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Handwriting Without Tears

What a concept. Yes, it is possible. If you’re looking for a painless and pleasant handwriting curriculum then you’ve come to the right place.  I’ll explain why Handwriting Without Tears is your easiest, most affordable option.

If you’ve run into trouble with handwriting, keep reading.  Sloppy handwriting is one of the most common problems parents of elementary students struggle with.  Is your child reversing letters or confusing b and p?  (Skip ahead to “Letter Reversals.”)  Has your child’s handwriting recently gotten worse instead of better?  (Skip ahead to “Wow!  What Happened?”)

Using Handwriting Without Tears can help with those problems, but it’s not the total solution.  There are tricks and tips that can allow you to teach handwriting with confidence.  I’ll start with pre-writing skills and end with refining cursive penmanship.  Along the way I’ll cover common problems and solutions.  I’ve been through the process from start to finish with quite a few kids.  While each child is unique, there are some tried and true solutions that work for most.

Getting Ready to Write

Children are ready to learn to write when the have developed a pincer grip, color roughly between the lines in both small circular movements as well as back and forth movements, and can trace simple shapes with reasonable accuracy.  Many children are already there by the age of four.  Others are not.  It’s no big deal either way.

If your child isn’t ready by four, many parents simply wait a year.  That’s a perfectly reasonable option, but if you’re worried about it and you’d like your child to be ready for a Pre-Kindergarten handwriting curriculum, there are steps you can take to move things along.

You can encourage your child’s pincer grip with an old-fashioned game of Pick-Up-Sticks.  Another toy that helps with the pincer grip is Lace and Trace sets like the one to the left.  The key to making these toys work is that you need to actually play with the child and model the behavior you’re seeking.  You want your child to imitate your pincer grip.  Make it fun and praise your child as he progresses.

Handwriting Without TearsThe same goes for the skill of coloring between the lines with circular as well as back and forth strokes.  Find or print out coloring pages with very simple shapes.  Sit down with your child and model the behaviors you’re looking for.  Tracing with accuracy is easiest to achieve by buying tracing paper and encouraging your child to trace pictures from their story books or characters they’d like to color.  You can help affix the tracing paper to the book with Scotch removable magic tape.   These activities are fun for you and the child.  Relax and enjoy the play.  Your child will be ready in no time.

He’s Ready, But is it Time?

498356: My First School Book--Preschool I don’t actually recommend Pre-Kindergarten handwriting programs, but some parents are eager, and so are some children.  If you do choose to help your four year old form letters, I encourage you to teach him how to form them correctly.  There has been a movement in recent decades to encourage children to write but not to show them how.  There’s also been a lot of complaining about children’s handwriting!   You can head a lot of this off by starting with a developmentally appropriate program that encourages your kid to have fun, teaches him a few skills and does not teach him anything that needs to be unlearned.  This is why I recommend Handwriting Without Tears, even on the Pre-K level.  This very affordable program has a workbook is just right for a four year old child.

Letter Reversals

My “day job’ is teaching children who are struggling academically.  Where handwriting is concerned, the biggest problem is unlearning bad habits.  The second biggest problem is letter reversals, largely caused by children who aren’t taught how to form their letters from left to right or to associate the letters with their phonetic sounds.   What do I mean by that?  Well, let me explain.

Please say “bed” slowly as you spell the word in the air with a pretend pencil.  As you made the “bu” sound, did you raise your hand and begin drawing the stem of the b downward, then move your air pencil up and around to form the bulb of the b?  When you made the “eh” sound, did you start in about 1/3 above the bottom line, push your pencil straight forward, then up and around counter-clockwise to finish the round c-shaped portion of the “e?”  As your mouth formed the “du” sound, did you form the round bulb of the d in a counter-clockwise circle, then raise the stem up last?  If you did these things, then you are one of the lucky Americans who benefited from intensive handwriting and phonics instruction.  Children who have been taught to write in this manner don’t reverse their letters.

So when the time is right to teach teaching handwriting, it saves a great deal of trouble if you teach your child how to form his letters as described above.

Kindergarten is a Good Time

to begin Handwriting Without Tears.

