Monday, August 30, 2010

Peterson Directed Handwriting

As the new year was about to begin I was panicked that I did not yet know what Handwriting curriculum I would be using for Zachary. Zachary was starting Kindergarten, and though he can write all his letters he still needs lots of help in the handwriting area. I was so excited to learn that I was going to be given the opportunity to review the Peterson Directed Handwriting.

We were introduced to the program through a web meeting with the folks at Peterson, and I was so impressed with their knowledge of the processes that go into learning how to write. I was asked to review the print version and was excited to get started with Zach and Molly. I received an ebook of practice pages for every letter (upper and lowercase) and numbers 0-9. The cost of each book is very reasonable at only $19.95 for an individual license. You can actually view the entire workbook here before you purchase it for printing. There are so many other wonderful tools that Peterson offers and you can find them at their webstore

A brief excerpt from their website shows us the Peterson Mission Statement:
Our mission is to spread awareness that fluency should be an important goal of your handwriting instruction, that there are easy ways to measure and track it, and there is a simple technique for instruction that will improve it.

I purchased small white boards for my two little ones and printed out the first ebook to teach the formation of the letters. The formation of letters is taught using words such as "tall down, slide, slide" to form a capital I, "small down, dot" to form a lowercase i, and so it goes for all the letters of the alphabet, and the numbers. The Peterson method tells you to air-write the letters as you say the words that go with forming each letter, and then move to writing them as large as needed and then move to placing them on the lines of a page. As a special ed teacher in my former life I could easily see how this method can help all kinds of learners to learn the formation of letters! It helps with muscle memory which is so important in learning to write letters. Zach's biggest problem in handwriting was the process of forming each letter. I can't even describe how he would write each letter, it was really bizarre and each letter came together at the end, but it was a puzzle and a task for him to write each letter. I felt this program had great potential to help him with the process of writing!

I love the idea of teaching using the Peterson method, and the customer support from the company is unlike anything I have ever seen. If you need help you can ask for a web-meeting and they will help you with whatever you need help with. Molly is a lefty and they had special instructions on teaching a lefty, which I really appreciate. However, Zach did not take well to this program. He does not want to say anything out loud and he found the air - writing almost painful. I make him do it, but many days he ends up in tears. I think because I let him write the letters however he wanted in the past he doesn't understand why I am changing it now. On the other hand, Molly LOVES this program. She wants to learn a new letter daily (we are doing one/week with her) She wants to do the air -writing with every part of her body possible, and then she happily says all the words to go along with what she is writing. She could write her name before we started but now she is working on several other letters and truly enjoying it. Here is a picture of her reviewing her vowels. As you can see we are not yet having her write her letters on lines, she is simply writing them as large as she needs to and getting them in to muscle memory.
I honestly think that the best way to use this program is from the beginning of handwriting instruction. Changing instructional methods is a bit tough on a kid, especially when they struggle with handwriting in the first place. I do really wish I had started this with Zach a year ago when we were really starting on writing. Molly will continue to work through one letter/week and I am sure she will continue to do well. The website has ebooks for all age levels and writing abilities. The product we reviewed was the very first level and is geared for preschool to first grade students. You can learn all about the Peterson program here. Be sure to check out the rest of their handwriting products here. And don't forget to check out other reviews of the product at the Homeschool Crew's Blog

Disclaimer: I received this item for free in exchange for my honest opinion of the product. There was no other compensation given for the review

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