Three Feedback Strategies for Early Learners

By Bevin Reinen

“The most powerful single modification that enhances achievement is feedback.” ~John Hattie

All students, regardless of age, need feedback to progress. Early learners, especially, haven’t yet acquired strong self-evaluative skills, so they heavily rely upon the input they receive to grow and develop. Thus, the feedback we provide must transcend beyond that of generic praise or the good ol’ gold star sticker.

Effective feedback is timely, targeted, tangible, and tied to goals (see Mindsteps). It occurs during the learning process, giving students the opportunity to act upon it. Effective feedback never defeats. Instead, it empowers students to take ownership of their learning.

So, as early childhood educators, where should we begin? How can we provide positive yet constructive feedback that will truly connect with kids who likely can’t even tie their own shoes yet?

We start simple. We celebrate successes. We identify an area or two for growth. And lastly, we make it memorable.

Below are three easy (and catchy) strategies for giving students feedback about their work:

Glows and Grows

Share the bright spots as well as the area(s) that could use some nourishment.

Glows and Grows Feedback Strategy for Early Learners

(Image Courtesy of Lesson Plans and More.)

Two Stars and a Wish

Celebrate two things that shine as well as one thing you hope to see in the future.

Two Stars and a Wish Feedback Learning Strategy for Early Childhood Education

TAG Peer Feedback

Teach students how to give feedback to peers through a compliment, question, and suggestion activity.

Tag Peer Feedback Strategy for Early Learners

And remember, these strategies can and should be adjusted to meet students’ personalized needs. Consider modeling these whole group first or using them as a guide for dialogue during one-on-one mini-conferencing or in small-group settings.

Also, be sure to see this Becker’s blog for 20 alternatives to using traditional praises such as “good job.”


Dr. Bevin Reinen is an educator, blogger, writer, speaker, and consultant who has held numerous leadership positions throughout her 15 years in education. Bevin holds a Bachelor of Arts in English, a Master of Science in Early Childhood Education, and a Doctorate of Education in K-12 Leadership. Bevin was named the 2011 Hampton Roads Magazine Top Teacher Overall and the 2015 Virginia Region II Teacher of the Year. Bevin is National Board Certified as an Early Childhood Generalist and was identified as an emerging leader by both ASCD and NAEYC. Her work appears in numerous print and online publications and she is the proud founder of

The opinions, representations, and statements made within this guest article are those of the author and not of Becker’s School Supplies as a whole. Any copyright remains with the author and any liability with regard to infringement of intellectual property rights remains with them. The company accepts no liability for any errors, omissions or representations.