than just criticism of mistakes. 

A compliment adds beautiful color to plain old cheese and crackers.



Contact me with Questions or Comments

Lori Sugarman, M.Ed.
Author of Plumdiggity! Developing Student Writers