Handwriting Without TearsHandwriting Without Tears utilizes the optimal handwriting method I already described. in the previous , fun, developmentally appropriate exercises and other tricks of the trade to get your child started on a lifetime of effortless writing.   I use the program primarily as a corrective program for kids who struggle with reversals and just plain appalling handwriting.  The kids love it because they’re having fun and writing is getting easier by the day.  Their parents are astounded at how much better their child is writing in a very short time.

Yes, you can teach your child excellent handwriting habits with another program, but there is no better program.  It is a remarkably affordable handwriting curriculum that takes all the guesswork out of teaching handwriting.  This is in part due to the sequence of instruction.  The students begin with the very easiest letters, then progress to more challenging shapes.  They learn each letter together with other letters that are similar in shape.  “a,” “d,” and “g” are taught together, and so are “m,” “n,” and “r.”  Your child learns to make the primary phonetic sound that goes with each letter as he practices.  As a result his reading skills are being strengthened too.

Students usually finish their Kindergarten workbooks quite early in the school year.  This is fine, because it gives your child a chance to start using his newly acquired skills to write words.  Recent Research shows that trying to spell words is an important exercise contributes to literacy.  Your child will read earlier and better if he is allowed to express himself the best he can with his newly acquired writing ability, even though his spelling is rudimentary and based on phonics, not sight words.  After your child finishes his workbook, encourage him to color pictures and write in his journal every day.  He’ll retain his writing skills and advance faster in reading if you do.

First Grade is Time

Handwriting Without TearsFor more of the same!  First graders refresh their memories and refine their skills in handwriting.  First grade is a busy time developmentally.  Kids’ minds have a lot of growing to do.  Handwriting Without Tears grows along with the children, with exercises that are just a bit more challenging and fast paced than last year’s.  Kids generally buzz right through their workbooks and begin practicing creative and expressive writing.  A lot of their energy is devoted to learning to read, count fluently and add.  Addition and counting are both much easier when children form their numbers correctly.  Kids who have learned their numbers through the Handwriting Without Tears program have an easier time with math, because they aren’t constantly thinking about how to form their numbers neatly.  They have total mastery of this and can simply focus on counting and adding.

By the end of this year you’ll see that your child has mastered printing and can write fluently, without even thinking about it.

Cursive Can Begin in Second Grade

and can be mastered in the third grade.  Handwriting Without Tears provides a printing workbook for the second grade, just to make sure kids have solid mastery of the skills.  As always, kids can buzz through this workbook pretty quickly.  They usually have it done by Christmas.  This leaves the rest of the school year free for cursive, if you so desire.

Is Cursive Dead?

Handwriting Without TearsThere was a time when I wondered.  It seemed so reasonable that younger people would not need to use cursive.  I taught my children cursive, but privately I wondered if they would use this skill later in life.

As they neared the end of high school they filled notebooks with essays and copious written notes and exercises on each of their subjects  “Was it because we homeschooled?” I wondered.  Then, almost before I was ready, the kids went off to college.  The volume of handwritten material increased by leaps and bounds.  It was all in cursive.  Cursive was faster and more fluid.  At the speed they needed to process information, speed was vital.  Their cursive skills were saving their bacon.

Third Grade is the Year of Cursive Mastery

Handwriting Without TearsAlthough there are fourth and fifth grade workbooks as well.   The Handwriting Without Tears cursive system has all the qualities that made learning to print easy.  It also has simple, elegantly formed letters that make writing easy for your child and grading papers easier for you.  Truly, this is handwriting that looks good and is easy to write and read.

Sometimes children whose handwriting seemed perfect suddenly begin doing an awful job.  Naturally you say,

Wow, What Happened?

Usually this sudden dive in the quality of written work coincides with the time when your child is making a big leap in Spelling, Grammar or Composition.  If he’s writing his first words, first sentences or first paragraphs, all his concentration is going into this new and demanding task.  Handwriting goes to heck in a hand basket, and it’s enough to drive a parent-teacher nuts!  Relax, your student isn’t really losing his handwriting skills.  With a little encouragement they will bounce right back when he’s mastered the new Language Arts skill.  If you’re really worried you can try assigning some old-fashioned copy work.   You can also encourage practice in the grade four or five Handwriting Without Tears Workbooks.

There are Other Handwriting Programs,

but there’s a good reason why I’m not discussing them.  Handwriting Without Tears is the easiest, most effective and most economical.

“But there are free handwriting worksheets!” you might say.

