Monday, August 30, 2010

Stop Tracing & Gain Fluency- Peterson Directed Handwriting Review

Do you feel comfortable with how to teach your children handwriting?
Do you sit your children down and have them trace letters 
that are already printed in a book or on a worksheet?
Do they draw over the top of dotted letter forms in order to "learn their letters"?

Did you know that there is ANOTHER WAY?

has been teaching handwriting successfully 
 since 1908!!!
Located in Greensburg, PA.

As a member of The Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Review Crew,
I received a free copy of Peterson Directed Handwriting Print Step 1, Print Step 2 and Print Step 3 in e-book format and for review purposes.  I also had a meeting with Mr. Rand Nelson from Peterson Directed Handwriting for explanation purposes.

Each of these e-workbooks sell for $19.95.  They are available for download immediately and can be printed as you chose.  No more consumable workbooks that can only be used for one child.  No more running out of practice pages when your child struggles on a specific stroke or needs to review a certain letter.  No more messy sheet protector over the top of your worksheets so that you can re-use them inexpensively.

Peterson Directed Handwriting believes that
the use of symbols as a tool for learning is greatly enhanced when the user has integrated motor patterns for the symbols. Without instruction, a child must invent his or her own production process. If you can give 10 minutes of direction to your class each day, we can help your pupils maximize reading, handwriting and composition skills.
What does this mean?

It means our children need just a few minutes of direct instruction to teach them how to properly form their letters.  It means that the path for a child to become fluent (AND FLUENCY IS THE GOAL at Peterson Directed Handwriting) is to first describe the strokes, name the strokes and then practice the strokes in GROSS MOTOR WAYS.

Peterson Directed Handwriting believes that first the large muscles must gain muscle memory of the strokes.  Once there is large muscle memory the fine motor movements will flow naturally.

What's wrong with tracing?

According to Peterson Directed Handwriting, tracing letters on paper does not allow muscle memory to kick in.  Instead tracing promotes **drawing** the letters.  When children draw the letters they are focusing on the point of the pencil to see if it is following the correct path at that given minute.  If instead, children have muscle memory and internalize the stroke patterns they are then looking ahead and determining the next needed stroke.  This increases fluency and eases the task of writing.

Peterson Directed Handwriting uses a 4 step process that only requires approximately 10 minutes a day of direct instruction.  However, Mr.Rand Nelson stated on several occasions during our on-line training that "there is no right way to do this" and that it needs to be "catered to where the child is at."   Each step needs to be MASTERED before moving on in order to properly train the muscles correctly: a lesson may take more or less time depending upon where your child is at that day.

Here are the steps:

1) Illustrate and Describe the stroke to be practiced.
Peterson Directed Handwriting even has Animated Letter Cards to show you HOW to illustrate each letter.

2) Air Writing the strokes in the air with the full arm and extended index finger trains the large muscles.

3) Finger Tracing transitions the large muscle memory into fine motor skills by tracing the letters with the index finger.  How is this different than tracing letters?  It is different because this step is training the index finger muscles how to pull, push, and otherwise move.  The muscles are developing proper memory.  When a child traces letters using a pencil he is focused on the tip of the pencil, is drawing the letters instead of relying upon muscle memory to fluently write the letters. To test the mastery of this muscle training a child is encouraged to write letters without looking down at the paper.  "Writing blind"  A child who traces and draws their letters will not be able to do this.
If you would like to learn more about finger tracing check out this link to find out how pencil tracing blocks fluency.

4) Write and Say.  This is when the children first write the strokes and letters on paper. Prior to this step, the children have been building muscle memory. A child should not move on to this step until they have mastered and become fluent with steps 1-3.  Most handwriting programs skip the first 3 steps or only briefly visit them as if they are mere games and are not very important.

Peterson Directed Handwriting has the BEST Customer Service!

There is more information that you can possible FATHOM on Peterson Directed Handwriting website.  This is a huge strong point for this curriculum.  Not only do they provide everything you wanted to know and more but they have provided on-line viewing of every page of the items they have for sale! 

