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Getting Started with Handwriting Without Tears

Max – who is seven – has atrocious handwriting. Horrible, illegible, erratic handwriting. Also, he hates to write. Any task that requires more writing than his name at the top of the paper starts fights. Attempts to work on his handwriting begin at sulky and uncooperative and usually end with frustration, noisy grumping, and – yes – tears. Since, unfortunately, most of the school work we are trying to do with him now is extremely writing-dependent, we hit a brick wall. We just could not go on any longer without teaching that boy how to write.

The same homeschool board where I learned about Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons highly recommended Handwriting Without Tears, so I figured I should go for it! However, when I cruised over to Amazon to pick it up, there seemed to be a million different copies. With different titles. And also, there was something about chalkboards, and blocks, and mats, and clay, and I was just left bewildered, wondering, What on earth are these for, and do I really need all of this?!

Fortunately I headed off to the Handwriting Without Tears website instead of blindly picking products off of Amazon – first of all because their products are much cheaper directly from them. Secondly, they explain what all of the different products are for and what age, grade, or readiness level they’re intended for. Based on their explanations I decided to start with the Kindergarten level workbooks, because my kids (I knew Charlie would want in on the sweet, sweet school action, so I just planned on doing lessons with Max and Charlie together) are good readers and can recognize their letters very well, but can definitely use some work on their basic letter writing technique. I also picked up the first and second grade workbooks because I anticipated us going quickly through the initial lessons. The HWT website recommended that I also purchase Teacher’s Guides for each level, plus letter blocks, mats, slate chalkboards, special paper, special notebooks, and a special blackboard, which adds up to a LOT just so I can read Max’s handwriting.

It was good luck (and Google) that sent me to a post by The Pioneer Woman which included warm praise for the program, followed by this paragraph:

Not to be a buzz kill, but I’m just going to be honest and say that I’ve never used anything but the teacher’s guide (which, after you’ve used the program awhile, isn’t even totally necessary) and the student workbook. And I’ve been very happy with the results.

So that decided me. I bought the Kindergarten Teacher’s Guide but not any of the others, and you know what? I’m thrilled.

Look how happy he is.

That picture is blurry, but look how happy he is! That is my son high-fiving the camera, with a smile on his face, during a writing lesson. At the END of an EXTENSIVE first writing lesson.

Also, look at this:

SO LEGIBLE!

I CAN READ ALL OF THOSE. On our FIRST DAY using this! (There is no tracing involved in this method, either.) I don’t know what kind of witchcraft was used to come up with a handwriting lesson that is so fun the kids ask for more, but this thing was worth every penny…even if I did make photocopies so I can use one workbook for all of the kids.

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