Quality Over Quantity

Just as no one tried to teach me how to manage my hyperactive behavior and no one knew how to teach me to work in a competent manner. I didn’t know how to appreciate a job well done. Instead I raced through to be the first one done.

Sure, teachers scolded me for not being careful. That happened every day. But, no one rewarded me specifically for checking. No one taught me methods for checking that wouldn’t leave me tuned out. Most importantly, not until later in life, did I learn the simple pleasure of doing good work in a careful manner and the joy of doing something the “right” way, even if it meant slowing down.

Many children never learn to feel pride and satisfaction in the quality of doing their work well. Instead they focus on getting things “over with”, or producing quantity, or getting a certain grade. They never learn a sense of internal satisfaction from doing a good job. Rather, everything is externally oriented and satisfaction is based on whether the reward was obtained. The following tips are designed to help you develop a quality-based classroom:

  • Don’t reward speed of completion. Make sure that the class is not in a race to get finished and that the first one done does not get any special rewards. The child can be allowed to do something else if they finish and do the assignment well.

Related: RDI Program and the Power of Pausing

  • Provide clear time limits for task completion. At the same time that we don’t want the child to race through their work, we know that many children cannot focus unless they have a clear time structure. They need to know that there is a finite time and that extensions are not given. If the child is working carefully and not tuning out, don’t punish him for not completing work. Use this as an indication of what he is capable of at this time. Reward quality and efficiency.
  • Set clear limits on quality.   Many AD/HD children never learn how to value the quality of an effort. If the child is coming in with all of their homework done but it is sloppy and error ridden, try allowing them to do less work but that they must do it up to a certain standard for it to receive any credit at all. The motto here is “Do something well or don’t do it at all.”   Use a similar method with sloppy class work.
  • Don’t overwhelm the student with quality demands in all areas at the same time. If the child’s writing is disorganized in content and poor in grammar and poor in spelling, try focusing on the organization of writing first.       Require that the child learn how to connect and organize thoughts in a meaningful way (a task that will be more motivating for the child) and don’t worry about grammar, punctuation and spelling. When this first goal is achieved, move on the next. In this way the child can experience success.

1 Comment

  1. Allan Katz

    Jerome Bruner said that kids should experience success and failure in school not as reward or punishment but as information. Focus should be on what the kid is learning and not how he is learning. So the teacher will spend more time on formative assessment and feedback while the kid is busy with his learning rather than summative assessment after the work is completed. I can appreciate you relating to your own experiences, but I think it will be more helpful that advice is also given in the context of better learning environment s that use formative assessments. This will help teach a kid to self-assess and also teach him the executive functions he is lacking

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