December 3, 2010

What Else We've Been Doing: Handwriting

While shapes dominated our math time for a week or so, handwriting has become a staple every single day.

Thanks to numerous commenters who insisted that Handwriting Without Tears was heaven-sent, I took the plunge and bought the kindergarten, first grade, and pre-school books along with some of the special paper and the box of "special" pencils.

I am in love with this program.

Miriam had the worst handwriting on the planet and after only one short month it has improved by 3000%.

I was and am amazed. Seriously amazed. Not only because Miriam's and Cowen's handwriting has improved but because they love to practice their handwriting. One of the most boring subjects on earth and they beg to do extra pages! Incredible.
As for the specific items I purchased, here is a little run-down on how I feel about them.

1) First Grade Book. Yes, Miriam is technically in grade two, but her handwriting was so terrible that I decided we'd better start with some remedial work before moving into her grade level book. I think it was a wise choice. I haven't seen the second grade book to know how similar/different it is, but I am glad that there is another book with which to practice printing before she hits the cursive books. And yes, we'll be sticking with this program for years to come.

2) Kindergarten Book: I am glad that I started Cowen off with the kindergarten book. It moves through the letters more slowly than the first grade book with more practice for each letter. That is good for my son. Although his handwriting is just as good as Miriam's--I want him trained thoroughly and properly from the get-go. None of this repent and retrain that I'm doing with my oldest.

3) Pre-School Book: Essentially a waste of money for people wanting to use it as a handwriting/get ready for school book. Then again, that is what I think about 99.9% of preschool products, so it might just be me. However, I am grateful I bought it because 4 year olds want to do what the big kids are doing and it keeps Emeline happy and busy. Well, happy as long as I don't tell her what she's supposed to be doing and just let her decide.

4) Extra specially lined paper. Good investment for me. I don't know that it would be worthwhile for other people, but Miriam has really entrenched bad habits. Since starting the program we've used the special paper for ALL of Miriam's writing (spelling words, for example) and that has really helped solidify the new concepts for her and given her extra practice.

5) Draw and Write Notebook. We haven't used these yet because I am saving them as a "reward." My children practically salivate every time they see the books, but first they have to do all the pages in their practice books. The concept is common--blank space at the top for an illustration, lines at the bottom for the writing. So far they've worked great as a motivator!

6) The box of pencils. When I first saw the pencils I was a little disgusted with myself for having purchased them. I was thinking they were the extra thick pencils. They are not. They are exactly the same diameter as any other normal pencil. They are just really, really short. However, I no longer regret the purchase. It didn't cost much for a huge box of them and the "wow" factor for my kids made it worth it. Part of the fun of doing handwriting is getting to pick a pencil out of the box. So, yeah, sort of lame, but also sort of fun.

Overall--I highly, highly, highly recommend this program. I spent $40 for all the above (a really huge expense in my homeschooling budget) but I don't regret a penny. Yes, I definitely could have done it cheaper, but I'm glad I didn't. These are the first books I've bought that my children can write in (I usually have them write on a separate sheept of paper or put it in a page protector and have the kids use white board markers), and I definitely think that is the way to go. However, if you are strapped, you could buy the extra paper and the practice books, and just have your child practice on the extra paper.

If you can though, and you are in the market for an excellent handwriting system, I'd get a practice book for each child and let them write in it. I absolutely love this system.


  1. we use this, too. but a classroom version and teacher gave to us. lots of manipulative/gadgety sort of stuff. i kind of like the idea of this better. just so you know, homeschooling is expensive...i have a HUGE wishlist at amazon and i go and gaze at it often. so sad. but, creativity abounds in the midst of adversity (or rather, poverty)...most of the stuff we could all come up with ourselves - except for the math story books - those are brilliant. oh, by the way, dinosaurs on a train (i think that's the name) is a pbs show and the episodes are like 12 min. long...anyhoo, luke's been tearing through them on his screen time and has spent the week throwing out very accurate scientific facts at random. so, the show is cute and sweet and annoying - but there are always a few specific points where things are explained very succinctly...check it out if you can find it. it's on netflix instant play.

  2. Coen loves Dinosaur Train. Just the other day he gave me a list of the dinosaurs that have two brains. And he told me at dinner when he grows up he is going to be a palinentologist (so spelt wrong). And since this come out of the blue he had to repeat himself several times before I understood what he was telling me. He also likes Dino Dan- but this one makes me gag a little- but very into teaching dino crap as well as how to figure things out.