Sunday, May 30, 2010

Review: Peterson Directed Handwriting

My final TOS Homeschool Crew review!  This one is for Peterson Directed Handwriting.

Once I was picked to be part of this review, I had the chance to meet online with Rand Nelson to discuss the philosophy of the program and what might be the best fit for my children.  As a result of that meeting, I ended up receiving a few ebook products:

  1. Kindergarten Print (for my 4 and 6 year olds)
  2. Grade 1 Print (to give the 6 year old some additional practice words/sentences)
  3. Printing Fluently (for my 3rd grader)
  4. Step 4 Cursive (for my 5th and 7th graders)
Unfortunately, when I received these, we were already using two other programs for the Crew that involved handwriting, so I tried to finish up those reviews before diving in to this one.  Which means I didn't get as much actual experience with Peterson as I would have liked.

The basic philosophy is a movement-based strategy, and we have loved what we have done so far.  The basic steps:
  1. Illustrate and Describe: you show a model (I use the whiteboard) and model the stroke sequence with the 'action words'
  2. Air Writing: the student points at the large model and writes in the air as they chant the action words.  The suggestion is to do this in different ways.  My kids just love air writing with their elbows!
  3. Finger Tracing: Using the pointer finger, the student chants and traces on paper.  
  4. Write and Say: this is the first point that a pencil is used -- starting on unlined paper, the student chants and writes the letter until they are able to make fairly consistent letters.  At that point, he can move to lined paper.
The chant for a letter like "b" (in print) is:  "Tall down, Roll around."  Just so you have an idea as to what I'm talking about when I talk about action words or chants!

As I expected, Trina is really still too young for this.  She is having fun saying the chant, doing the air writing (she LOVES that part), and finger tracing.  But she stresses out when we get to the Write and Say step.  So I'm just telling her that she doesn't have to do that part until she either a) wants to, or b) is in kindergarten.  When she thinks I'm not watching though, she'll get a dry erase pen and practice on the (unlined) white board, chant and all.  I think that is plenty for a 4 year old.

Richard is doing great with the kindergarten book, and so far, I haven't felt the need to pull out anything from the first grade level.  I figure we'll just work through the K workbook, and then move on to the first grade one.

Thomas.  Yeah, Thomas.  He's finishing up third grade, and the Printing Fluently book seems to be a step ahead of him.  In this book, they are working on printing at a slant instead of the straight up and down.  He is struggling with that.  I think he'll be okay once he sees it a bit more, and as he continues to work with it.  Right now, though, he's a bit frustrated.

William and Connor (finishing fifth and seventh grades) started with the Cursive book, as they both can print legibly, though more slowly than I'd like.  That was not a good fit.  They begged to do Printing Fluently with Thomas, so I do have the three of them in that level together.  They are not struggling with the slanted printing, though it is new to them.  I think it will make transitioning to cursive much easier.  

Overall, I feel great about Peterson Directed Handwriting.  It does take Mom Time as it is not something I can just hand them to do.  But just handing them a workbook was not leading to fluency in handwriting.  Peterson pushes fluency.  Another great part -- the ebooks are quite inexpensive (about $20 each), especially as you can use them for everyone. 

Their website is chock-full of information, and you can even view the pdf's of their e-books here.  At the very least, I highly recommend reading through the website and watching the various demonstrations.  Even if you don't decide to purchase their materials, I think it will give you a little something to think about with your handwriting students.

And you can check out what my fellow crewmates have to say about various Peterson Directed Handwriting products at:

Any questions? I'd love to know what you would want to know in deciding whether or not this is something you want to purchase.

Disclaimer:  As part of the TOS Homeschool Review Crew, I did receive free products from Peterson Directed Handwriting.  The fact that I received complimentary products does not guarantee a favorable review.  It does guarantee a review. A fair review. But I am not going to praise something unless I think it deserves the praise.  If I don't like it, you'll hear that.  And hopefully with enough detail as to why so you can decide for yourself if what I hate about it makes it perfect for your family.  For more about my take on reviews, visit my blog post here.

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