Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Handwriting Without Tears {review}

Handwriting without Tears Logo photo HWOTLogo.jpg

I'm not really sure that Handwriting Without Tears needs an introduction.  It is one of the leading handwriting programs in the homeschool community, and I think it is one of the most successful because it takes a multi-sensory approach to teach children successful habits.

When I was given the opportunity to review this popular program, I took a long look at both the K and 1st grade levels.  Without a doubt, Elliott (6) could have handled the 1st grade curriculum.  However I decided the Kindergarten Workbook and Teacher's Manual would be a good fit for us too.  This is because I knew he could benefit from the beginning as a review for correctly forming letters, and just progress quickly through the program.  I was also thinking that I could start using the readiness and hands-on activities from the teacher's manual with Emory (3.5), since he likes to join our school days frequently.

HWOT Kindergarten Teacher's Guide photo HWOTKinderTeacherbook.jpg

I have to say, this is a fantastic resource.  The Teacher's Guide ($9.25) is designed for classroom use, and is very comprehensive, but it is easily adaptable for the homeschooler.  It is almost 200 pages and is full of information from covering foundation skills (like correct pencil grip), teaching strategies for the alphabet and numbers, how to integrate other subjects, support tips for each lesson, and a daily schedule designed for a 36 week year.

The student book, Letters and Numbers for Me ($8.25) has all of the written activities, and although I have a right-handed student, it is also supposed to be lefty-friendly.  The lessons start out very slowly with capital letters, then as lower case letters are introduced, the student is able to write short, familiar words.  By the end of the program, the student is writing sentences and using varied punctuation.
HWOT Kindergarten Workbook photo HWOTKinderworkbook.jpg

Personalizing the Program
The beginning of the program seems to be designed for the student who has little-to-no experience writing.  Since my son taught himself how to write most letters, we didn't use this program exactly as written.  Admittedly, we skipped around a little.  He didn't need two full weeks of readiness activities, so we would do a multi-sensory activity or two along with the written lesson, and that worked well for him.

We use the beginning letter instruction to practice correct formation.  He fills in each block, and I point out the one(s) that look "great" so he gets praise for what he is doing well.

The curriculum uses wooden pieces for building letters, but since the teacher's guide includes the pattern for these, I made them from craft foam.  Building letters is an activity that even my 3 year old can begin to participate in!

The Wet-Dry-Try Technique is another activity for the hands-on learner.  I purchased a chalkboard of comparable size at a craft store so I knew I would have it in time to start the review.  My kids love doing anything different, so this was a fun experience for him.

Then, we also skipped to later parts of the program and practiced words and sentences.  Rotating back and forth allowed us to practice technique, as well as keep things fresh and interesting for him.  Elliott is not necessarily a fan of handwriting

This was one of those days where a break was needed.  He was getting a little goofy, even though he liked reading and writing words instead of just letters.  However, I love that this program utilizes short, varied lessons, instead of just being endless worksheets of tracing letter after letter, so kids who need variety, get it.

Final Thoughts
The Teacher's Manual is very thorough, but it's slightly cumbersome.  There is so much information, that the pages start to feel cluttered and full.  I also feel like the suggested schedule should be at the front of the book, before the lessons, but that could just be personal preference.  However, the table of contents is just as detailed, which makes it easy to match the teacher's guide lesson to the student book when I'm bouncing around between lessons in true homeschooler fashion.

We are enjoying this program so far, and will continue to use it for our handwriting needs.  It's very inexpensive for the quality, and I am so happy to have had the opportunity to try it!

Handwriting Without Tears has programs from Pre-K through 5th grade, as well as a Wet-Dry-Try app!  The Crew just reviewed the new editions of K-2nd, as well as the app, so be sure to read more reviews from the Schoolhouse Review Crew to find out what my Crew Mates think!

Disclaimer: As a member of the Schoolhouse Review Crew, I received a complimentary copy of this product in exchange for an honest review. I am not required to write a positive review.  All opinions expressed are my own, are based on personal experience, and were not influenced in any way.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC Regulations.


  1. Well done! You did a fantastic job showing how you used it, and sharing your honest opinion. Looks like a great value! I want to try hwt some day soon.

  2. Ok...I get it now. Your post and pics made perfect sense for someone whose never used this curriculum. I can definitely see the value in Handwriting Without Tears. My kids are past this stage but it would have been a great way to start them with writing.

  3. Great review Brittney! Now I definitely want to look into this :)

  4. This looks really good, I wish I would have had this with my lefty daughter. Good review.

  5. I think I may give this a go with my son. It's a lot cheaper than I had thought for a program that is talked about so much.