What’s F.O.F. syndrome?

Okay, I made it up. But I’ve seen it countless times, and so have you. FOF syndrome is Fear of Failure.

FOF syndrome kicks in when we put something in front of our learners that’s just over the line: a little too difficult, visually overwhelming, confusing, etc.

The syndrome manifests as–you guessed it–noncompliance. In any form. Verbal, behavioral, or anything else the child can come up with.

so how do we avoid it?

Enter Pat Oelwein’s solution, formulated decades ago: Errorless Testing Techniques. You probably know it already, but I’ll give you a refresher and add an additional element that will help you teach your child without triggering FOF.

Here’s Pat’s recommendation; it particularly applies to teaching reading, but you can apply it in other areas as well.

Errorless Testing: in order of difficulty, we use matching, selecting, and naming.

Matching: word to word or picture to picture. Nothing more than that. No matching word to picture. That’s a different level.

Selecting: choosing the correct card when given a choice between 2 items; later, between 3 or 4 items.

Naming: correctly naming a word.

more help…prompts!

Another strategy that smooths the way to success is how we use prompts. Prompts are a critical partner to errorless testing. When the learner hesitates, we give prompts quickly to avoid FOF kicking in and knocking down our tower of blocks. One kick, and the teaching session is toast.

So prompts are essential, and you will quickly become successful if you’re not already. Depending on the child and the task, we use both physical and verbal prompts when we sense the child doesn’t know the correct response. For example, we might give the initial letter sound of a word, or tap the correct choice on the board. Prompts can be given subtly and on many different levels; the essential point is that prompts are given before FOF kicks in.

Here’s to eliminating FOF!



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