Handwriting Without Tears
Frequently, parents ask the almost timeless question - "At what age can children begin handwriting?"
On the one hand, parents do not want to delay a child who might be ready for handwriting. At the same time, they do not want to introduce a difficult set of skills that can frustrate an otherwise excited and eager child.
At Good Shepherd Christian Academy, we believe that 4 and 5 year old children are ready to begin writing letters and numbers, but not by using the same techniques and methods traditionally used in kindergartens and elementary schools. Preschool children are still developing fine motor skills that they will continue to develop well into elementary school; therefore, their first steps in handwriting need to follow a logical, motor-skills level with an appropriate progression through using many manipulatives and large handwriting tools that make learning the most fun. The HWT emphasis upon printing upper and lower case letters meets the Massachusetts state standards for pre-K and kindergarten, so that most GSCA preschool students actually enter kindergarten ahead of the state standards.
The Handwriting Without Tears Program meets all of these needs, while allowing children to enjoy the beginning of their handwriting experiences in life. Please read the information and follow the links below to learn more about this program, including the research that proves the effectiveness of this program. Good Shepherd's preschool program is one of very few preschools in the South Shore area that use this program.
Long before children can correctly grip pencils for handwriting, they are able to recite the alphabet, recognize the letters and numbers, and form letters if they are given the proper hands on manipulatives appropriate for little hands.
The Handwriting Without Tears Program at GSCA uses many different types of manipulatives.
Each day children start their handwriting practice using one of the following aids for letter and number formation.
Handwriting Without Tears Manipulatives
The most unique, renowned materials used by the program are the wood pieces.
There are 26 wood pieces in each set: 8 big lines, 6 big curves, 6 little lines, 6 little curves. Children learn to form all of the letters by choosing the appropriate pieces and assembling them together.
Stamp and See Screen
Children use magnetic stamps to create the shaddow of letters on the screen. They then used the attached writing tool to trace the shape of the letters.
Children learn to roll "dough snakes" between their hands, if they have not already discovered this fun activity of their own! Then, they bend and shape the "snakes" to cover the shapes of the letters in the bottom of the tray.
Using the very traditional chalkboard materials of earlier generations and newer techniques, children learn to trace "wet" and "dry" letters using sponges, paper towels, and chalk. This unique "wet-dry-try" method yields great results and happy smiles. Click here to view a sample chalkboard lesson. The smiley face at the top left corner of the chalkboard also helps students remember their critical top-bottom and right-left directionality.
Magic C Bunny Puppet
Activities and songs used with this puppet help children learn the critical "c' stroke used in the capital letters C, O, G, Q and lower case letters a, d, g,o, and q.
Handwriting Without Tears Workbook
In addition to working with manipulatives, students work on pages in their Pre-K workbook each day. The workbook pages are designed for promoting the sequential development of skills. Children are able to reinforce their learning of shapes, pre-strokes, letters, and numbers. Since the workbooks require crayons for completing each page, student have fun with their first encounter with offical paper-based "school work!" Click here to view some of the sample pages from the Pre-K workbook called "Get Set for School."
Handwriting Without Tears Methods and Results
The Handwriting Without Tears program has produced widely-documented success with many different types of students in many different settings. Below you will find links to research studies and more information about the teaching methods, pedagogy, and basis for the program. We invite you to contact us at GSCA to arrange a tour of our preschool including opportunities to see the HWT program in action. You will also find pictures of some our students using the program.
Videos of Other Schools Using Handwriting Without Tears