Monday, August 30, 2010

TOS Homeschool Crew Review--Peterson-Directed Handwriting

Amélie has been begging me to learn cursive since we pulled her out of public school last January.  When she learned how to write her name in cursive she was so incredibly proud of herself that she showed everyone--and I mean everyone!--how she could write her name.  We pulled back from her previous handwriting program to give Peterson Directed Handwriting a try, and we both certainly learned some valuable knowledge about cursive writing along the way.

Peterson Directed Handwriting is a unique handwriting program whose motto is "The difference is rhythm!"  Instead of sitting right down with a pencil and paper, this program focuses on the entire process of writing and utilizes finger-tracing rather than pencil-tracing in order to imprint the letters in the student's muscle memory.  There are four steps in this process:
  1. Demonstrate First--Illustrate and Describe
    This foundational step helps the student learn how to make the strokes.  To make this step even more helpful, Peterson offers animated letter cards.
  2. Make the Voice-to-Movement Connection--Air Writing
    By connecting a word or phrase with the correct letter movement, the child is better able to remember how to make the letter.  The animated letter cards are also useful in this step.
  3. Help the Child Do the Finger-Tracing
    This is a critical step which helps the child connect his brain skills with his motor skills.  I was a little leery of the idea of completely abandoning pencil-tracing and only doing finger-tracing, but this presentation helped me better understand the science behind the concept.
  4. Write and Say
    After steps 1-3 are mastered, the student is finally ready to put lead to paper as she vocalizes the strokes and forms the letters. 
There are definitely several things I like about this program.  Even though the website is a bit confusing, the customer service is exceptional, and any questions a customer may have are answered thoroughly and courteously.  I also really like it that customers can view the product before deciding to purchase it.  You can go here to check out the different handwriting levels and decide which one would be the right fit for you.  Then, if you decide you want to use the program you can go here to buy!  Each workbook is reasonably priced at $19.95.

I also really like the way that the program is research-based.  Many handwriting programs provide colorful worksheets and "look" like they will be useful in teaching children how to write, but Peterson explains the science behind their method and offers plenty of convincing evidence to back it up.  You can go here to check out some of that evidence.  I know I was impressed!

Although the perks to this program are many, I had several concerns when using this product.  As a busy homeschooling mom, I want to be able to open a book, clearly see what the lesson is going to be for the day/week, and then jump right in.  It took me a long time of flipping pages back and forth and a good deal of trial and error and confusion before I started to figure out how we were going to pursue this handwriting method. 

I also have a hard time with the concept of e-books for textbooks. I printed everything off, and then I had to 3-hole-punch the pages and put them in notebooks. I prefer to have all of that done for me ahead of time. ;) However, one advantage to the product being downloadable is that you can buy it and then instantly begin using the program. You can also print off additional sheets for extra practice, and since the book is non-consumable, you can easily use this product with additional children, thus saving you a considerable sum of money.

I think the main difficulty we had with this program, though, is that Amélie had already begun learning her letters with a different handwriting curriculum, and taking a break from her usual program to try to teach her both a new way to learn her letters and a different cursive style was frustrating for her.  I think that Peterson Handwriting would work best for those families who are just starting to teach their students print and/or cursive. 

While the Peterson Handwriting Program may not be the best fit for us, I was impressed with the product and would definitely recommend that other homeschooling parents consider this company for their handwriting curriculum.

Some of my fellow Crew members have also used this program.  If you want to see their reviews and see how the program worked for them, you can do so here.

Disclaimer: As a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew I was provided a free copy of this product for my honest evaluation. I was given no other compensation for this review.

1 comment:

  1. Good review. I'm a follower now!