How do you handle awful handwriting?

Discussion in 'Middle School / Junior High' started by MissEducation, Sep 15, 2009.

  1. MissEducation

    MissEducation Companion

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    Sep 15, 2009

    I just got a new student. His handwriting is AWFUL. His actual work does not indicate any disorders that would affect handwriting - I think it's just "naturally" bad. I am not picky about things like this but I can barely read it! We did an activity today where the kids had to write a "note" to their desk mate and the girl he passed it to told me she could not read it. I cannot go all year squinting at this kid's writing.

    I think I'll contact home just to say hi and I'll mention it and maybe send home an example to see if that's really the best he can do. Other than that, how do you deal with abysmal writing?? :dizzy:
     
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  3. Ima Teacher

    Ima Teacher Maven

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    Sep 15, 2009

    If I can't read it, I don't grade it.
     
  4. kidsandpups

    kidsandpups Companion

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    Sep 16, 2009

    I had this problem with one student last year. I kept making him do the assignment over until I could read it. His handwriting still isn't great, but at least I can read it now.

    I also teach handwriting during English class once in a while to review certain letters that are troublesome for multiple kids. (Cursive a and o, m and n, etc.)
     
    Last edited: Sep 16, 2009
  5. WaterfallLady

    WaterfallLady Enthusiast

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    Sep 17, 2009

    Let the OT at your school know. She will be able to tell if its a laziness thing, or something else.
     
  6. MissEducation

    MissEducation Companion

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    Sep 17, 2009

    Sorry for my ignorance...:) What is OT?
     
  7. CanadianTeacher

    CanadianTeacher Groupie

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    Sep 17, 2009

    I usually tell kids to type assignments if they can't do it neatly and legibly by hand.
     
  8. blessedhands

    blessedhands Comrade

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    Sep 17, 2009

    I had this problem once. I urged the student (11th grader) to write legibly, slowly, and formulate his letters properly. I saw some change. Other times I tried my best to read it and asked him what some words meant later. (rarely though). Other times I ask the class to type their work.
     
  9. prek176

    prek176 Companion

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    Sep 17, 2009

    I've seen this a lot. These kids skirt under the OT watch. Because of money they often don't qualify to receive services. The problem is they never properly developed fine motor skills when they were young. Children are rushed into writing as soon as they can hold a pencil. Look at the child's pencil grip. Are they "pinching the pencil or holding it with an awkward kind of grasp. This will give you a clue. Usually after a certain age it is hard to change this grasp but I would certainly ask an OT for her opinion. Some of these kids never really learned to form the letters. Something is missing with the brain/hand connection. Think of it like this: how legible would your writing be if you had to stop and think about how each letter is formed before you can write the word? This step should be automatic but in some kids it isn't. A suggestion that is sometimes made is for the child to type assignments.

    I've been through this with my son and really wished that I had known then what I do now. He received OT for a short time but by 4th grade it was phased out. Reasons included grip was hard to change at that level (too ingrained) and reluctance to leave the classroom.

    Also, if you check his records you may find that the student received speech services somewhere along the line. Speech issues and OT issues often go hand in hand.
     
  10. JerLon

    JerLon Rookie

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    Sep 18, 2009

    I come across this a lot. In fact, I have awful handwriting as well.

    The method I use to cope (and will often encourage my students to do...9th Graders) is writing in all capital letters. When a word needs to be capitalized, I simply make that letter larger. I type as often as I can and let my students do the same.
     
  11. asgirl

    asgirl Rookie

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    Sep 18, 2009

     
  12. Braves09

    Braves09 Rookie

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    Sep 18, 2009

    Occupational Therapist

    I also had sloppy handwriting by the way, and went to OT in fifth grade for hand eye coordination and other issues.
     
  13. nothermanda

    nothermanda Companion

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    Sep 21, 2009

    Here are some tricks. They don't always work :)

    *"Rubber Pencil Flop." This is a cure (okay, a treatment) for those kids who hold the pencil so tightly that their wrists hurt. They make a "rubber pencil" where you wiggle the pencil, holding it loosely between the thumb and first finger, and then flop the eraser end back onto the web of the thumb. I also emphasize "long fingers," which makes their writing more relaxed.

    *Ask the kids to let their whole arm move a little bit when they write. It sounds weird, but it works for some. This means that they have to sit up straight - no hunching over their work!

    *I keep photocopies of handwriting exercises in a tray near my desk. Those kids that are really interested in improving take as many as they can get!

    *I encourage, but don't force, cursive handwriting. Honestly, some people hate it, and I don't mind, but I think that I write faster when I use cursive. For my kids, that means less time writing homework. They like that idea!

    *Like someone else said, if I can't read it, I can't grade it. This goes for the chicken-scratch as well as the kids (usually girls) who write their lower-case letters so large that they touch the top AND bottom lines.

    *Typing is always an option. If they don't have access to a printer, they're allowed to email the work or bring it in on a USB drive.

    *Some kids write illegibly because they don't really want you to read their writing, but that's a separate issue...

    I've had better luck encouraging good penmanship than discouraging bad. Of course, some of my kids still don't write clearly! I had pretty terrible handwriting until I started teaching and needed to be understood.
     

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