2/21/13

{Crew Review} Handwriting Without Tears 1st Grade

Even in this modern era of technology, I still believe good penmanship is an essential part of early elementary education. It’s important to learn to print clearly and to be able to read and write cursive.  I’ve heard many the home school mom lament over the crying about handwriting lessons though I’m not sure who was doing the crying, mom or student. 

Handwriting Without Tears, developed and created by an occupational therapist, provides a solid foundation for both printing and cursive. Supergirl and I were blessed to be able to review the newly revised 1st Grade program.  100_6049

I found the Teacher’s Guide to be so helpful that I want to talk about it first. Like many home school families we survive on one income and like many other home school moms I don’t want to purchase a teacher guide if it really isn’t necessary.  How hard can it be to teach 1st grade printing, right? Not hard really, but this teacher’s guide makes it easier to teach.

I believe the heart of the Handwriting Without Tears program (HWT) is contained in the Teacher’s Guide.  Yes, it is written for classroom situations and many of the suggested activities are not applicable in a home school environment, but it contains Lesson Plans for each of the student workbook pages.  In addition to the lesson plans the guide also includes information on foundation skills and teaching strategies for writing capitals and lowercase letters. With the teacher guide, I know what a good pencil grip is, how to achieve it, and why it is so important.

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In the back of the guide is a suggested 36 week schedule.  The first 18 weeks include assignments for the student workbook.  For the second semester (weeks 18-36) the Teacher’s Guide states: “The workbook ends, but handwriting practice doesn’t. We’ve planned many activities and a routine for maintaining the good habits you carefully taught.” (pg 159) I love that I don’t have to figure out what to do after she finishes the workbook but still needs more practice with printing!

My favorite sentences in the guide are from the Teaching Guidelines section: “These guidelines are like a travel guide for the year. We’ll suggest the activities along the way, but you set the pace. Please think of the guidelines as a sequence, rather than a schedule.” (p.159)

Oh and did I mention that there are online resources available as well? Inside the front cover of the Teacher’s Guide is a web address.  On the back cover is a passcode.  Though intended to support classroom teachers, I found several items that we can use, such as some “take home” practice sheets.

Using My Printing Book 1st grade program with Supergirl:

We set a goal to work on handwriting for 10-15 minutes each school day rather than setting up a particular number of worksheets. I took to heart the advice to set the pace and use the guidelines as a sequence.  A typical handwriting session involves learning (or re-learning) the lowercase letters in the order suggested in the teacher’s guide.  We do this using some of the suggestions (or adaptations of those suggestions) such as “air writing”, wet, dry, try, tracing, practicing writing using a whiteboard, and our favorite practicing on the double line chalkboard. 

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We don’t use all the suggested activities every day but a few each day.  We spend at least one session, more often two or three, working through the formation and spacing of each letter before attempting to use the workbook.  This gives Supergirl lots of practice with each letter and by waiting to use the workbook she has more confidence and feels much more successful.  The workbook is then “easy” rather than frustrating.

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It may take us longer than 18 weeks to finish the workbook but that just means we’ll need less practice time before starting the 2nd grade program.

Thoughts from Supergirl:

“I like it. Writing the 2 is kind of hard but I like writing it. I like writing w’s. It’s fun to write in the workbook. When I am done writing letters I like to color the pictures.”

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The Nitty Gritty Details in Review:

  • The Vendor:  Handwriting Without Tears
  • The Product: 1st Grade Writing Program including My Printing Book and the 1st Grade Printing Teacher’s Guide.
  • Age Range:  Though we reviewed the 1st grade program, Handwriting Without Tears offers handwriting instruction programs for pre-k through 5th grade.
  • The Price: Student Book: $8.25 & the Teacher Guide: $9.25

In just a few short weeks, I have seen improvement in pencil grip and letter formation.  I’ve also noticed an increased desire to try copy work in other subject areas.  I highly recommend Handwriting Without Tears because of its developmental approach to teaching handwriting.

The Schoolhouse Review crew reviewed the Wet/Dry/Try App and several grade levels of the new editions of handwriting. Visit the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog to read what others have to say about the different products from Handwriting Without Tears.

Photobucket All information is correct and accurate as of the date of this review.

Disclaimer: As a TOS Crew member, I received this product free of charge to review. I am required to write a review but I am not required to write a positive review. This review contains my and/or my daughters’ honest opinion with, hopefully, enough detail as to why I/ we liked or did not like a product so that my readers can make an informed decision. I received no monetary compensation. I am disclosing this in accordance with FTC regulations.

We received the Teacher’s Guide and Student book for review.  I already owned the double line chalkboard from HWT pictured above.

You can read my other Schoolhouse Review Crew Reviews by clicking here.

1 comment:

  1. Considering I almost always look for your reviews to read first, I can't believe I wasn't following you. I love your review on this, Tess. Honestly, your comment on the grip alone is such an important one for parents like me with grip-challenged kids! Thanks for always, always describing products perfectly.

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