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Handwriting Without Tears Review – First Grade

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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 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 in pre-k. It worked so well for him that I continued using it with him in kindergarten and first grade.

Handwriting Without Tears Review for First Grade

Curriculum Elements

My Printing Book, the first-grade level workbook, reviews pencil skills, uppercase and lowercase letter formation, and number formation. There are a few drawing activities and opportunities to color on most pages to practice pencil skills. It also includes writing activities focusing on words, sentences, paragraphs, and some grammar (ex. abbreviations, capital usage). But I would say that the focus of the workbook is practicing letter formation, which is taught in developmental, rather than alphabetical, order.

The My Printing Book Teacher’s Guide includes ideas for multi-sensory activities. Reluctant writers or students that struggle with workbook work would benefit from these ideas. But if your student just needs practice, the workbook should be sufficient. The parent/instructor can simply sit with their student and talk through the letter/number formations as described on the page, then monitor the child’s work.

The version of the book we used had about 86 pages of student work. If using just the workbook, you can do handwriting three times a week and complete it in less than a school year. If using multi-sensory activities from the teacher’s guide, you may want to do handwriting more often.

What Should You Buy?


  • My Printing Book – student workbook
  • Crayons – the flip crayons sold by Learning Without Tears are helpful in encouraging the correct pencil grip for kids with smaller hands, but many first graders will do just fine with regular crayons.


Teacher Prep

If you plan to use the teacher’s guide, you’ll want to spend some time with it and plan out the activities you do in addition to the workbook. You will likely also have to make additional purchases.

But if you’re using just the workbook, it should be open and go.

Student Time

Most of the pages should take less than 15 minutes to complete, but some students may want to complete pages towards the back of the workbook over two days if still struggling with fine motor skills or experiencing frustration. Conversely, most of the review pages for lowercase letters go so quickly that some students may want to do more than one page at a time.

To whom would I recommend Handwriting Without Tears?

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

Recommend for…

  • Students that do well with the Written Word, Spoken Word, and Visual learning methods should do well with just the workbook. But students that need more Interactive or Physical methods of learning may need multi-sensory activities as described in the teacher’s guide.
  • Like most early-learning curricula, Handwriting Without Tears requires One-on-One teaching.
  • Children that enjoy coloring since there’s an opportunity to color most days.

I would NOT recommend for…

Children that are advanced writers since so much of the workbook is dedicated to letter (and number) formation.

My Best Tips for Using Handwriting Without Tears

  • Watch all of your student’s workbook work. Since this level is dedicated to practicing letter formation, it’s important to correct your student if forming letters improperly before they create bad habits.
  • Keep the lessons short, no more than 15 minutes.

Common Questions/FAQ About Handwriting Without Tears

Do I need the teacher’s manual/guide?

Yes, if your student needs multi-sensory activities as part of his/her handwriting curriculum.

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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1 thought on “Handwriting Without Tears Review – First Grade”

  1. Pingback: Homeschooling During the Coronavirus Crisis - Leslie Maddox

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