Deuteronomy 6:6-7

And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. ~ Deuteronomy 6:6-7

Monday, August 30, 2010

Peterson Directed Handwriting

This past month, I was given a copy of the Peterson Directed Handwriting print step 1, 2, and 3, in exchange for my honest review of it. Up until learning about and using this product with my family, I had no idea how much research could go into teaching handwriting- what I assumed was a simple task. This program is not like most of the others available on the market. It goes way beyond providing pages of copywork and pencils or crayons and having the little ones trace away the day. Oh no! I have to admit though, that at first, I was skeptical.Why would going through all of these extra steps produce better results than the handwriting curriculum I had previously used? Well, let me tell you...

Peterson Directed Handwriting includes 4 objectives:

1.) Internalizing the sequence of movements for handwriting

2.) Learning to write smoothly

3.) Improve control

4.) Improve fluency

As I mentioned before, I was skeptical at first, and reluctant to put down my tracing pencil and try this method. Then, I checked out their website explaining the science of handwriting, not to mention all of the research that went into the planning of this program. I would encourage everyone to take a look at it too, before you make up your mind.

Moving on now, the main goal here is to produce within your child's writing, smooth, rhythmic movement. You are to begin this process by first "illustrating and describing" as the instructions put it. Print step 1 - and the others too- include color coded pages to demonstrate where to begin, and in what order the writing strokes should be made. So, you begin at the starting dot, and as you make the movement with your finger, you also say out loud the movement. For example, if I was teaching how to write number 5, I would say, "small down, roll around, slide" as I followed the lines with my finger.

The next step is air-writing. I think that is pretty self explanatory. Then comes finger tracing, and only after all of that does the child move on to actually writing the letter itself. You probably understand by now that this resource is more time consuming than a lot of the others out there, and it is. However, if the goal is to provide a strong foundation for the many years of writing ahead, then you may find it is well worth the effort.

I was convinced enough after viewing all of their information on the why's and how's to jump right in with my own daughters. How did it go? Well, quite honestly, I've had mixed results. We all know that kids are not cookie cutters, and what works for one may not for the other, etc... I tried it first with my youngest, who has just started kindergarten. She has been the most receptive of the two, mostly, I think, because she has had really no other instruction. I'm not discounting how her personality factors in to the equation though, because she is more physical and chatty, and therefore took to the verbal part of it all, and the air-writing,fairly enthusiastically. In fact, she really enjoyed the chanting aspect of the instruction, and it did seem to help her internalize what she needed to do when she actually began writing the letters and numbers.

My eldest daughter, on the other hand, was a little more challenged by this new method. Having learned how to write in what is probably the most traditional form, she repeatedly told me that she already new how to write, so why did she need to learn everything again? Well, I did not give up, and she has warmed up to it a little bit. We've used various silly voices as we say the directions out loud together, as well as air-write not only with our fingers, but our feet, noses, elbows, you get it, right? Initially, she wasn't thrilled about the out loud chanting of the instructions either. She tends to be a bit self conscious, but as long as I say it with her, most of the time she's receptive. Really, I think it's good for her to relearn some of this anyway. I appreciate the attention to detail as far as things like the paper position and pencil grip. They're just good exercises in the discipline.

My family has only worked with the print step 1, 2, and 3, but there are other resources available from this company to use in conjunction wh the program. These include pencil grips, sticky backed paper positioning guides and animated letter cards. You can check the website for the various prices.

What really impressed me as I went about learning how to implement these, was the excellent customer service. I cannot say enough good things about Rand Nelson, who created the program, and his willingness to do everything in his power to make this product work for you. He and his team are very accomodating to whatever your particular needs may be. In fact, when you first get on their website, you'll see that there are live meetings available pretty much whenever you need them. They want you to use their product, but more importantly, they want you to succeed in your teaching.

I've been back and forth as we've used this product, but overall, I like it and would recommend it, although I would say that I think it might be best for those children who have had no prior instruction in handwriting. Then you may save yourself the trouble of forgetting old ways of instruction, and learning the new ones. At the very least, I would advise anyone who is looking for a program like this to stop and take a look at Peterson's material, their research, and sit in on a web meeting. It's well worth the time.

Peterson Directed Handwriting

Print Step 1, Print Step 2, Print Step 3 - $19.95 each

Phone: 724.837.4900

Fax: 724.836.4110

315 S. Maple Ave.

Greensburg, PA 15601

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