MODEST MAMA

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Monday, August 30, 2010

Product Review: Peterson Directed Handwriting


In this review I will be discussing Peterson's Directed Handwriting. I was fortunate enough to receive a free copy of their cursive program to try out with the boys. I received the program free of charge for my honest review on this blog. I received no other compensation.

Isaac has been begging for a year to do cursive, but his print is so horrid that I wouldn't let him try it. But after taking an on-line teacher support class from Peterson Directed Handwriting, I decided that we would just jump into the program and see how it went. I even brought Henry along for the journey and he has been writing for only a few months.

Talk about an great company! The customer support system is truly amazing. Apprehensive about starting a handwriting program? Just not sure if this is the program for you? The folks over at Peterson Directed Handwriting are ready to address all you concerns and questions. They even offer on-line teacher support training starting at only $35.00. For more information on their on-line teaching training courses, CLICK HERE.

Peterson Directed Handwriting has a full array of programs featuring both print and cursive. They allow you to purchase just a single book, or an entire program. Prices are very resonable and range from around $15.00 up to about $40.00 per item. They offer E-Workbooks which allow you to print practice pages using Acrobat Reader. Another advantage is that their software package is compatible with a pen tablet on your PC. To check out their website for all their wonderful products, CLICK HERE.

And for all you Latrobe friends reading the blog, Peterson's Directed Handwriting is based out of Greensburg, PA. What a great way to support a local business!

A BRIEF OVERVIEW OF THE PROGRAM:

Peterson Directed Handwriting has been around for over 100 years. In that time they have developed a cursive writing program that naturally progresses through four basic movements to help students learn the cursive written language. They have paired these movements with other sensory activities to further help students master the writing process.

The program focuses on the importance of movement. Cursive writing is achieved by moving the pencil sideways. This is not done just with the hand, it also involves the wrist, arm and fingers. All must be in coordination to achieve the correct fluidity of movement. Feel confused and intiminated? Peterson easily walks you through the teaching process until you feel comfortable and confident.

The program follows a natural progression of skills. This means that the student works on a specific skill until it is completely mastered. The most basic skills are taught first, and each lesson builds in complexity. I found this approach extremely helpful in teaching children working at different levels. They moved at their own pace, and there was never pressure to move ahead before a skill was mastered.

Although there is no day-to-day lessson plans, the work texts clearly lay out the steps for the progression of skills. They also offer tips and recommendations if you find your student is simply "not getting it."

WHY THIS PROGRAM WORKED FOR OUR FAMILY:

*The three boys (grades kindergarten to fourth) could all be doing the program at the same time and it didn't overwhelm me in the least. I would present the lesson, pass out the sheets, make sure each child was using proper positions, and VIOLA! The sheets would become completed among a soundtrack of little letter movements.

*The animated letter cards were fun and engaging.

*The movement and voice combination also offered an entertaining twist into handwriting time. We would mix it up by using silly voices, whisper voices, etc.

*The program had a natural progression which allowed my children to easily master skills necessary to more forward in the program. This also allowed the children to move at their own pace within the program, and didn't cause any added pressure on me as the instructor.

*It seems very hard to "fall behind" while using this program. Since my children worked at their own pace within the levels, it was never a problem that one child was still working on the first basic shape and another child had mastered all four. There was no resentment because the program does not have a competitive element. The natural progression lends itself to practice, not completion.

WAYS THE PROGRAM DIDN'T WORK FOR US:

*Despite all the ways in which I tried to make the lessons fun, when it came down to it, the handwriting sheets were exactly that. Handwriting sheets. Repetitive and dry to my three boys. The kids didn't want to complete them. Even writing as many letters as they were old became too much after a few days.

* The program didn't have a day-by-day or step-by-step lesson plan. My success as a homeschooling mother relies heavily on knowing what I need to do and what the child needs to do for each day. I do not have the energy or motivation to create my own lesson plans for a curriculum. I prefer them already thought out, written down, and scripted if possible. I use that and make the necessary changes to fit our family. More often than not, when I have to create the daily plan, we stop the program within a few months because real life takes control of the homeschool day. I know that the essesence of this type of program would be lost with a day-by-day plan, I mean, how can you have a daily lesson when you are allowing a student to progress at their own pace? I am just stating that for my family, a program without a day-by-day plan generally does not work for us.

My final thoughts on the program:

This program would work best for a family who has a struggling writer and/or a family who wants/needs a systematic approach to handwriting skills. Although this program didn't work well for my family at this time, I wouldn't hesitate to mention it to any friends who may be in the market for a handwriting program.

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