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When I am helping my young child say Birkat Hamazon or other prayers, I sometimes correct her pronunciation of a word or prompt her when she forgets what the next word is. In these situations, she frequently continues from the next word after the one I said, without repeating or saying the word I supplied, as if my saying it was part of her recitation.

As a matter of effective training for correct observance in the future (which I understand the purpose of her prayer and of my helping to be):

  • Is it problematic that she skips the word I say in this manner?

  • If so, do you know of any good, preferably non-disruptive, ways to prevent such skipping while providing the correction or prompt required?

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if you just say half the word, then they'll say the second half, so they're only skipping half a word :) – Menachem Jun 18 '13 at 3:56
@Menachem, the same questions apply in that case. :) – Isaac Moses Jun 18 '13 at 4:17
Shomea keoneh :) – Double AA Jun 18 '13 at 5:46
up vote 7 down vote accepted

My preferred method - tried when teaching both my sons their Bar Mitzva Parsha - is as follows.

When the child makes an error, make them go back 2 - 3 words and restart correctly from there.

This will help them correct the flow; otherwise they get used to saying the wrong thing - correcting it (or hearing you correct it) - and continuing.

We learn this concept from the Halachot of Mashiv HaRuach where repeating it 100 times is insufficient; one needs to say a few words before, in order to train oneself in the correct flow.

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I don't know if the contexts are similar enough, but backing up a phrase is pretty common practice for musicians, both singers and instrumentalists, when correcting problems. Getting the note right is ok but doesn't stick unless you get the note right in context. – Monica Cellio Jun 18 '13 at 13:17

do you know of any good, preferably non-disruptive, ways to prevent such skipping while providing the correction or prompt required?

Just some ideas:

  • Sit down with your child not during a prayer and explain that such a prompt means that she should repeat the entire word. Explain why.
    • Possibly augmented by: Immediately before the prayer, remind her of this in a few words.
  • During the prayer, you say "say X" rather than just "X". Don't slur the "say". This will also better break up the child's rhythm, so the tune (if any) doesn't continue with the next word in the prayer any longer.

No source for the first idea (and augmentation). The "say X" versus "X" idea is one I've tried, and it seems to work to some extent.

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