Wednesday, January 26, 2011

On Correcting Your Children's Texts To You.

My friend Stacey noted that she regularly corrected her children's grammar and spelling when they texted with her. She then asked her Followers who were mothers whether they practiced the same actions. Here is my conversation with Stacey:

(My questions in red, her replies in blue)

I noticed on Twitter last night, you asked mothers Following you whether or not they corrected their kid's grammar when texting. What kind of responses did you get?

Yes, I do that and I was wondering if other mothers do it as well. All of the responses from mothers with children who are old enough to text said that no, they do not correct them. One homeschooling mom said she added any mistakes to her child's spelling/vocab list to learn the next week, which I thought was a pretty good idea.

Were you surprised at the negative responses?

Yes, I was. Apparently, I'm the only mother I know who corrects spelling and grammar errors by text.

What were the reasons these mothers gave for not correcting their children's texts?

No one gave me a reason, except for one responder who thought correcting by text would annoy the children into not texting with her anymore.

Just so we're clear, what exactly do you correct in your kid's texts? Realize they use a lot of slang and "word shortcuts".

I don't mind the slang and the usual text abbreviations such as how r u?, thx, ttyl, etc. Using numbers for words, those kinds of shortcuts are normal for texting and I know everyone does that. What I correct is when the child clearly is misspelling a word or uses bad grammar, such as "Me and my friend are going to the store." I'll correct that before responding.

How have your children reacted to this instruction?

They send me a corrected text, sometimes with a "Sorry, mom"

Have they always reacted this way? Do they think such correction is unnecessary?

I have taught them to react this way. They understand that to get a reply from me, they'll need to type properly. I'll give you another example. I was at the grocery a couple weeks ago and my 8yo texted me asking for "candee". I replied "Candee is not a word. Are you asking ME for candy?" He replied "Yes ma'am. Candy, please." I'm not sure if they feel the correction is unnecessary. I've never asked them how they feel about it. I feel it is necessary.

Do you have any thoughts about parents who do not correct their children's texting?

Not really. I believe each parent should do what they think is best for their child. Because I homeschool my children, and mainly unschool, I use every opportunity and teachable moment that presents itself.

I've noticed many adults on Twitter having the same problems with grammar and spelling many children have. And they do not take kindly to correction. Is it this type of action you are hoping to prevent by training, or should I say, educating, your kids that good grammar/spelling is essential no matter the medium?

Yes, absolutely. My oldest already has a facebook page and his spelling and grammar are on public display. I know a lot of people ignore mistakes on facebook, especially for kids, but I feel it is important for him to practice now so that he isn't continuing these kinds of things into adulthood. I know many mothers will disagree, but for me, I think ignoring my kids' errors says to them that it's ok. I treat spelling and grammar training just like any other training, like table manners or good behavior. If a child breaks a rule, such as slamming a door, I'd correct them the first time they did it, so it doesn't become a bad habit. Same with spelling rules.

Have you read Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother by Amy Chua?

No, I don't believe so...

A conversation for another time. I personally agree with your position on this matter, wholeheartedly. I think spelling and grammar are increasingly important in the age of microblogging and text messages where we presume lax standards to be acceptable. And I thank you for a great interview. Thank you very much, Stacey.

Thank you, it was great talking with you as always, Rob.


  1. I'm glad that Stacey is teaching her children proper grammar via text messaging. Every moment that is teachable should be used whether the parent is homeschooling or not. I do the same thing with my child. In checking over her homework last night I noticed some spelling issues that I helped her correct. She's only in 3rd grade and the words were spelled phonetically which would have been fine with the teacher, but I wanted her to know the correct way. She seemed to appreciate it. As a former teacher I use teachable moments with my own child all the time. It's not just the teacher's job to teach her, it's mine as well. Way to go, Stacey! Keep teaching your boys how to be great writers. The women in their lives will be grateful to you later.

  2. I was going to respond to that tweet, but it said "mothers", so I left myself out of it. My daughter's not old enough for a phone (4 next month) but even now I correct her when she says "that's mines!"

    I sometimes feel like a hardass, but if I can teach her very early, I think she'll be fine later on. I agree with Stacey too.

  3. Heather: Thank you. It's very nice to have a comment from a former teacher. Very valuable input. I totally agree with you about education being not only the teacher's job and I wish more parents were taking an active role in their child's education. Way to go, Heather!

    Tyrone: That's awesome and I always corrected my kids' grammar, even as toddlers. It is important. I hate that I left the dads out last night on Twitter. Oops.