And sometimes with them too...
We started using this when my two oldest were 5. One of them was a lefty and no matter what I did he just couldn't figure out how to hold the pencil or form the letters. He would scream and cry and throw his pencil and paper across the room. It was good times.
My mom (bless her heart) suggested Handwriting Without Tears. We took the plunge and bought the Pre-K stuff. Miracle of miracles, he figured out how to write! It took some time but it really helped that there were so many ways to learn the letter - build it with wooden shapes, write it on the chalkboard, make it out of playdough, trace the card with your finger or use the magnetic writing tablet. Tracing the letter over and over with the wet sponge and then the dry paper towel helped to create muscle memory which was what he needed as his hand was fairly weak. (I should note that some of these items are *extras* and not necessary for the program. We use/d them and love them still.)
The child starts by learning the letters with straight lines and slowly moves to the curved letters. Everything is uppercase in the first book too, which is much easier for little hands to make.
Both boys have now completed the books through second grade. We stopped at cursive writing because I want their printing to be a little (read a lot) neater before we move on to cursive. I should point out that their poor handwriting is due to laziness, not the program. When I tell them to 'do it perfect' it's perfect. Our third son just completed the Pre-K book and is proudly moving on to first grade where he will learn lower case letters.
As the boys got older I felt it necessary to add additional copywork in each day. I felt like there wasn't enough practice. Also, the sentences they had to copy were a bit on the boring side so I gave them sentences that were interesting to them. Sentences like "My frog is green and red and can jump really high." instead of "The boy went up the hill." I also tried to get things in there like "My mom and dad think I am smart and funny."
I didn't feel that the teacher's manuals were necessary. It's a very intuitive program and the student books have small pictures of each step across the top so you can figure out what to do just by looking through their books.
I bought some of the short pencils thinking it would be easier for little hands and they helped a lot. In the beginning when they would try larger pencils the letters would be all over the place. We still have a bazillion of the pencils left, four years later, and they use them regularly. We never have the "I can't find a pencil" excuse.
Things I love about Handwriting Without Tears:
1. Easy to use
2. Produces results, as in great handwriting
3. There really are no more tears
4. Multi-sensory and very hands-on (excellent for my child with learning issues)
Things I don't love:
1. The cost of practice paper is crazy high
2. Needs a bit more practice built in
Overall, a product I truly love. I'm so glad I made the investment - thanks mom!