There are, but you get what you pay for.  I am recommending Handwriting Without Tears because current research has placed handwriting squarely back in the foundation of a good education.  This program is solid, economical and fun.  It takes minimal time for optimal results.

Handwriting Without Tears is what I recommend for teaching handwriting.  It’s not just the best, it’s so much better than the nearest competition that there’s really no comparison.

Click Here to Buy Handwriting Without Tears Products

In closing

I am a serious Handwriting Without Tears fan.  I used it successfully with my own children and for remedial work with other people’s kids.  It always works.  The children always enjoy it, and parents are always thrilled.

If you have any questions about teaching handwriting or Handwriting Without Tears, please drop me a line.  I’d love to hear from you.  Remember, I’m here for you.  Let me know what you would like to read about next, and what kind of internet resources your homeschool needs to thrive.

All the Best,


Teach Handwriting Without Tears
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Hi Elizabeth,

I am very familiar with Handwriting without tears, due to my daughter having down syndrome. They use this in the classrooms, and they have a similar program on tablets at her school. I would recommend this program was looking to get their younger child, or a child who has disabilities.

My daughter is 10 and she is in 4th grade in a Life Skills classroom, with some regular classes. Her handwriting has truly improved over the years. She knows how to write her full name out. I love it! Thanks for sharing this information!

May 22.2017 | 09:37 pm


Wonderful review Elizabeth. I know why I’ve got your website booked marked in my favourites.
My son, while only three years old, is writing and reading at a kindergarten level. I’m just so amazed with how much he knows.
The problem is that his writing technique and stroke positions are difficult to correct. Especially circular movements. His starting stroke has improved but we are also having a hard time teaching proper word spacing (the 2 finger method between words).
This program looks like something he can grow into and is great value.
I’m also not sure about cursive living on. My wife believes its important, but with older kids now, they all work on laptops and I think it’s a skill that may get lost.

May 23.2017 | 12:22 am


    Hi Vince,

    If your son is having fun with handwriting practice you may want to go ahead and get him the preschool workbook – or not! I sincerely believe that preschool should be about fun and exploration. They are developing so fast at this stage, and learning so very, very much about the world.

    As for cursive – I am totally prepared to be wrong! I just turned 55 on May 10th. I’ve been wrong about so much in my lifetime. If another decade or two passes and people stop writing in cursive, I won’t count it a disaster. Educators may resist a bit however, because there is some enticing recent research that suggests a strong connection between hand-written notes and better understanding and retention.

    Perhaps students entering certain fields of study will retain the practice of cursive, while others will discard it. What I totally love about watching the world change is all the surprises – most of them positive. However people choose to map their new learning in the future, I know it’s going to be powerful and a very positive thing to observe.

    May 23.2017 | 03:29 am


Thank you for telling us about your daughter. It so always encouraging to read about success stories. Everywhere Handwriting Without Tears is used there is a trail of success stories. This is is why I don’t bother to talk about any other programs. Handwriting Without Tears combines all the best practices into an easy-to-use program that does not require special knowledge on the part of the teacher. You just do it and and watch the magic unfold!

May 23.2017 | 03:21 am

Delores Wise

Should I use Handwriting Without Tears for gifted students? I see it works for average kids and kids with disabilities, but is it a waste of time for gifted kids?

May 23.2017 | 06:34 am


    The way I see it, gifted kids deserve effective instruction too! I have a child who was once identified as gifted. She is wonderful, but I decided to simply treat her like any other homeschooled kid and tailor her curriculum to her needs. She spend less time learning handwriting technique an didn’t need every workbook. That was nice. On the other hand, she used cursive far more than many other people, because she’s academically driven. Her notes are amazing – so good other college students borrow them. She writes a great deal, notebook after notebook full of material.

    I do not regret using the most effective handwriting program available to get her started in the right direction.

    May 23.2017 | 10:52 am


I really appreciate this article on handwriting and how to help my little one improve his skills. I have a first grader, and he has learned some really bad habits, that somehow I need to get him to unlearn. I am going to put some of your ideas into practice. Thank you!

May 24.2017 | 03:31 am


    I feel your pain there. Unlearning is so much harder than learning! Let me know about the specifics, and I’ll suggest some exercises. Most of it can be fixed, particularly letter reversals. There are some exercises that are pretty pleasant for both you and the child.

    All the Best,


    May 24.2017 | 03:45 am

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