Handwriting doesn’t have to be a nightmare for students…or their parents.
With an easy to use, structured format, activity-rich lessons and strong multisensory component, if you’re looking for an effective, engaging and even fun way to help a student learn to write by hand, Handwriting Without Tears might be just the solution you’re looking for.
What We Like
But watch out for…
What Is Handwriting Without Tears?
Created by Learning Without Tears, a leading provider of accessible and easy to teach learning materials, Handwriting Without Tears is a handwriting program aimed at preschool students and up.
Designed by occupational therapist Jan Olsen, Handwriting Without Tears systematically teaches students everything from the proper pencil holding through correctly writing letters, numbers, sentences, cursive and more.
The program teaches through a combination of workbook exercises, hands-on activities and even music and song, and consequently has become a very popular program for traditional schools and homeschools alike.
What Grades Or Ages Is The Program Intended For?
Handwriting Without Tears is largely a curriculum aimed at students in K-5.
That said, it is more of a skill-based program than one intended for a particular age or grade range.
That is, rather than having a book for Grades 1, 2 or 3, there are books that cover readiness and pre-reading skills, capitals and lowercase, letter groups, words, numbers, cursive and more, with lessons, exercises and activities that match different levels of skill development and fluency.
Consequently, the program can more easily be used by those outside of a traditional age range for handwriting instruction, which is actually pretty helpful as students tend to develop differently.
Precocious students who take to handwriting can feel more free to move through the various books as their skills progress, while those who are a bit behind or have learning difficulties can take their time and work on the fundamentals without feeling as embarrassed since there are no obvious references to grade or age.
This focus on skill means that the books in the Handwriting Without Tears tend to have a rather unique naming system.
Rather than referring to recommended grades or ages, they have different titles that somewhat relate to their main content.
|Title||Approximate Grade||Topics covered|
|My First School Book||Pre-K||Writing readiness, coloring, counting, identifying shapes, tracing and more|
|Kick-Start Kindergarten||Pre-K to K||Continuing writing readiness, first letter formations, uppercase, lowercase letters|
|Letters & Numbers for Me||Kindergarten||Uppercase, lowercase letters, finger tracing and on lined paper, students start writing numbers.|
|My Printing Book||Grade 1||Students review upper and lower case, work on spacing and begin writing words and sentences, emphasizing letter cases.|
|Printing Power||Grade 2||Students work on their print writing, doing copywork and begin to write on single lines.|
|Cursive Kickoff||Grade 2/3||Students begin to learn cursive upper- and lowercase letters in transition from print to cursive.|
|Cursive Handwriting||Grade 3||Students review cursive letters, begin to do copywork in cursive.|
|Cursive Success||Grade 4||Students begin more intensive practice with cursive copywork, working on more complex sentences and paragraphs,|
|Can-Do Print/Can-Do Cursive||Grade 5||Students progress to more challenging writing in either cursive or print form, tackling different writing tasks such as paragraphs, letters and even poetry|
As can be seen by these titles, there is something of a progression of skill throughout the series.
Earlier in the series, students learn the very basics of letter formation and handwriting and then progress through learning print writing, developing their printing skills, before tackling cursive and then honing these skills through more complex exercises in later books.
As with other skill-based curricula, however, this does mean those that transition into Handwriting Without Tears from another handwriting program can find it a little less intuitive to figure out where to start.
Because there is no obvious and direct correlation to grade or age, homeschooling parents need to make an honest assessment of their child’s skill level, which itself requires a bit of thought and knowledge about the student.
To make things a little easier, Learning Without Tears offers a type of placement test that parents can use, which they call their Screener of Handwriting Proficiency, which can be downloaded online.
Parents coming into Handwriting Without Tears can also use it to figure out where their students are strong and where they need help, which in turn can help when selecting the appropriate book from the series.
Unfortunately, while accessible to homeschool parents, it requires parents to set up a free account using their email.
To use it, parents set up an account and select an administration packet based on an approximate grade level or skill (beginning print, intermediate print, beginning cursive, etc).
Parents give students a short quiz sheet, where students are given different tasks depending on their assumed level of skill. Kindergarten students are assessed on their ability to find letters and numbers, 2nd Grade students are given letter, number and short sentence tasks, while more advanced students may have to identify and write in cursive.
