“ My son, keep my words and store up my commands within you. Write them on the tablet of your heart.” Proverbs 7:1-3 (paraphrase)
I was so excited to be able to review the Peterson Directed Handwriting Program for my children! We are slowly finding our groove with other subjects, finding what works and what doesn’t, but handwriting has had me stumped. Especially after watching my older two deal with reversals, poor pencil grip, and cramping hands, I knew I needed to find something different, not only to help them but also so I could avoid those problems with my Kindergartner! After having done some research I had decided I wanted to start my K’er with Cursive and was pleased to see that Rand at Peterson Directed Handwriting offered a cursive first option. I was given PDF by Hand E-Workbooks for Cursive Steps 1-4 for review. Each level concentrates on building fluency through movement and verbal cues slowly changing line spacing to an adult level. The key to this progression isn’t only knowing how to form the letters, but to build fluent movement to help children perform the physical act of writing so automatically that it doesn’t interfere with the creative writing aspect. For many children, the process of writing can be frustrating, not because they don’t know what to say, but because the process of writing is so slow and awkward.
This method of handwriting is very different from most common handwriting programs because it relies heavily on building fluency using rhythmic movement and verbal cues as well as the Color/Rhythm models of the letters. The Color/Rhythm models show how a letter is formed by each stroke having a different color. Most letters can be formed after learning the four basic strokes. In all honestly, at first the process was a bit overwhelming to me, but after spending a bit of time with the materials and emailing Rand with my questions, I was ready to go. He helped me figure out where to start each of my children, what the period of instruction should look like and suggestions for how to progress through the materials. I was very pleased with the support that Rand offers and consider it a valuable bonus to the E-Workbooks. I was also able to attend a special presentation at the Peterson Meeting Room where he shared more of the nuts and bolts of the program. This meeting room is usually open to visitors during the week where Rand will be able to answer any further questions and troubleshoot problems.
I used the Cursive Writing Steps 1 – ABC’s and 123’s Cursive with my Kindergarten son. I was very pleased to find that I was able to blend it seamlessly with our phonics program. I have especially appreciated the focus on gross motor movements to help learn the letter formation and the verbal cues. My son and I have spent a lot of time air-writing our letters and then finger-tracing with the Learning Pages before using the whiteboard for practice. This process has been very fun for him! He is your typical wiggly boy and anything that we can do that includes movement is a very good thing. We haven’t spent as much time using the practice sheets because he needs more time to develop those gross motor patterns for fluent handwriting. I think this would be a beneficial handwriting program for any student, but can really see the benefits for the wiggly boys!!
I have begun instruction for my older two children as well using the same air writing and finger tracing to build good gross motor patterns. We do use the practice sheets with pencil to “Write and Say” their letters. I have also spent a lot more time focusing on proper positioning and pencil grip with them. I had no idea how important this was until using the Peterson Directed Handwriting method. My daughter has moved from a death grip and cramped hands to much more fluid movement and better grip. I did purchase the Cursive Positioning Guides to help my children remember proper paper position as well as a visual reminder of the Color/Rhythm Alphabet. They are not crucial to using the program but are very inexpensive and very helpful, so I do recommend them. I also have my children use the basic Stetro Gripper to help with proper pencil grip.
I have 5 children and really appreciate the value in purchasing E-Workbooks to use for handwriting instruction. I can print as many practice pages as are needed for each of my children, each year we study handwriting. Each level is $19.95 and offers Teacher’s Instructions, Fluency Tests and Practice Pages as well as the excellent customer support from Rand! For those that would prefer daily lesson outlines and physical books, Homeschool Kits are also offered on the website. Peterson Directed Handwriting makes for a very thorough and economical choice for handwriting instruction.
You can find more reviews of Peterson Directed Handwriting at the TOS Homeschool Review Crew!!
**Any products reviewed by me as a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew have been given to me free of charge in order for me to provide you with an honest review of the product and/or how we used the product within our family. I do not receive any other form of compensation for the reviews posted on this blog.