Sunday, December 28, 2008

Peterson Directed Handwriting Review

Peterson Directed Handwriting is a program that teaches fluent print and cursive handwriting skills. It is based on a lot of research which is available on the site. You will find lots of other information there as well! The theory behind this program is that fluent writing cannot come from tracing but from teaching the muscles the correct rhythm/movements and making it automatic. This strategy is different than other writing programs because it deals with movement instead of showing children the letters and letting then trace them on paper.

There are several things about this program that I liked. On there site, and on the CD that comes with the program, there are animated letter cards. You can actually watch how the letters should be formed and have your child follow along with his finger to learn the actual movements involved in making them. Your child will practice large movements with "air writing" long before he sits down to practice with paper and pencil. This is to make sure this muscle movement has become automatic. He will also be taught the four muscle patterns that make up every letter. This simplifies what he has to remember when writing each letter. If he can remember and recognize these four patterns, and train his muscles to move in this manner, that's all there really is to the Peterson Directed Handwriting program. I really liked the paper guide stickers also. If you have a specific place your child writes, you can put this sticker on the desktop and your child places his paper along the edge and it will always be in the correct position. If you don't have a desk, you could put the sticker on a placement and just put that down when he is writing. That is what we had to do.

Now with that being said, there were some things about the program I didn't like. The manual that comes with the kit is not as teacher friendly as I think it could be. Even though they say it's simple to use, it was still confusing to me at times as to how to introduce things and what my child should be doing. There is a also lot of teacher time involved in this program. My son did not enjoy this program at all. I think however that part of the problem was his dyslexia. As the child writes a letter, whether air or paper writing, he has to say each of the strokes he is writing at the same time. My son used more energy trying to remember the different names of the strokes than the actual writing at times. He was fine at first when it was just one, but when we started introducing more of them, it became too confusing for him and it just frustrated him. This may not be the case with most children. My recommendation is to go to the website and really look over what is there. Read the research behind the method and actually try out the animated cards with your child and see how it works.

I do think this program could work very well with children who are just starting to learn to write. They have not formed bad habits. They could start from scratch training their muscles to fluently make the letters and I could see how it would really teach handwriting in an effective way.

This program is available from Preschool through 8th grade. I reviewed the 3rd grade kit. It is available in two different homeschool kits.

Complete Kit- $38.55
Teacher's Manual
Student Text
Position Guide Stickers
Triangular Pencil
Animated Letter Cards CD
Handwriting Songs CD
Supplemental Teacher Information

Basic Kit- $15.05
Contains everything from above except the two CD's

Rand Nelson is the contact person for Peterson's and he is extremely helpful and very dedicated to helping children learn fluent handwriting. If you have any questions at all, you can email him or even have a online training session or chat with him.

Contact information:
Peterson Directed Handwriting

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