Handwriting ~ help choosing & DH ~ is teacher's manual needed

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  • Melissa Henson

    I am trying to decide on a few things. I have a 2nd grader who still reverses letters and numbers often. I’ve never really “taught” her (or my older daughter) HOW to write, they have just done copywork. I’m feeling the need to sort of “start over” with her. I was looking at Handwriting Without Tears (strictly because I’d heard about letter reversals being corrected with their program), but it seemed “twaddly”. So then I looked at the Delightful Handwriting on here and thought that maybe if we just did D’Nealian with that and started from the beginning, really LEARNING each letter, that she should be fine. Would you agree? Also, ~ do you NEED the teacher’s manual?

    As far as my other daughter, she is in “4th grade” (technically). We learned cursive last year just in the sense of doing one book from Queen’s (Pictures in Cursive PRIMER). I’m not sure she really remembers how to form each letter. She also never really “LEARNED” how to write print letters. She does fine, but I notice that she starts letters in strange places, lol. Anyway. I’m wondering if something like the Print to Cursive Proverbs would be good for her? Sort of another “do-over” or should she just practice cursive?

    I really never gave handwriting much thought as a “subject”. I’ve spent all of my CHOOSING energy over the years on things like history and math and such. Now, I feel like we need a good HANDWRITING program, but I don’t want twaddle and I want what is right for each one. Any advice from you fine ladies would be much appreciated.




    I think there are alot of things about HWT that are twaddly, but I never did those aspects of the program with dd6.  We just used the little slate and chalk idea to teach how each letter was formed.  The slate does make it very hard to mess the letters up.  My ds3 who can’t even hold a crayon well can make several letter correctly on the slate.  HWT really helps to focus on how to form each letter.

    I can’t really comment on the other options you mentioned since HWT is the only thing we used for dd6 and we haven’t gotten to cursive yet.


    I have used DH since the summer with my ds (just turned 6yo).  I purchased the teacher’s guide (fyi…includes both ZB and DN) and the electronic student  book.  I will be using DH for a second child so that made it easier for me.  The teacher’s guide was a must for me since I was wanted to make sure he learned the strokes correctly.  It is very gentle and my ds has loved it.  I don’t have any experience with with HWT.



    We use HWT. I just buy the workbooks and go through. It is essentially copywork, of letters and words initially but then later sentences too. But my 9yo still reverses letters and especially numbers in his own writing even though he can do the workbook beautifully if he chooses to. Sometimes those skills just don’t carry over well. At this point I am just trying to be patient and see if he will outgrow it.




    To finish our manuscript instruction and introduce cursive, we used and enjoyed A Reason for Handwriting, Transition book. It is a workbook, with removable pages. My dd used to reverse her letters all the time, but it seemed like something she would eventually outgrow; and she did. A Reason for Handwriting was a very gentle introduction to cursive, and I made it even more CM by not requiring the dc to repeat the letter/word as many times as the book called for. That made for a much shorter, more enjoyable copywork lesson. This year, since both kids were proficient in their cursive, we moved onto SCM’s Hymns in Prose Cursive. 

    Just another suggestion from someone who has not used HWT.




    I bought HWT a few years ago thinking my son was going to need the extra help.  Haven’t used it at all.  I tend to shy away from anything that has more busywork than we need.  My oldest dd started with A Reason for Handwriting, which was fine.  I now have her doing Pentime Cursive.  My ds8 is doing the Pentime Transition book.  Short, simple lessons with charts they can refer to if they need a reminder of where to start the letter or which direction to go.  Very inexpensive.  I am very happy with this program.


    We use HWT. Both of my little darlins have small motor issues and it was suggested by their occupational therapist. My daughter (4.75yo) is whizzing through it because she is highly motivated. My youngest son (3.99yo) is not really interested yet, but he has considerable weakness in his fingers so I expect some challenges when the time comes that he is interested and we start working on it with him. Meanwhile we use other exercises to increase his strength. HWT was originally developed for kids with motor difficutlies and other challenges for use with an occupational therapist, so IMO some of what seems like busywork for a child who catches on quickly is essential for a child with challenges and can possibly be helpful for a child who is somewhere in between.

    The exercises using the long and short straight lines and large and small curved lines help them undertand the shapes needed to make the letter and have success by just placing the right lines in the right places. For a child who is struggling with the mechanics of letter formation this is helpful! I didn’t purchase these materials, I just made them from poster board.

    The slate is GREAT! My daughter loves it and it really does make it hard for them to form the letters incorrectly, and she finds it very fun. One day she sat down and did the whole alphabet on the slate from start to finish all by herself just for fun.

    They have a CD “Get Set for School” with fun songs. In a classroom setting it might be helpful but it isn’t great for us at home. We have it and listen to it occassionally. The Mat Man song is fun, but more for younger kids (the age of my kids). It does help them move from the “blob head with legs sticking out” stage to drawing a more realistic figures by breaking down the shapes piece by piece and showing how they go together.

    The workbook is fine for practicing the letters, my girl really likes coloring the illustrations in it as well. I like how they don’t repeat each letter ad nauseum.

    It does sound like your kiddo could use some instruction on how to form the letters. A HWT workbook  and slate would probably help a lot if you decide to go that route. The TM would help you know how to form the letters (things we nver think about because it is automatic after years of writing) so you can teach her. I havent seen the 2nd grade book, but I would consider starting with the first book and moving on through them. You would probably go very fast through the early books and hopefully establish a better foundation by the time you get to the book transitioning to cursive.

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