My school has recently adopted a handwriting program, Handwriting Without Tears. This program focuses strictly on penmanship. The goal of Handwriting Without Tears is to provide all students the ability to write clearly and correctly. The program uses a variety of sensory techniques. It is designed to meet the needs of all types of learners.
Teachers and parents are given ideas and activities to improve a child’s posture, handgrip, self-confidence, body awareness, and more. The program has its own workbook, paper, pencil, and supplement materials. The instruction is easy to follow and requires little preparation.
The program uses three levels of instruction- imitation, copying, and independent writing. During imitation, the teacher writes and the child imitates the teacher. In copying, the child writes letters by looking at the book. Through independent writing, the child must write strictly from memory. During this phase, there are no models for the student to copy or imitate.
The program begins with the easiest letters first and then gradually adds to what the students have learned. In the beginning, the students feel the letters and practice the motions needed to create each letter. When learning a letter, the children first use manipulative tools and hands-on activities. The actual writing comes after the children have built the letter with play dough, wood pieces, or chalk.
Handwriting Without Tears has unique paper. Instead of using the typical two solid lines with a dashed line in the middle, the program has two-lined paper. The bottom line gives the students a guide for keeping letters in line. The top line controls the letter size. The paper is unlike any that I have worked with and takes some time to get accustomed to using.
The Handwriting Without Tears curriculum begins in Pre-Kindergarten writing and continues through cursive. The Pre-K program offers songs and age appropriate material. The program is very unique and affordable compared to many other writing programs.
I enjoy working with the program. However, I have found that completing all of the given activities can be very time-consuming. Some of the activities are wonderful supplements for the children that need fine motor practice. However, some of my students come to kindergarten with beautiful penmanship, for their age, and great hand control. I think that parts of the program are best carried out in small groups with the students needing extra practice.