The assessments are pretty straightforward and easy to administer, in our opinion, even for parents who have never homeschooled before.
While pretty obviously designed for classrooms and teacher/professional use, they do include a homeschool option.
The instructions are fully scripted, providing parents with a ready, proctor-style dialogue to use as well as detailed, step-by-step instructions for the test’s administration.
When it comes to scoring and evaluation, the Screener offers pretty detailed information concerning what parents should be looking for and offers pretty clear examples and illustrations of what to watch out for (both good and bad), which is quite helpful.
On the downside, the Screener is set up as an self-administered and grade leveled assessment.
As a result, parents of students who are very behind or who really just don’t know where their student would otherwise fit in a traditional school framework may still find themselves hunting around the different grade levels and reading a few different assessment options to figure out where to start with the assessment itself.
What’s Required To Teach With Handwriting Without Tears?
As with other educational programs, there is a teacher’s guide for Handwriting Without Tears.
These spiral bound books are printed in color and are a couple hundred pages long.
As might be expected, the teacher’s guide contains full lesson plans for each handwriting lesson, outlining lesson objectives and required materials, as well as providing step-by-step guidance, detailed illustrations and suggested dialogues.
Given the very visual nature of handwriting, and the fact that the workbooks often contain a step by step diagram of letter and word formation, some parents can world directly from the workbooks and make do without these formal lesson plans.
Other parents, such as those who are new to homeschooling, are teaching students who are struggling or are unsure of their own ability to teach proper handwriting techniques, can certainly benefit from the structure and teaching tips that these teacher’s guides provide.
It’s also important to note that the teacher’s guides contain a lot more than just lesson plans.
They also contain enrichment ideas, support and tips for differentiation and English Language Learners, as well as offering suggestions for linking a lesson to broader language arts learning and other social studies courses.
They also contain various activities, which can make Handwriting Without Tears a far more engaging and dynamic program, allowing students to get up, move around and enjoy their learning a lot more.
One thing we found interesting and, honestly, kind of cool was that lessons often include a scannable QR code.
Once scanned with a smartphone, these QR codes open to the Learning With Tears Website and offer parents a variety of helpful resources for teaching that level’s lessons, including videos, lyrics to songs, various printables, digital worksheets, enrichment activities and more.
These extra resources can provide a lot of value and in many cases make lessons a lot more fun and engaging than a typical copywork-based handwriting program might offer.
They can also offer important tips for instruction that can be useful for some parents, such as further remediating the learning or making sure that left-handed students are progressing without any bad habits.
One thing parents should note is that these teaching guides, while certainly useful, can be extremely detailed and activity-rich.
While this may be no problem for most homeschooling parents, who are often used to taking what they need from a curriculum, these guides can be a little overwhelming for some newer homeschooling parents, particularly those who are simply looking for handwriting practice.
Student Edition Workbooks
What is effectively the heart of Handwriting Without Tears, the student guide is where students put pen to paper and practice their letter formation and handwriting.
These books are consumable, printed in black and white and are well-illustrated and straightforward to use.
Each worksheet contains a good amount of illustrated instruction, clearly outlining what is expected of the student, and generally providing a highly detailed review of how students should approach letter, sentence and number formation, both in print and cursive.
Because they are so straightforward and detailed, they can be (and are, by some parents at least) used independently of the teacher’s guides as a main form of instruction or in tandem with another program.
That said, the student editions sometimes make reference to activities outlined in the teacher’s guides and so those using them alone may miss out on some of this extra (and fun) learning.
One thing that we like about the student workbooks is that they open flat, rather than curving, and so are a little easier for left handed kids to use compared to other programs out there.
Slate and Other Handwriting Tools and Manipulatives
In addition to its workbook exercises, Handwriting Without Tears includes a variety of hands-on exercises using different learning tools and manipulatives, which make learning a bit more interactive, engaging and even fun for students compared to many other programs.
Below, we discuss some of the more interesting ones we found.
One of the more central manipulatives used in the program, the Handwriting Without Tears Slate is a 4”x6” wood-framed chalkboard that is used to help students learn to properly write letters and numbers.
