I’m excited to share my first official TOS Homeschool Crew review with you today…Peterson Directed Handwriting!
Handwriting has always been the biggest challenge in our homeschooling journey. We got off to a rocky start with my oldest, starting with cursive in K5. Our cursive endeavors ended in tears, and after a few weeks we switched to manuscript. That helped immensely, but handwriting continued to be a struggle, and I could not figure out how to fix it.
In July, I received Peterson Directed Handwriting’s We Write to Read Printing to review. At that point I was undecided about our handwriting curriculum for this year, so I was glad to have the opportunity to try something new. Honestly, I thought most handwriting curricula were probably pretty similar. I mean, how many ways can you teach handwriting? It was during the live online training session with Rand Nelson that I realized Peterson Directed Handwriting is completely different.
Most methods teach handwriting by tracing and memorizing an image. Peterson takes a unique approach. Rather than memorizing the image of each letter, Peterson develops muscle memory, using a four-step procedure:
Step One: Illustrate and Describe – Strokes are given specific names, called “Action Words,” which the student can say in rhythm. In this step, the strokes and Action Words are demonstrated by the teacher.
Step Two: Air Writing – In this step, the student writes the letter in the air while watching the teacher write the letter. Everyone says the Action Words in unison as each stroke is made.
Step Three: Finger-Tracing – The student then moves to their worksheet, where they trace the letters with their finger while saying the Action Words.
Step Four: Write and Say – At this point, the student picks up his/her pencil for the first time in the lesson and proceeds to write the letter while continuing to say the Action Words out loud while writing.
One of the most unique aspects of Peterson Directed Handwriting is that the student never traces the letters with their pencil. The reasoning behind this makes a lot of sense. When a child traces the image of a letter, they are memorizing the image, rather than the actual action of writing the letter.
Peterson Directed Handwriting offers great support and training. They offer online training classes, and Rand Nelson is also available to answer questions by email or phone. I did find their website rather difficult to navigate, so you may have to hunt for what you are looking for, but the material itself is excellent. Their website includes an overview of the method and a Resource Library that I found to be very helpful. If you are teaching a Left Handed writer, they have a great download for that as well in the Resource Library.
What did we think?
At first, my girls did not know what to think about this method. My six year old’s first response was, “It’s tricky,” because it was so different than what she used before. So if you have children who have learned their letters already, it may be a bit of a struggle at first. However, I truly believe it is worth it to stick to this curriculum.
Both of my girls loved saying the Action Words in rhythm together, and almost immediately I could see an improvement in their method of forming letters. Prior to using this curriculum, they both struggled with using the right strokes and directions in writing their letters. Using the Action Words definitely makes a difference! I am excited to continue using Peterson Directed Handwriting for school this year, and later on I will write a follow-up post to let you know how it goes after using it for a longer period of time.
What is available?
The PDF workbook I reviewed, Print Step 1 can be purchased for $19.95, and this allows you to print it as many times as you want for your own use. This is wonderful to use with multiple children. It’s also great if you need to go back to a particular letter or number for extra practice. You can print what you need, as you need it.
There are several different levels for both manuscript and cursive writing. You can preview all of their Ebooks by clicking here (this is a preview version that cannot be printed).
Peterson Directed Handwriting also provides many other handwriting resources, including a CD-ROM of Animated Letter Cards that look excellent. Visit their website to see more of what they have to offer!
For more reviews of this product, visit the TOS Homeschool Crew blog!
I received free downloads of this curriculum (Print Steps 1-3) for review. The opinions expressed are my own, and I received no other compensation for this review.