Compliments that Teach

This is one of my favorite things to write about because everyone loves a compliment! 

Teachers love their students. Students love compliments. So teachers should love compliments, right? 

I am not sure how many people use them to teach, but I have found them to be a powerful teaching tool. 

When I was reading How to Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish, I found their work on giving compliments eye-opening. The authors explain that parents should describe the child’s work rather than assign value. So instead of, “Wow- that is really good!” a parent might say, “I see that you really included a lot of detail in your project.” 

They also suggest that one should highlight new learning with the compliment. For instance, when I read my 4 year olds writing, which is a string of non-related letters, I try to notice new letters in her work and tell her that I notice her new additions. 

In education, a teacher can notice what a student has done well and name it for them. 

“I saw you included dialogue in your story. Wow! That is just what writers do when they tell a story.” 


“You really took time to use all different colors on your project. Artists use colors in different ways, so I appreciate that you are trying different combinations in your work!” 

Effort is valued- effort and approximations are what take people to the next levels of learning. Learning involves compliments, but it doesn’t always have to include a perfect product. 

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