Handwriting Without Tears
Handwriting Without Tears (HWT) is an amazing curriculum to help children of all ages learn to write properly. From kindergarten to grade 4 there are plenty of useful tips and techniques for parents, teachers and therapists to use in order to help children reach the best of their handwriting potential.
Learning to write is an extremely stressful process for children – and often we can forget that, because it’s so easy once you know how to do it. I remember when I was learning, the only reason I tried was because I wanted to be able to write in pen in school, instead of the blunt pencil I was stuck with day after day. HWT has incorporated a number of strategies that takes into account developmental stages, and multi sensory approaches (as well as fun) in order to teach children to write with no tears!
Multi sensory teaching is a big part of HWT, as the change in dynamic is good to keep the child engaged and focused, as well as appealing to all of the senses when learning to write. This includes the use of music, imaginary writing, letter stories, mystery letters and door tracing. It almost makes me want to go back in time to learn handwriting from scratch!
HWT provides workbooks and guides for teachers, parents and therapists to use when teaching handwriting. And these are all carefully planned. The language used is very child friendly, and takes away any assumptions that children know left/right or any clockwise/anti-clockwise orientation. It uses fun language (for example, “frog jump up”) that is easy for a child to remember, and to use when writing on their own. Every thing is kept simple, and easy. Which is what we want really. They have also made their workbooks left-hand friendly, so there is no need to panic there.
Each letter is put into a category, to make it easier for them to be taught. You start with capital letters, and go through each category. So there are ‘frog jump up’ letters, like F, E and D that require you to jump up from the bottom of the line to the top. Next there are ‘starting corner’ letters like H and K that all begin in the top left corner, and don’t return there (unlike the ‘frog jump up’ letters). Finally there are ‘centre starting’ letters, like C and O. These categories make it much simpler for children to follow the process of forming letters. And lower case letters will build on this knowledge, until finally children can write in joined up handwriting.
There are many other tools that can be used for younger children that make learning to write fun. Chalk boards are always a good way of helping children to form letters initially. However, to make it even more interesting, HWT sell an awesome set of play dough and boards that you can use to form letters with. I certainly recommend them, as they are truly entertaining for the child, as well as a great visual aid for learning how to form letters. It also give us a bit of fun too while teaching.
If you are a therapist, or a parent interested in Handwriting Without Tears, visit their website here. You’ll find plenty of materials that can be used, such as the workbooks and chalkboards, and even information on workshops to increase your knowledge of the program.
If you are in Hong Kong, however, SPOT clinic are running a HWT course this September. For more details and to register for the course then visit their website.
Written by: Philippa Berry
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