The slate is designed to work with the Handwriting Without Tears program, giving students an opportunity and space to work on letter and number formation outside of the workbooks and formal lessons, letting them strengthen their skills and develop proper writing habits.
The slate is periodically referenced in lessons and workbook exercises and, being essentially a chalkboard, it is designed to be pretty intuitive to use.
In fact, there is a big smiley face on the top left corner, emphasizing the top-down/left-right directionality of proper penmanship.
It is also integral to the program’s interesting Wet-Dry-Try practice activities, where students use a wet sponge to “trace” a letter with water, dry it with a cloth and then try their hand at writing the letter with chalk.
Interestingly, there is an app-based version of the slate available, which digitally replicates the slate chalkboard.
With the app, students use their fingers on the touchscreen to write with virtual “chalk,” and try their hand at a digital version of the Wet Dry Try activity using a virtual wet sponge.
Although not quite as tactile and physical as the real life version, the app is perhaps a little more travel-friendly and parents might appreciate the lack of chalk dust and residue after lessons.
Stamp and See Screen
Handwriting Without Tears also offers a Stamp and See Screen, which is a magnetic screen about the size of the Slate (4”x6”) and is essentially a magnetic drawing screen or Magna Doodle that has been configured for use with this program.
Students use it much like a chalkboard, drawing letters with a chunky, magnetized, chalk-like stylus and can erase what they’ve done with a sliding eraser located on the side of the device.
In this way it is much like the Slate chalkboard, only without the mess and without the ability to do Wet-Dry-Try activities.
Wooden Letter Shapes
Interestingly, Handwriting Without Tears also offers a set of big, wooden shapes – big lines, little lines, big curves and little curves.
Students can use these shapes to “build” letters on a table and even use them in tandem with the Stamp and See Screen, kind of like a giant Magna Doodle stamp.
Using these shapes to build letters lets kids work on their lettering in a very hands-on, interactive way and without putting pen to paper (or chalk to board) and can make for an interesting, 3D activity of sorts.
Handwriting Without Tears Approach To Handwriting
Developed by occupational therapists, rather than educators or curriculum developers, Handwriting Without Tears approaches teaching handwriting skills a little differently than most companies out there.
Handwriting Without Tears is designed to follow what the company calls a developmental teaching order.
In other words, the program has been designed in a specific way, presenting the teaching material while taking into account how students learn and how they develop cognitively and physically.
The series starts off with the easiest and most fundamental skills and slowly builds on that as it progresses through the series.
In Handwriting Without Tears students learn uppercase before lowercase, block before cursive, and learn letters according to similarity of formation rather than alphabetical order (more on that later).
Further, in the earlier books of the series, students are given gray blocks to write their letters in, providing them with a defined space to work in, helping them develop good habits of size control and proportion when writing by hand.
Later on, as students get more used to working with white space, they move on to more traditional, two-lined worksheets and then single-line worksheets.
The books are also designed to be as clear and simple to look at as possible, which is great for younger kids, and, interestingly, reinforce left-to-right directionality of writing by having all illustrations and drawing go from left to right across the page, helping students get in the habit of tracking words (and later write them) in the correct direction.
Handwriting Without Tears is also a very systematic handwriting program.
That is, it provides very specific, very clear and simple step-by-step instruction throughout all aspects of pre-writing and writing, providing not only explicit direction on how to form letters and numbers according to a specific methodology, but also providing pretty detailed and precise instructions for proper posture, pencil holding and more.
As a more practical example, when students are taught to write a certain letter, they are expected to follow a pretty precise sequence of steps, often being told precisely where to start with a dot.
The idea is to provide students with a handwriting base, rooted in occupational therapy best practices, that will help prevent issues before they start, rather than allowing students to work things out naturally and correcting any issues later.
While some homeschooling students and parents may chafe somewhat at this directive, fundamental and more rules-based approach to handwriting, it does provide parents with a firm and consistent teaching methodology that they can more easily implement.
Handwriting Without Tears is a strongly multisensory handwriting program, as well, engaging far more of a student’s senses than simply pencil-paper skills.
Aside from handwriting practice, throughout its lessons students can work with various manipulatives, such as wooden blocks or magnet boards, engage in a variety of activities, such as doing Wet-Dry-Try or working with playdough or cards, and even engage in song and rhythmic movement.
