Some kids have lovely handwriting. (Actually, I’ve never really witnessed it myself in our house, but the rumors have circulated for so many years that I’m inclined to believe such children do indeed exist.) For these children, writing is a process they enjoy– the grace of the loops, the cleanness of the letters, the straightness of the lines. Writing seems to be almost calming to them. These same kids tend to take their writing skills directly into their math lessons, dutifully copying down their math problems in a neat and orderly fashion. (Feel the straight columns)
Then…there are the others – the ones I’m far more familiar with. These are the scribblers, the hurriers, the I-can’t-wait-to-go-out-and-play-ers. These kids write out math problems on a page that winds up looking as if some great tragedy hovered over the surface and rained down havoc on the computations below. The erasure marks are huge, sometimes leaving gaping wounds in the pitiable paper. The pencil didn’t just write on the page, it engraved into it, so heavy are the marks. And if there are any columns at all on those addition problems, you’d have a hard time finding them. The contentious digits in the ones place suddenly thinks they’re a member of the tens family, another number has leaned so heavily as to jump two place values and several of the hundreds places have gone missing completely.
For the last two days, we talked about what to do with a child who takes forever doing their math. But today we’re facing a problem that is almost completely the opposite. Today’s child may rush through the process so quickly that little is legible, even less is correct and nothing is learned.
What’s to be done? (more…)