May 25, 2007

Handwriting Without Tears Review

Rhiannon was interested in learning cursive this year so I agreed. Having read and heard wonderful reviews of Handwriting without Tears we purchased the Grade 3 Cursive books. I purchased the teachers edition which I would not do again as it really is unneccesary and not very useful other than for a few word lists which you could easily create on your own.

Two things about this program as described that we found inaccurate. First the name lies, there are still tears, at least for us there were. The first few times there were tears and general unhappiness. I pulled back for awhile and then started again and still the tears - I was ready to throw in the towel and then I tried a different approach. I stopped doing what they recommended - I stopped trying to teach it on a board and with all the steps and showed her once in her book and then left her alone to do it herself (which they recommend to not do), reviewed it with her and then she stopped crying and started enjoying it - go figure.

So all in all it was a great program for us once we adapted it to fit Rhia's learning style better. The structure of the letters is different than a traditional cursive program and that takes getting used to and you still need to help your child understand the letters in traditional cursive even if they do not write it so they can read it. This adds in an extra step I suppose but it is worth it. I like the style of HWT and the letters are easier to understand and look more like their print counterparts, they are also easier to write.

Nearly the whole program focuses on lower case letters with just the last few lessons bringing in capitol letters. We did this program thorugh the whole year but at a pretty slow pace and I would recommend it. Rhia misses the curly and prettiness of the traditional letters but likes the way she writes these.

So as long as you don't expect this to be a magic pill, of handwriting without any tears, and don't mind the different style of lettering this is a great program. We will continue using the next level for her next year and bringing Ciaran into this program in 1st grade. We have heard it is especially useful for lefties which he is, so we will look forward to evaluating that.


  1. I think the Cursive Success book (the next one) has more work on capital letters.

    I've been happy with HWT, too. This year I had one using Printing Power and Cursive Handwriting, one using Cursive Success, and an older (12yo) student using the relatively new Can-Do Cursive (for use after Cursive Success) this year. I especially liked this last one, and it was a good way to keep him practicing, without seeming too "young." It covers some grammar and other topics, too. My soon-to-be 11yo will use it this coming year.

    I also agree about the name being a misnomer - we have had some tears in the past, but overall much less than with previous programs. I also don't use the teacher's manual, and don't really "teach" the program - my kids just follow the directions on each page. I was surprised to hear my kids say that handwriting is their favorite subject, but I think it's because it is pretty easy for them and they finish it quickly. I suppose that's good.

  2. I had to give up HWT. It caused continual tears at our house. I think that the format of the HWT paper was too confusing for my daughter who had been using traditional primary paper during the year that she was in a charter Montessori program.