Aside from making handwriting practice and learning far more engaging and fun for the student, there is evidence that engaging more pathways in the brain can better help students remember and recall information.
A multisensory also makes Handwriting Without Tears better suited to students with different learning preferences or styles.
Whether a student learns best through written work, listening, touching or getting up and moving around, they are pretty likely to find at least some activities that work for them in this program.
In addition, by shifting handwriting practice away from solely traditional pencil and paper practice, the program can be less intimidating for students who initially find holding and using a pencil difficult, allowing them to work on their letter formation in a more adaptable and less frustrating way.
Finally, and one thing that we find interesting about Handwriting Without Tears, is that it can be fairly multidisciplinary.
In addition to straightforward handwriting practice, the program also offers various exercises and activities that integrate with other subjects and topics the student may be learning.
For example, there can be exercises that work on grammar and mechanics, with students learning and working on synonyms, homophones, root words, rhyming words, singular/plural and more, as well as the occasional exercise that incorporates things from broader social studies lessons, such as geography.
Although Handwriting Without Tears doesn’t really dive too deeply into these other topics (it is a handwriting program after all), this does mean it can be a little more of a natural fit for homeschoolers and can be incorporated into a student’s studies in a number of different ways.
How It Works
Handwriting Without Tears is designed to be parent-led, with parents introducing and presenting information to the student.
In later grades and as students’ reading skills improve, however, we feel students can do a lot of the work more independently, particularly given the clear instructions and illustrations in the workbooks.
The books’ are broken up into different units, made up of 4-5 lessons and a unit review, which is a kind of exercise page that assesses how well a student has mastered the different letters and skills taught in that unit.
The program’s lessons are pretty consistent, straightforward and tend to follow a particular format.
They are also pretty short, typically taking around 15 minutes or so to complete, so they’re not as overwhelming for younger students as other programs can be.
At the top of each page, the objectives, multisensory activities and multimedia resources (QR Code) are all neatly laid out, providing parents with a clear overview of the lesson and what’s required to teach it.
The lesson then begins and goes through a three-step process of instruction:
First, parents themselves actively demonstrate how a letter is formed. Following the instructions laid out in the lesson guide, they verbalize each step of the process as they draw each stroke.
At this stage, parents can also take advantage of the many multisensory activities found in the lesson guides.
Many lessons have a particular activity associated with them, and their particular page numbers are listed clearly at the top of the page, so parents should have no trouble finding them.
Generally the activity guides are found towards the back of the lesson guides and are pretty clearly laid out, providing a good deal of background about the activity, its objectives, what materials are required and how to go about implementing it.
Following this, students then practice under the watchful eye of their parent, tracing the letter (by hand and then with a pencil) and following the same step by step approach the parent just demonstrated, all the while verbalizing what they are doing, which can further strengthen their learning.
Independent Practice and Check – After the guided practice, students can work on their handwriting and, later, writing independently.
Then (with their parents at first) check their written work for proper sequencing, size, placement and so on.
Following the lesson, optional learning is laid out for parents. There are ideas for enrichment, differentiation for English Language Learners and those struggling with handwriting, and some activity ideas that connect topics in the lesson to other subjects the student might be learning (usually Language Arts but occasionally other Social Studies subjects as well).
Handwriting Without Tears Letter Order
One thing that parents should be aware of, and that tends to separate Handwriting Without Tears from other programs, is the order in which it presents the alphabet.
Most programs tend to introduce letters according to alphabetical order, generally following how students would have learned them in the first place, and generally students are taught the uppercase and lowercase formats together (or one after the other).
In other words, lessons tend to go from A to Z.
In Handwriting Without Tears, however, letters are instead grouped according to how the program wants them to be constructed, i.e. how they are supposed to be written from start point to end point.
For example, students might work on so-called “Frog Jump Capitals” – i.e. the letters F E D P B R N and M.
These letters are grouped together since they are drawn starting with a big line on he left, starting at the top and moving down before jumping back to the top and moving rightwards, as demonstrated in the video below.
Similarly, the capital letters H K L U V W X Y Z are grouped together as “Starting Corner Capitals,” since students start at the top left corner, before moving down/left to right.
