V is also for…Verify

VVerify is quite a technical word but it means simply “check”.  And when you are working – at school, at college, or later when you’re at work – it’s really important to check what you have done.  Even if you are really concentrating on what you are writing, or the maths problem you’re working out, it’s easy to make little mistakes.

Everybody makes mistakes, there’s nothing wrong with that. But because everyone makes mistakes, we all need to check our work before we hand it in.  So after you finish each sentence in a piece of writing, look at it closely. Does it make sense?  Are all the words spelt correctly? Have you used the right punctuation, and made sure you have capital letters where they need to be?  At the end of your piece, read through the whole thing again to check that it makes sense and you’ve said everything you wanted to say.

When you’re doing a maths problem, keep checking that you haven’t misread the question, written the wrong number, put the decimal point in the wrong place, or made a little mistake somewhere in your calculations.

It sounds like a lot of extra work but it really doesn’t take that much more time. And, if you make a habit of checking your work as you go along, and again at the end, you’ll soon get better and quicker at doing it.  It’s amazing the difference that checking your work can make.

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M is also for … Mistakes

MEverybody makes mistakes.  I do, your parents do, your teachers do and I’m sure you do, too.  Of course, nobody likes making mistakes and they wish they hadn’t made them, but really they are nothing to be worried about or scared of.  That’s particularly important with mistakes in your school work.  Even if you carry on learning and studying your whole life, you’ll still make some.  What you need to do is understand why you made the mistakes and, most importantly, understand what you can do to avoid making the same mistakes in the future.  In other words, you have to learn from them!  So how do you do that?  Let’s take a look at the different kinds of mistakes you might make.

The easiest to understand and fix is a mistake you make because you weren’t concentrating.  That’s when you write the wrong word, spell an easy word wrong, put the wrong answer to a maths question you know the right answer to, or you haven’t read the question carefully.  I think all of us have made mistakes like that!  The way to fix them is simple – make sure you are always concentrating when you’re working.  It’s especially important with homework, because there are so many other things happening and that you could be doing at home.  But if you concentrate, the work is easier, you’ll get it finished faster and you make fewer mistakes.

The second kind of mistake is if you aren’t confident about things you’ve been taught or you haven’t answered that kind of question many times before.  The way to stop making these mistakes is to make sure you take time to learn the things your teacher asks you to (especially spellings and times tables!) and keep practicing what you’ve been doing in lessons.  That way, the information you need will be in your head and you’ll understand how to answer different types of question.

Another kind of mistake is if you wrote or said a wrong answer because you just don’t know the right one.  That’s OK – nobody can be expected to know everything!  Teachers prefer you to have a try than sit there silently or just write nothing.  And they will be able to tell you the right answer – you have to remember it for next time!

You’ve probably noticed that the solutions to all the mistakes so far are things that you need to do yourself.  But for some mistakes you need help.  That’s when you don’t know why you made the mistake, perhaps because you just didn’t understand the question or didn’t know how to find the right answer.  If you want to stop making this kind of mistake, you need to ask your teacher to explain it to you.  Don’t be embarrassed – asking for help means you want to do better and learn more and no teacher will mind you asking.

Mistakes are part of life, especially when you’re young and learning.  The important thing is not to feel bad about yourself but to think about what you can do to avoid making the same mistakes again and again.  Whether you can do it on your own or with help from your teacher, there is always a way to fix it.

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