Which way is write?
As an Occupational Therapist for over twenty years, I have encountered numerous handwriting programs for children. In fact, sometimes it is downright overwhelming to determine which one is the best for a student!
First, I do believe that it is incredibly beneficial to use a systematic approach when teaching handwriting. Not only is this helpful, but it provides the obvious structure necessary to understanding that learning handwriting is a process that takes time. With that said, sometimes the selected program needs to be adapted. Just like anything else, we must consider the whole child or the entire classroom when we are making decisions about learning techniques.
In this article, together we will further explore several reputable handwriting programs that teach using a systematic approach. Each of them was created by an OT and all are described as being multi-sensory. However, they are quite different from one another. Hopefully, this article will help you discover the “write” way for your students.
*Note that each program is listed with a link that will provide more detailed information, products, trainings, and research.
- Handwriting Without Tears (HWT), now known as Learning Without Tears (LWT): https://www.lwtears.com This program is widely known and very comprehensive with the focus of making handwriting enjoyable and easy to learn, without all the tears! The program has evolved over the years and is termed as one that helps develop writing through explicit multisensory, play based instruction. It is the only of its kind that offers specific wooden pieces for letter construction, improving upon the student’s concept of part to whole in relation to forming capital letters. The program teaches pre-writing through cursive with a developmental approach that begins with learning capital letters first. In addition, it offers unique instruction for drawing a person, known as mat man. The consistent language and visuals used in the program assist the students with transitioning from hands on construction to paper and each stage in between.
- Size Matters Handwriting Program (SMHP): https://realotsolutions.com/shop/size-matters-handwriting-program Promoting size over formation, this program teaches three distinct lowercase letter sizes along with concrete letter placement. The program claims that formation will follow once the student learns the correct letter size. This program also teaches correct sizing when spacing within words and between words, a common problem with most writers. SMHP has only one grade level of workbook with only single letters on each page. Ideal for kindergarten or below, it can also be used in for first grade, and any year for students with intellectual disabilities. This program differs greatly to the LWT approach to writing.
- TV Teacher: http://tvteachervideos.com This exclusive program teaches handwriting using video modeling demonstrations paired with rhythmic chants for each stroke or letter. Alphabet Beats are fun, educational videos that teach children between the ages of 2 1/2 to 8 years how to write the alphabet quickly and easily! The videos are available in DVD or streaming format. In each 5 minute letter chapter, the writing motions are demonstrated while saying the chant. Next, the letter is written on a chalkboard, and finally on paper.
- First Strokes: http://www.thehandwritingclinic.com Another noteworthy multi-sensory program, First Strokes, incorporates detailed fine motor elements along with handwriting teaching. This program strongly supports addressing utensil grasp as part of handwriting development. It offers materials for early writers in preschool through learning cursive skills. Focus is placed on stroke sequence, legibility, and touch point accuracy.
- Handwriting Heroes: https://appytherapy.com/handwriting-heroes Handwriting Heroes is a relatively new fully downloadable program, containing videos and printables to teach letter forms by groups that are based on the first stroke of the letter. This program emphasizes the importance of teaching lowercase letters first since they are 98% of what students read and is claimed to be even easier to learn. The program offers a competitive price range since it is all downloadable. This exciting new face to writing promises systematic instruction and guided practice, in multiple formats, to enable students to learn the letter forms very efficiently.
Well, there you have it! Five handwriting programs with five different approaches to support your students. Try them all to determine which one you like best…. or maybe you will agree with me- the right way is whatever paves the way to write!
Author: Natalie Grooms, OTR/L