Their person to person customer service is beyond anything the current generation has ever seen.  There is a meeting/conference room on the website that is staffed most of the week for drop in questions and training.  Mr. Rand Nelson stated that anyone who purchases the materials is privy to a private informational/training session with him, one just needs to drop him an email to arrange for it to happen.  No question is left unturned with this curriculum when you utilize their customer service "Meet Live Now" or their emailing options.  They are in the business of TEACHING children how to write fluently and you can tell that it means more to them than the money they make from their products.   

Here is a quote from their website:
We are committed to helping those who recognize that handwriting skills are holding students back and are anxious to share the information with you. For that reason we maintain a meeting room through Adobe Connect that supports live cooperation via the internet. The Connect Meeting interface allows collaboration with voice over the internet, video, white boards for illustration, application sharing, keyboard chat and much more.
Customer service is beyond anything I have ever experienced or imagined and Mr. Rand Nelson is the most helpful business man I have ever encountered!

This curriculum IS designed for classroom usage and you can tell as much by looking at the website and the curriculum, however it is easily adapted and the offered training sessions can supply much help to adapt their products to your unique homeschooling situations.

Another thing to know about this product is that it requires a bit of initial research and training for the one who will be teaching the method.  I have provided the links that I found to be the most helpful here in this review to give you a head's start.  Once you watch some of the presentations and fully understand the philosophy, method and process for Peterson Directed Handwriting you will be able to use these e-workbooks with little nightly prep and minimal instruction time.  But please remember this initial training is essential, this is not a purchase and GO curriculum until you understand the method behind it.

Do you have a left-hander?

Peterson Directed Handwriting has resources for you.  Among the TOS crew several had questions about left handed children or special needs specifics.  Mr Rand Nelson was so kind to offer extra teaching sessions and one on one training sessions.  THIS is included in your purchase, one just needs to reach out and ask for help.  Before asking for help, a great place to look is this link for lefties.

Adapting Peterson Directed Handwriting to fit our current needs:

Our family had already started using another program with my oldest.  That program had very specific wording for the strokes.  During our training session Mr. Rand Nelson stated that "any words would work as long as you are consistent and the child understands what the wording means."  So we used the Peterson Directed Handwriting philosophy and method but used our own previously learned words.

I love the concept of muscle memory in regards to handwriting.  In my research on learning styles and how children learn these concepts make sense.   I will be changing up the way I teach pre-writing and beginning writing to my youngest two by adding much of the Peterson Directed Handwriting Methods.  I also love the emphasis on proper utensil holding and paper placement.  I already emphasized these with handwriting lessons but I hear that other programs do not teach how a person ought to turn their paper and hold their pencils.

This fall I plan to use the printable worksheets from the e-workbooks.  What a gem of a resource to have the pages I need and want when I need and want in the quantity I need and want them.  What a great aspect to this product.

Print e-workbook 3 transitions the child into slanted printing so as to improve fluency and speed while prepping the child for cursive.  This is a philosophy that some hold but I personally do not and so, although Print book 3 is a great review book, we will not be using this book personally in our schooling.  If you choose to continue on with Peterson Directed Handwriting into their cursive books Print Book 3 would make a great book of transition!

Peterson Directed Handwriting Print Step 1, Print Step 2 and  
Print Step 3 sell for $19.95 
and are immediately accessible for download to your computer.

Peterson Directed Handwriting sells Cursive materials as well.

Want to look EVERY PAGE of the e-workbooks?
Scroll down until you see in bold print "PDF By Hand E-Workbooks For Print Writing"

Want to learn EVEN MORE??

If you would like to read more reviews on Peterson Directed Handwriting please visit TOS Homeschool Crew's Website.

Disclaimer:  I am a member of The Old Schoolhouse 2010-2011 Homeschool Crew and receive free products and services in exchange for a thorough and honest review.  Though I am compensated with free products, I am not compensated in the form of cash for my reviews.  My reviews will always reflect my honest opinions, findings, beliefs and experiences on the products and services that I receive.


Linda said...

Great review!

Julie Coney said...

great review! I reviewed the cursive, and enjoyed the curriculum as well.

Tim @ Families Again said...

Fantastic Review! I loved the introduction, thorough description and honest opinions. And, you are right, Peterson is very customer friendly.

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