Handwriting Without Tears® (HWT) is a fun, multisensory program that we incorporate into SSH Arlington Spanish immersion programs. It’s perfect for helping young students develop fluent, legible handwriting as an automatic, mastered skill. The system behind it was created over 30 years ago by an occupational therapist, and it has been used with millions of children worldwide.
Originally, the program was only available for English speakers, but recently, HWT noted the rising importance of bilingual education and developed a Spanish edition. Students and teachers love HWT, and we’ve been able to build on the Spanish program, taking it to the next level.
How does it work? ¿Cómo funciona?
Spanish Schoolhouse Arlington students touch, feel, and manipulate real objects that help them learn handwriting skills. They practice forming letters and words using wooden letter pieces, chalkboards, finger paint, sponges, shaving cream, masking tape, and more.
These hands-on activities draw on multiple senses to teach writing skills such as correct letter formation, spacing, and sequencing.
The program develops progressively from the 2-year-old through kindergarten levels. Students begin by learning the parts of the letters (big/little lines and curves). Then they progress to forming letters with manipulatives. Eventually, students start creating letters with pencil and paper.
Rhymes and wordplay help make letter formation easy for preschoolers and kindergarteners to remember. Here are some cute examples of how stories are used to create letters. In this case, swimming teaches children to write the letter p, and baseball teaches them the letter e!
For a lower case p, children imagine a swimmer who starts at the top and dives down, and swims back up and around to hit the line.
To form a lower case e, students imagine a baseball player. First they start, hit the ball, run the bases, and then stop. Our HWT materials are in Spanish, so the written instructions give them visual reinforcement of Spanish as well.
What are the benefits? ¿Cuáles son los beneficios?
- Handwriting Without Tears® is fun! It reduces frustration… and relaxed, happy students learn more and learn faster!
- HWT meets the TEKS standards for Pre-K and Kindergarten.
- Fine motor skills develop as we emphasize correct grip, and children learn a writing posture that will make writing comfortable and efficient for life (straight back, at least one foot on the floor).
- Language arts knowledge grows as students are exposed to prepositions (like above/below, under/over, around) and directional terms (such as up and down).
- Vital preschool knowledge develops with the HWT learning process! An example is the use of a resource called “Mat Man” (or sometimes “Mateo”), a floor person who students help construct with the straight and curved wood pieces that are used to form the letters. While singing the SSH Mat Man song, the children work together to build him, simultaneously learning body parts and functions, body awareness, math/number skills, social skills, singing etc. He is also incorporated into drawing skills, as students learn to draw a face and body with the appropriate parts. Ask your student to tell you about Mat Man!
Recent research shows that writing by hand increases creative writing skills as well as fine motor skills. Some studies have shown that elementary students write more and write faster by hand than when using a keyboard!
At Spanish Schoolhouse Arlington, we believe mastery of handwriting is an indispensable lifetime skill, and we value the amazing resources Handwriting Without Tears® provides! For more info, visit: https://www.hwtears.com/hwt