Handwriting Without Tears: Grade 1 {Review}

By 10:00 AM

The complete handwriting curriculum, Handwriting Without Tears was designed to make handwriting easy to teach and easy to learn, in just 15 minutes per day.  It is a multi-sensory curriculum that turns a drab concept into something fresh and fun and hands-on.  So it is no wonder that Handwriting Without Tears, is no stranger to many homeschool families and/or classroom educators.

Handwriting without Tears LogoHandwriting Without Tears embodies a developmental teaching approach by teaching capitals first, and then proceeds to help the child master lowercase letters, lowercase cursive letters, and finally capital cursive letters.  Once the handwriting mechanics are mastered, children can focus on content and meaning-- in all subjects.  The Handwriting Without Tears website shares research that suggests:

Structured handwriting lessons lead to improved writing performance, academic success, and overall student self-esteem (Graham and Harris, 2005; Graham, Harris, and Fink 2000; Berninger et al. 1997; Jones and Christensen 1999).

I think it is fair to say that handwriting is an important skill to be mastered-- and with Handwriting Without Tears, it can be! 

For this review we received the NEW Edition 1st Grade Teacher's Guide, which contains:
HWOT 1st grade Teacher's Guide
  • daily lessons
  • tips on how to form letters correctly
  • curriculum connections
  • video links
  • and more! 
And we received the corresponding student workbook, My Printing Book, for 1st Grade.  The NEW K-4 Editions of Handwriting Without Tears are now aligned with the Common Core Standards for English Language Arts and provide even more help for the teacher to integrate Handwriting into Language Arts instruction.  HWT has also released a new Second Grade cursive introduction option and a Wet-Dry-Try Handwriting App for Apple or Android users.

HWOT 1st grade Workbook

We actually did not use a lot of the extras you will find in the Teacher's Guide, but I liked referring to it for ways to help my son correctly form his letters.  The Teacher's Guide shares the heart of the program.  The Teacher's Guide is $9.25 and the Printing book is $8.25.  And I would highly encourage you to buy both; I would not recommend the My Printing Book to be used without the guide.

I was looking forward to this curriculum for several reasons, but one being I had my son take the Handwriting Proficiency assessment and realized there was some work to do ; )  His mistakes ranged from letter formation (would start at the bottom and/ or retrace instead of a "frog jump"), letter sizing (too big), and neatness ("sloppiness" often gets the best of him-- especially when there's something else he'd rather be doing!).  Thankfully, the purpose of Handwriting Without Tears student workbook is to correct those mistakes using large step-by-step models, child-friendly language, and simple designs.

One of the mistakes he makes (that I take blame for) is the correct use (or lack thereof) of lowercase letters in words and sentences.  I always used the terms "big" for uppercase/ capital letters and "small" for lowercase letters, but since capital letters are easier to form when I would say "write a "small" A", he would write a capital A, only smaller in size.  He did it often enough that I stopped trying to correct him and just let him write.  It is a common and developmentally appropriate mistake, but with the 1st Grade workbook emphasizing lowercase letters I am hoping it helps him correct the mistake I helped to create!

We completed a lesson or two everyday.  The lessons took no longer than 15 minutes and he seemed to enjoy himself while completing the workbook page(s).  He also took a liking to coloring the picture at the bottom of every page that corresponded with the letter that was being taught.  It truly is an easy curriculum to implement!  Unlike some other things we are doing right now, asking him to complete his workbook lesson resulted in no drama and no tears!  This will definitely be added to our school routine even after the review is over.

  • Easy to implement and teach
  • Short lessons
  • Although in black and white, the workbook didn't look or feel like a " boring ol' worksheet"
  • My son's handwriting HAS improved!  Letter spacing has improved.  Letter sizing has improved. And, letter formation has been corrected!  Still working on proper use of capital/ lowercase letters, but I believe learning and using correct letter formation will greatly help him in this area.
Before I get to things I "disliked" (which are more personal preferences) just know we LOVED the program!  And I would whole-heatedly recommend it to others in need of a Handwriting Curriculum.

  • The Teacher's Guide is "busy."  There's a lot of information on each page-- too much so, that it can be seen as quite a distraction.
  • It isn't necessarily an "Open and Go" Curriculum until you get used to the format.  I had to flip through several pages of suggestions/ tips before I got to the first lesson.  And even then, I was constantly being referred to this or that page. 
  • The lessons can be explained and taught without it, but the Teacher's Guide referred to the Rock, Rap, Tap, & Learn CD, which was not included in the review, on every page that I feel like we missed out on an integral part of the program.  I wish I had the chance to vouch for that, too.


Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this product through the SchoolHouse Review Crew in exchange for my honest review.  I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in anyway.  All opinions i have expresses are my own or those of my family.  I am disclosing this in accordance to the FTC Regulations.

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