As the series progresses, it groups various capital letters and lowercase letters in similar ways, both in block and cursive print.
Across the series there are, for example:
- Diver Letters
- Center Starters
- Slide letters
- Tow Truck Letters
- And more
This grouping system, while perhaps a little unusual for parents and students used to thinking of letters in relation to their alphabetical order, is actually in line with the program’s developmental approach to teaching.
When it comes to writing by hand, the alphabet can be something of a jumble of different techniques and forms, some are easier to draw while others are harder.
This is especially true with cursive, considering its now less familiar shapes and issues students have when joining different letters.
By breaking the alphabet apart and regrouping the letters by how they are formed, Handwriting Without Tears can start by introducing the easiest to draw ones first before moving on to the more complex, making the system actually pretty thoughtful.
It also makes the program quite useful for students who struggle with handwriting, as by letting them work on easier letter formations first, they can achieve some quick wins that can boost their self-confidence and perhaps reduce their anxiety around handwriting a little more.
Our Thoughts on Handwriting Without Tears Lessons
Overall, we feel that Handwriting Without Tears lessons are very effective, well-designed and can be very engaging, especially for students who struggle with handwriting or who may otherwise roll their eyes at the prospect of pen-and-paper writing in the digital age.
The lessons are short and to the point, often taking less than 15 minutes to go through, so they’re not too much of a burden to fit into even a busy homeschool schedule and aren’t so long that students get bored or lose interest.
The program’s lessons are also very straightforward, moving from introduction of a letter to guided practice to independent practice pretty fluidly.
The instruction is also very clear, providing parents and students with easy to understand, step-by-step instructions for producing letters and offers plenty of helpful illustrations that can make things a lot more understandable and act as a model against which parents can check student work.
Although the program does offer activity options for each lesson, these don’t really ever feel like busywork, and they can add a lot of value to the learning, particularly with kids who have different learning preferences (tactile and auditory learners, for example) and can be a change from more workbook-oriented programs, such as A Reason For Handwriting, Zaner-Bloser and others.
Handwriting Without Tears offers a good deal of practice, as well, offering a good amount of guided and independent practice in each lesson and providing a unit review after every few lessons.
In this way, it can be a very helpful program for students who need a lot more practice and reinforcement when learning fine motor skills.
One thing we enjoyed about the lesson plans was their integration of technology through the printed QR codes.
By simply scanning the page (or inputting a provided url) parents can immediately access a wide variety of multimedia digital resources that can add some fun and useful activities, exercises, videos and songs to use during a lesson.
Through these QR codes there’s no need for parents to move to a computer and hunt around for files or websites, they can simply use their phone or tablet and access the materials right away.
Another thing we found interesting about Handwriting Without Tears is how flexible it can be for homeschooling parents, something that surprised us given the program’s systematic, rules-based nature.
While the program offers a lot of options for activities, as well as extra exercises for remediation or enrichment learning, parents are largely free to choose what they would like to include in their lessons.
Depending on time constraints, as well as how distractible a student is, parents can choose to include all, some or none of the activities recommended by the book.
Some parents have focused solely on the workbook exercises and, while probably not the most engaging, recommended or comprehensive way of using the program, have reported finding handwriting success with their students.
There are some things about Handwriting Without Tears that we feel parents should be aware of before starting, however.
It is, for example, very different from many other handwriting programs out there.
It is a very structured, detailed and rules-based approach that teaches students a very particular and explicitly taught method of forming letters and numbers, providing detailed instruction on everything from size, proportion, stroke method and directionality, and even covers things like proper posture and grip.
While very helpful and effective for most students (and parents who have never taught handwriting before), some other students and homeschooling parents may chafe a bit under this structured and systematic approach, preferring a program that offers a little more individual creativity and freedom.
Similarly, students who have gone through a large part of a handwriting program already and have learned certain habits may not appreciate having to go back and relearn some of the fundamental methods of the program.
Another, admittedly minor, issue homeschooling parents may have is with how the books are structured.
By and large, the activities, tips and guidelines are all located in different sections of the book, meaning there can be some flipping around during lessons.
