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Handwriting Without Tears is a handwriting curriculum that is part of the Learning Without Tears group of resources. It’s intended for use in a school setting, but it’s become popular in the homeschool community. I’ve used it in our homeschool with all of my kids, but used the preschool and kindergarten levels only with my younger two. I was drawn to the curriculum because it was created by occupational therapists, and I had a student that was extremely resistant to adopting the correct pencil grip. It worked so well for him that I am now using with with my youngest, who is currently finishing up the preschool book (My First School Book), and will use the new version of the kindergarten book (Letters and Numbers for Me) next school year. 

Handwriting Without Tears Review 

Curriculum Elements

My First School Book, the preschool level workbook, teaches pencil grip, uppercase letter formation, number formation, colors, and shapes. There’s also a nod to the first sound of each letter, but I didn’t feel that was a major part of the workbook and feel strongly that letter sounds should be taught separately (we used this fantastic video for letter sounds). But most of the book is dedicated to uppercase letter formation (lowercase letters are taught in the kindergarten level). Letter formation is taught in developmental, rather than alphabetical, order.  

It’s important to know that the workbook is just one part of this curriculum. Handwriting Without Tears is intended to be a multisensory curriculum. There are a number of additional products you can purchase to allow the student to have hands-on activities to learn letter and number and letter formation, as well as CDs with learning songs. 

A suggested lesson plan and activities are included in the Readiness & Writing Pre-K Teacher’s Guide. I followed the suggested lesson plan the first time I used the pre-k curriculum, and have pared it down this second time around. If used as suggested – doing a couple of activities per day with your student that may include multi-sensory play or workbook work – this curriculum should last for the entire school year. 

What Should You Buy? 

Necessary

Optional but Highly Recommend 

Other Optional Helpful Items 

Teacher Prep 

Before getting started with this curriculum, you’ll want to spend some time getting to know the teacher’s manual. Read about how to help a student correct their pencil grip. Study the lesson plan and consider if you want to use it or make changes.

Also plan how you want to store the various elements of the curriculum. I recommend keeping it all together so that it’s easy to grab the current day’s activity for your child.

Student Time 

Active teaching time usually takes less than five minutes, although it always took longer when we had fun songs from the CD on the plan for the day. 

If the student has a coloring activity in the workbook, they usually take a few minutes longer. Coloring is a key aspect of the curriculum because it gives the student an opportunity to practice the proper pencil grip and build up hand muscle strength. Until the student habitually uses the correct grip, you’ll need to monitor and correct. In these early stages, your child’s hand will tire quickly. But we had great results with even just a few minutes with this curriculum a day on a consistent basis. 

To whom would I recommend Handwriting Without Tears?

(Based on Learning Preferences and Three D’s I describe in earlier posts.)

Recommend for… 

  • Handwriting Without Tears truly is a multi-sensory curriculum, which means that you should have some success with this program no matter your student’s preferred learning methods as long as you focus time and energy on the learning methods that they prefer.
  • Like most preschool curricula, Handwriting Without Tears requires One-on-One teaching. But if your child prefers Group learning and has siblings, it’s fun to include siblings in some of the lessons. I found that all of my boys enjoyed the songs and playing with the wood pieces.
  • Children that are not naturally developing the proper pencil grip.

I would NOT recommend for…

Children that can already write their uppercase letters. Handwriting Without Tears focuses on letter formation, so a student that already knows how to form his letters may grow bored with it.

My Best Tips for Using Handwriting Without Tears

  • Store all of the pieces of the program together, maybe in a bag or bin, so that it’s easy to grab what you need when you need it.
  • Don’t skip the coloring pages at the beginning of the workbook. They’re important for the development of your studen’t fine motor skills. You may want to spend multiple days on one coloring page if your studen’t hand grows tired.

Common Questions/FAQ About Handwriting Without Tears

Do I really need all those pieces? Can I get just the workbook?
You can try using just the workbook if your student’s preferred learning methods are Written Word, Spoken Word, or Visual since there are pictures at the top of each letter and number page showing the steps in forming the letters/numbers. But if you have a student that learns better with Interactive or Physical learning methods, I would recommend purchasing the teacher’s manual and some of the hands-on pieces.

The Last Thing You Need to Know about Handwriting Without Tears

This is one of my favorite of all the curricula we’ve used because it shows parents that have never taught handwriting how to teach this subject in a logical, stepwise manner that truly helps her child. I’m grateful that I found it!

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