Thursday, July 12, 2007

Review: Handwriting Without Tears Pre-K

This will probably not be of interest to non-homeschoolers. : )

I had decided some time ago after doing reading that when it came time for a handwriting program, I would go with Handwriting Without Tears. I've heard very positive things about it. I had considered not worrying about writing at all for some time, but I thought that being able to write letters and numbers would be a boost to Pauly's confidence. He (at nearly 5) still has a hard time holding a pencil or crayon, doesn't like to color, doesn't free hand draw at all and won't even attempt to write letters. He has made some attempts to write numbers while doing the Math U See primer level (which he loves to do) but mostly I do all the writing for him, at his request.

After contacting the Handwriting Without Tears staff, I ordered the Preschool level rather than the Kindergarten level program. It really focuses on improving small motor skills rather than on forming letters and numbers, although it does touch on that. My plan is to follow up with the K level whenever he finishes the preschool book. I also got a Pre-K book for Roger, but he hasn't begun it yet. The curriculum consists of a workbook and teacher's manual (not expensive at all), a music CD, wooden manipulatives to teach the formation of capital letters, and a small slate for the child to practice forming letters. The manipulatives are pretty expensive. If you had access to a jigsaw you could easily make your own for much less, a pattern is included. You could also use an exacto knife to cut them out of foam or cardboard, although they wouldn't be as useful for some of the described activities. The manipulatives may not be as necessary for children who already have good fine motor skills.

The Pre-K level is really much more than handwriting. Besides improving small motor skills, it teaches the alphabet, counting and numbers and colors and shapes. It also teaches things like in and out, up and down, top and bottom, in front and behind. Pauly already knows all of this information, but I think it will be good for Roger. It is designed to be presented in a fun, informal way. The teacher's manual includes many, many activities using the manipulatives and CD, not all of which directly relate to handwriting, and contains several pointers on how to teach correct pencil grip, encouraging coloring and drawing, etc. Again, if your child takes naturally to these things this may not be necessary, but it has already helped us. There is a song (lyrics in the teacher's manual, music on the CD) that describes correct crayon grip. Using this song, I was able to see a dramatic immediate improvement in Pauly's handling of the crayon, which again has been difficult for him. The song describes the correct grip in just the right way for the child to catch on quickly. The correct grip is taught and reinforced through a series of games.

Now we're focusing on improving coloring technique, to build confidence and improve fine motor skills. Pauly has been asking to do more work in the workbook, so he seems to enjoy it, and he also enjoys the games we've played with Roger. We've had a fun time with it so far!


  1. Great review! I've been considering HWT for some time now and am always glad to have some real-life input from others.


  2. That IS exciting! I hope Pauly can learn to enjoy doing things with his hands. Wish they had made this way back when.

  3. This is great to read! We have HWT pre-k also and have done part of the workbook. I had misplaced the teacher's guide (found it recently), so we haven't done any of the activities. After reading your blog, I'm now considering the CD.

  4. The CD is a very simple production. The kids seem to really like it, though, but they don't know better. Many of the songs are very easy to learn and sing yourself after hearing them a time or two.


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