Finally, parents should note that the lesson guides are quite detailed and expansive.
While this makes the lessons very comprehensive, clear and easy to teach, at times it can be a lot of information for homeschool parents to take in, and can be a little overwhelming for some and it can be somewhat easy for those not used to homeschooling to get distracted by all the information, potential exercises and activities.
How Easy Is Handwriting Without Tears To Teach?
Handwriting Without Tears is very easy to teach in our opinion.
The lessons are fully scripted, providing parents with all the information they’ll need to introduce topics and teach them in a step-by-step manner, including a ready dialogue they can fall back on if they aren’t really sure about how to explain things themselves.
Further, the program’s lesson guides and workbooks are illustrated, providing an easy to understand visual guide that effectively outlines each step in the handwriting process very clearly for both parents and young students.
The activities themselves are similarly well scripted, detailed and illustrated, making it quite easy for parents to quickly and easily set up and run them with a minimum of prep-time.
As a result, we feel that new and experienced homeschooling parents alike should have no issue teaching Handwriting Without Tears.
On the downside, however, while the program is fairly easy to teach once parents get used to it, its format, letter grouping and methodology does take some getting used to on the part of parents, who would probably be best served by reading up on the program’s structure and way of doing things.
Pros And Cons
Developed by topical experts
Rather than being developed by a curriculum provider or educational company, Handwriting Without Tears has been developed by occupational therapists and teaches in a way that takes into account the development path and needs of kids.
Consequently, the program isn’t just based on best practices, it’s also not as frustrating for kids, particularly for those who struggle with learning to write by hand, as some other programs might be.
Lessons in Handwriting Without Tears are pretty short, usually under 15 minutes or so depending on the student. As a result, they aren’t as overwhelming for students to sit through and can be easy to fit into just about any homeschool schedule.
Very multisensory and activity-rich
Handwriting Without Tears isn’t just a worksheet and copywork based program, but rather involves a variety of multisensory activities that can fit different learning preferences.
There are, for example, a variety of manipulatives and games that can suit tactile learners, songs and videos to suit auditory and visual learners and get and and go activities to suit those who enjoy more kinesthetic learning.
Easy to teach
With clear, step-by-step, fully-scripted and illustrated lessons, Handwriting Without Tears is easy for parents to teach and for students to understand.
Very guided approach helps build good habits from the start
Handwriting Without Tears takes a very systematic and rules-based approach to teaching handwriting, guiding students through a deliberate and consistent step-by-step approach to writing out letters.
Combined with its strong emphasis on practice and review, it can more easily get them in the habit of creating properly sized, spaced and drawn letters from the start.
Embedded links to digital resources
Rather than inserting printed URLs or webpage names, the program’s lesson guides include readily-scannable QR codes that link to a variety of helpful digital resources, making it a lot easier and faster for parents to include these in their lessons.
Flexible and scalable to suit homeschool needs
Although it offers a lot of activities, teaching suggestions and enrichment ideas, by and large Handwriting Without Tears leaves the decision of what to use up to the parent and relies on a fairly lightweight core of workbooks exercises and quick, step by step lessons.
Its teaching can easily therefore be as comprehensively scaled up or paired down as parents require or would prefer.
Can have a few moving parts to keep track of
Parents who want to take full advantage of the program and its multitude of multisensory components and activities can find that, as with other hands-on learning programs, there can be a lot of things to buy and keep track of during lessons, such as slates, chalk, magnet boards, wooden shapes, apps, playdough, CDs and more.
Can be a little different than how most parents learned handwriting
Handwriting Without Tears has a very definite way of teaching handwriting, as well as grouping and introducing letters, that can be very different from the more traditional ways parents have been taught to write.
As a result, parents may need to spend some time, at least at first, reading about the program’s methodology and familiarizing themselves with its lesson structure.
Who Is Handwriting Without Tears Ideal For?
Parents and students looking for a fun, activity-rich way of learning handwriting
With its plethora of hands-on activities, digital resources and manipulatives use, Handwriting Without Tears can be a very engaging way of learning to write by hand, making it a lot more fun for parents and students to use than other programs.
Students who have had a hard time with traditional copywork-style handwriting programs
Some students can learn handwriting by simply copying sentences and letter forms, but for a variety of reasons other students can have a hard time with this, finding it tedious and/or preferring to learn in other ways.
