Are you looking for simple strategies to help your K-2 student with their handwriting? Are they also having trouble with subtraction? The following are simple handwriting and subtraction strategies that I used to help Joshua when he fell behind other students in school in these areas.
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A Simple Strategy for Handwriting
When my boys entered second grade (while still attending elementary school), there was a tremendous difference in their handwriting. While still not perfect, Jack had learned to make his lettering small as well as learned to write his name across a straight line.
However, Josh was having a hard time with this. It didn’t help that he just hated writing and still does. His lettering was huge and it often drifted far below or above a given line. Halfway through his semester, Josh’s handwriting was becoming a concern with his resource teacher.
I would try to get him to make the lettering smaller and to write as straight as he could. We tried tracing letters at first which he did well but he could not write the same letters without the tracing. This was becoming painfully frustrating to the both of us. I just wanted to give up and he was shutting down quickly.
Then I came up with the idea of boxing his letters. I thought what if I get him to print a letter in a box and then gradually shrink the box. I quickly began creating grids of different sizes.
Starting with the largest grid, I had him practice his name as well as complete any writing assignments that were due. I also made copies of these grids to give to his resource teacher. I explained how I was using these grids and he agreed to use them in class.
Each week, I would give him a smaller grid and he was able to keep his lettering within the boxes. It didn’t take long before we saw some improvement. At the end of each week, I would get him to write his name without the grid and I could see it was making a difference.
Eventually we took him off the grids when he was able to write his words at a reasonable height and on the lines without drifting. Unfortunately, I don’t have any old samples of his work but as you can see from the pic, his handwriting is pretty spot on. This is a sample of his cursive in 5th grade.
Now if you want to create these grids, it is quite simple. Using any document program, just add an empty table and format the size of each column and row. I have also provided these grids as a free printable at the end of the post to save you some time.
A Simple Learning Strategy for Math
Josh also had a hard time when it came to subtracting double digits. He understood subtraction but once he didn’t have enough fingers to begin with, he started getting frustrated.
We used manipulatives which was a great start but it was becoming very time consuming. He had to count his starting amount, then count out what he was removing, and then count out the result. He did this with every problem and so our days were getting long.
I tried to wean him off of these, but he would put up a fight. I figured the next best strategy would be a number line. So I created a number line from 1 to 20. I added small dots above each number so that he could place his finger at the start number and then move and count backwards.
This simple and obvious tool did the trick until he miscounted and crumpled up the number line. Lucky for me I saved the number line on my computer, reprinted it but this time I laminated it.
So for the next few weeks, he continued to use the number line and realized what a great help it was on his assignments and tests. It also helped that the now laminated number line was crumple-proof.
I never weaned him off the number line. One day I just happen to notice that he was working his subtractions problems without it. In fact, he is quicker than I when it comes to calculating answers to subtraction problems.
Again, this is a simple number line that anyone can make by hand. But to save you some time, I have also provided this as a free printable at the end of the post. Just remember to print it as ‘landscape’ and not ‘portrait’.
I really hope these simple strategies will help your student(s) with their handwriting and/or subtraction. Let me know if they helped your student by commenting below. I’d love to hear your success stories. Also, let me know what other strategies you have used in these areas. I’m sure our readers would appreciate any and all help.
Click the links below to access your free printables.