Monday, August 30, 2010

TOS Review: Peterson Handwriting

Peterson Directed Handwriting

When I was asked about reviewing a handwriting program this year, I had a hard time deciding whether I would prefer to try it with Lauren (my preschooler) or Brennan (my fourth grader). Lauren can recognize most letters, and she is just now learning to print her name. Brennan worked on cursive last year, but he still needs quite a bit of practice. On a whim, I chose to review the print materials for Lauren.

Peterson Directed Handwriting isn't just another handwriting workbook. It's not just another style of forming letters, either. Peterson Handwriting changed the way that I look at teaching handwriting skills to my children. Instead of focusing on the way letters look, it focuses on the motions of forming letters and improving writing fluency.

A few months ago, I had a long discussion with Lauren's occupational therapist about visual processing skills. Lauren struggles with drawing, tracing, and working puzzles  -- tasks that require a lot of visual discrimination. Because Peterson Handwriting focuses on motor skills and not visual skills, I think it will be more effective for her than the traditional handwriting workbooks I've used with my older two children.

You can see Peterson's  Four Step Method of Instruction on their website. After introducing the letter, the child practices air writing, then finger tracing, and finally writes letters on paper. Throughout this process, the child chants the movements at the same time as they make the shape of the letter. Chanting the movement helps the child focus on the movement and not just the visual appearance.

So far, Lauren and I have worked of the letters "L" and "a." Lauren caught on to the movement chants for the "L" fairly quickly, and she loved having a page of schoolwork to do.

The Print 1 book shows each letter in alphabetical order. My initial plan was to work through the letters of Lauren's name. When we started on the lowercase "a," she struggled. She gets the idea of making the hook around movement, but she doesn't necessarily form it in the correct direction and it often ends up being a circle and a stick. She absolutely loves doing the practice pages, though, and insisted that I print off the "u" page for her to work on next. I thankful that I will be able to reprint these pages when she's developed her fine motor skills a bit more.

I definitely think that the Peterson methods of working on gross motor skills will over time help her learn to use the correct movements to form letters. With the correct movements, her handwriting will be more legible, and it will be easier for her to write at an appropriate speed.

Meanwhile, Brennan started back into his old handwriting practice. I noticed that he still struggles with cursive writing after practicing for nearly a year. Just this week I've been looking at the cursive materials available through Peterson, and I used the sample pages to introduce a few letters. I think these cursive materials might be a good way to get him to be fluent enough in cursive writing to use it on an everyday basis. So far, he's learned a few of the strokes and it seems to make more sense to him than the other materials we've tried.

Brennan trying out Peterson's cursive style

I will admit that I was initially turned off from the Peterson Directed Handwriting program for Brennan because it needs one-on-one instruction. When my days are stretched thin because of other subjects that need my direct supervision, I'm tempted to pick a more independent handwriting curriculum. On the other hand, our Peterson cursive lessons only last five minutes or so, and I think that these few minutes each day will yield a better result than just handing Brennan more handwriting workbooks that require lots of tracing and copying.

I would highly recommend taking some time to look at the Peterson website. In addition to full samples of all of their e-workbooks, there is a ton of useful information about handwriting instruction, pencil and paper position, techniques for teaching left handed students, and much more.

Each of the print or cursive e-workbooks costs $19.95. You can find samples of them on this page, and you can order them directly from this page. Once you purchase an e-workbook, you can print as many copies of the practice pages as you wish for your personal use.

If you'd like more information about this product, be sure to check out what my fellow crew members have to say on The Oldschoolhouse Homeschool Crew review page.

Disclaimer: I received three print e-book materials for free as a member of the 2010 TOS Homeschool Review Crew, and I received no other compensation. In return, I agreed to give an honest review of the materials and how they worked for my homeschool family.

1 comment:

  1. I love Peterson Handwriting! I've encouraged people to use it for years! I believe that they know what they are doing - it works!



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