In addition to traditional workbook exercises, Handwriting Without Tears offers a variety of multisensory teaching activities that can be really effective for tactile, auditory and kinesthetic learners.
Parents looking for an easy to teach, step by step handwriting program
Handwriting Without Tears teaches its material clearly and simply, with lots of helpful illustrations, a fully scripted dialogue, and easy to follow, step-by-step instructions for producing letters.
Consequently, parents who are new to homeschooling or who are unsure of their ability to teach handwriting themselves will likely find it quite easy and effective to use.
Students who do best with lots of practice and review
Some students have an easy time learning to write by hand, while others struggle with the fine motor control required.
In addition to providing students with a consistent, step-by-step process for producing letters, Handwriting Without Tears also provides them with lots of opportunities for practice and review, both in their workbook and through engaging multisensory activities, which can help them hone their skills over time.
Students who have a hard time sitting through longer lessons
Handwriting Without Tears lessons are usually pretty short, often taking less than 15 minutes to complete. Consequently, students tend to have an easier time going through them without losing focus or becoming bored.
Who Is It Not Ideal For?
Students who are already somewhat proficient at handwriting
Students who have made significant progress in another program and have developed strong habits in creating some of their letters may have a harder time adapting to the particular way of doing things outlined in Handwriting Without Tears, often needing to go back to earlier levels to relearn/undo certain habits, which can be frustrating.
Parents looking for a complete self-study program
Although students can use some of the materials more independently later in the series, by and large Handwriting Without Tears is designed to be taught to students and requires a fair amount of parental involvement and time.
Parents and students who want a handwriting program that lets them develop more naturally
Handwriting Without Tears is a very systematic program that teaches students how to create letters in a particular, step-by-step way.
It will, for example, detail where to start with a first stroke, where to end, directionality and so on, rather than allowing students to find their own preferred and natural way of doing things.
As a result, students who like to do things their own way and parents who want to take a more natural, student-led approach to teaching may not find this to be a good fit for them.
Note: Prices correct as of writing. All prices are in USD.
As mentioned previously, Handwriting Without Tears can involve a number of different books, but generally involves a level-specific teacher’s guide, student workbook and some manipulatives.
Pricing for the books in the series can be dependent on the precise retailer involved, the edition involved and any sales or discounts that may apply.
That said, student guides typically cost around $11.85, while teacher’s guides tend to cost around $24.99.
In terms of manipulatives, again it varies between the specific physical product (and the company offers quite a few), but in general they can be picked up for around:
Slate chalkboard – $5.25
Stamp and See- $15.50
Double lined blackboard – $14.95
Wood pieces set for capitals – $32.95
As always, it is important to check for current pricing and any deals or offers that may be in effect.
Is It Worth The Price?
Overall, we feel that Handwriting Without Tears can add a lot of value to homeschooling parents and students.
The books are well-designed, easy to teach and, most importantly, easy for students to learn from with clear, structured and step-by-step instructions, diagrams and a logically laid out, developmentally appropriate curriculum structure.
More than that the series makes learning handwriting a lot more engaging for students, going beyond a traditional workbook methodology to help them learn to write by hand using song, movement and lots of different activities and manipulatives.
In this way, Handwriting Without Tears can suit a wider variety of learning preferences and can make learning handwriting a lot more approachable for students who struggle with it.
Finally, while there are all kinds of activities offered by the program, in the end it is a very flexible curriculum to use.
Parents can choose to use all of the various manipulatives and provide their students with a complete multisensory experience, or choose to use none of them at all and work mainly through the illustrated workbook.
Handwriting doesn’t have to be a nightmare for students…or their parents.
With an easy to use, structured format, activity-rich lessons and strong multisensory component, if you’re looking for an effective, engaging and even fun way to help a student learn to write by hand, Handwriting Without Tears might be just the solution you’re looking for.
About the Author
Anne Miller is the editor of The Smarter Learning Guide and is a passionate advocate for education and educational technology. A mom of two, she majored in English Language and Literature and worked as a substitute teacher and tutor for several years. When not writing she continues to root for the Yankees and the Giants.