I was just re-reading through some of my old blog entries, and I found this from a few years ago:
[I was playing a game with a tutoring student.] When we landed on a space, if we read the word, we could have the M&M (if she wasn't sure how to read a word, I helped her sound it out. I don't give my kids a sink or swim ultimatum, I help make sure they swim every time.)
I have thought this for a long time, but it bears repeating: make sure your children / students experience success when they are learning to read. Don't act like a wrong answer or a wrong word is the end of the world - correct them kindly, and non-judgmentally, and move on. They're kids, and their emotions matter. Success breeds success, while feeling overwhelmed or frustrated causes an emotional disconnect. Kids who emotionally disconnect from the process are NOT going to learn anything.
P.S. Here's another comment I found from 3 years ago:
My stock answer when students are way off is "Well . . ." and then usually a statement of the answer I was looking for. The important thing when a child makes a mistake during a learning activity is to acknowledge the mistake, but in a neutral way - there doesn't have to be emotion assigned to it. Just "Well . . . actually it goes this way" or the like.
I don't ever want the kids I'm working with to be afraid to give me a wrong answer. The most awesome thing about childhood is the intense curiosity - curiosity that adults can easily kill off so easily by being negative.