Many, many years ago, we tried using the curriculum Handwriting Without Tears with our oldest son (The Batman!). Can I just say that it was an absolute disaster at that time? In fact, we had Handwriting with FLOODS of tears, from both our son and myself, lol! This was NOT in any way a problem with the curriculum, in my opinion. He was simply not ready yet, he didn’t (and still does not) have the fine motor control needed for printing, plus, one of the problems he has as a result of his special needs is very bad shakiness in his hands when attempting to print.
When given the opportunity to review both the 3rd grade student workbook
And the 3rd grade Teacher’s Guide,
I jumped all over it!
The Handwriting Without Tears 3rd Grade Teacher’s Guide can be purchased for $9.25, and the Handwriting Without Tears 3rd Grade Workbook can be purchased for $8.25, and I believe these are very fair prices for what you are getting.
Let me say right here that it is working so much better for him now. As you can see in the picture above, his printing is still (and very likely always will be) just terrible. “The Batman” loves to write notes and stories based on books he’s reading, or about his Nintendo DS games, and you can see what they look like in the picture above . . .
However, THIS is what he is doing in the workbook! This is page 16. We are going quite slowly through the curriculum, because he does need to go at a slow pace.
While the student workbook is not overwhelming at all (maybe 15 or 20 minutes per day), I did find the Teacher’s Guide to be a little bit overwhelming at first, until I realized that a lot of it really is geared to a much younger child, and was not necessary for “The Batman”
There are a good 45 pages of material for the teacher to read before you even get to the actual lesson plans for the student workbook, most of which will be very helpful to the parent of a young child, but were upsetting to my 20 year old developmentally delayed child.
For example, there are activities like the one on page 29, “Stomp Your Feet”, in which you show the child how to stomp his/her feet and wave his/her arms, shout “Na, na, naaaah, na, na, naaah” with you while waving and stomping. You would then have them push and pull their hands, and hug themselves. At the end of the exercise, the child raises the shoulders up, pulls the shoulders back, and lets them down. At this point, the child should be sitting in a more upright position, ready to write.
Throughout the Teacher’s Guide, you’ll find a smiley face icon to visit “A Click Away”, which is a password protected site that is a wonderful resource exclusively for teacher’s guide users. On this site, you’ll see plenty of downloads which are great supplements to handwriting instruction and practice.
On page 23 of the teacher’s guide is a chart giving the scope and sequence of cursive which covers 2nd grade through 5th grade. There are a number of pages giving information from Pre-Instuctional Stages to Instructional Stages, to Posture, Paper & Pencil Grip, the afore-mentioned Stomp Your Feet, to my favorite, The importance of Cursive, which talks about why we should teach cursive in the age of technology.
My son is a lefty, which has always been an issue in writing for him. From page 7 of the Teacher’s Guide, “Our workbooks are lefty friendly. Teaching pages provide models on the left and right so that left-handed children can easily see the model they are copying. Lefties never have to lift their hands or place them in an awkward position to see a model. Children always make their best letter directly beside a model. This design encourages excellent letter practice for both left- and right-handed children.”
My son did, however, copy the models on both provided lines, out of habit, and I can see that his copy on the left is usually better because he can see the example given, whereas when he copies it on the blanks at the far right, he cannot see the model.
I do like the way the curriculum builds in letter groups, giving cursive warm ups for each different concept, such as under and over, up and straight down, up and loop down, and descending loop. These are all movements needed for specific letter groups. The workbook pages goes in the following lower case teaching order:
c, a, d, g
h, t, p
e, l, f,
u, y, i, j
k, r, s
o, w, b, v
x, z, q
Within each of these groups the letters phase easily from one to the next, allowing the child to see how easily they can form each letter by beginning with the previous one. There are little phrases to help them remember the formation of each letter and/or connection, such as “zip the tent” to remember the bottom of the lower case t should be closed, not spread apart. These things are really helpful to my son.
I especially like that the letters are all very similar to printed letters, but adjusted to cursive.
The student workbook is simple, black and white, and uncluttered, another helpful thing when you have (as I do) a highly distractable child. The lessons are fairly short, meaning “The Batman” is willing to do them, and he can see immediately the difference in how his writing can look.
My son and I really like this curriculum, because it is finally something that he can work within. We will continue to go through the 3rd grade book, and he has expressed a willingness to continue on through the subsequent grades as well, which we believe will help him make a major improvement in his handwriting, and if he can remember to go SLOWLY whenever he is writing something, will help him to have legible writing. He is looking forward to writing letters to close friends we haven’t seen since moving here to New Mexico from Michigan this past summer.
I recommend this curriculum for anyone with a child who needs an easier way to learn cursive, whether they be the normal 3rd grade age, or an adult developmentally delayed child like mine.
I reviewed the third grade Teacher’s Guide and the third grade workbook. Check out other crew reviews on K – 3 teacher’s guides and workbooks, along with both Apple apps and Android apps.