Sunday, February 24, 2013

TOS Review - Handwriting Without Tears - 2nd Grade

Here's to the kick off of a new review year! 
 I'm looking forward to all the cool things I'll be blessed to share with you.  And, we're off.... 

Many moons ago, when I was a classroom teacher, I used the Handwriting Without Tears Pre-K/Kindergarten material, so I was excited for the opportunity to try out their products for 2nd grade.   HWT uses short (15 minute), teacher directed, developmentally sequenced lessons based on a multisensory approach (visual/tactile/auditory/kinesthetic) to teach letter formation and writing.  This review is based on the 2nd grade material that we were given:

 Includes Printing Power and Kick Start Cursive workbooks, $10.25. 
(Both can be purchased individually if you choose not to introduce cursive.)
My musings:
I love any curricula that includes a multisensory element to their material.  I think that stems from my background working with students that had various Special Needs and the hours spent adapting any materials used to accommodate their wide range of learning abilities.  It also helps me meet Julianna's learning styles:  tactile/kinesthetic/visual. I'm happy to tell you that HWT delivers.  Handwriting has gone from a much dreaded (for both the student and teacher) part of our day to one that is worked on without (well, at least much less) complaint.  That alone gives the program a gold star in my book!
Too many times I have discovered that the Teacher's Guides that come with curricula are pretty much worthless (my humble opinion, of course), but I would highly recommend getting the Teacher Guide for HWT.  It is chock full of all kinds of beneficial information and tips. It also provides a passcode that gives you access an online section called A Click Away that includes CD and workbook downloads, video clips, and home links. Each lesson lists the target objective, the actual lesson plan, additional learning suggestions and a connections section that ties the lesson to another subject or a video or home link (this is where the online access comes in handy). The academic skills that are covered in the 2nd grade workbook are:  letters, words and sentences, writing activities (grammar, proper sentence/paragraph formation), numbers, and cursive, if you choose to start teaching it.
The first section of the TG has Foundation Skills activities to reinforce the handwriting skills that have previously been learned including paper positioning and pencil grips.  I have never held my pencil correctly (in the traditional tripod grip), so I was thrilled to see that the long thought of "wrong" way that I hold my pencil is now considered a "correct" grip!  Woohoo!  Redemption for years of educational condemnation. 

The lessons are great for Julianna because they are not too daunting and are a little different each day.  Some of the lessons have a check off box for a specified letter or copied word that the student picks as the best.  She loved that!  I'm going to start covering the word, so she doesn't know which one it is until they are all copied. 

I started with a different handwriting program at the beginning of the year, but now that we've started this one, we're just going to continue on.  We are working our way through the Printing Power workbook, but haven't started the Kick Start Cursive yet.  I think I might work a couple lessons in this week to see how it goes.

Handwriting Without Tears offers Get Ready for School products for Preschoolers and HWT for Kindergarten through 5th grade.  The K-4 levels have been updated to align with Common Core State Standards (a selling point for the public schools, but not something most homeschoolers are concerned with).  They have also just introduced a new iPad/Android app called Wet-Dry-Try that teaches capital letters and numbers.

If you are in the market for a handwriting program for your early childhood student, check out Handwriting Without Tears.


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