Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Peterson's Directed Handwriting


Peterson’s Directed Handwriting is unlike any handwriting program I have come across in the past. It is based on research showing that the trace & copy method is a poor substitute for motor control science. Its foundation is movement, recognizing handwriting as a psychomotor skill, and focuses on the “how” of writing as a fluid motion rather than simply the drawing of letters.

The website contains many, many articles sharing the research and thought process behind the Peterson method. It is highly recommended that you read through everything on the site to help you understand what this method is and to help you determine how this may fit your family. Once you’ve read through the multitude of information, they are very happy to help you personally decide what levels would best meet your child’s needs. It seemed to me that the heart of this company was in helping children to have legible handwriting skills, especially those who may struggle in this area.

I read through the site myself and was very excited to receive the material, as handwriting was one skill I am determined to see improved in my children this year. Unfortunately, my excitement dimmed when I received the package. I found the Teacher Handbook somewhat difficult to follow, the material visually unappealing, and the program to be extremely classroom based. Peterson’s focuses on position in teaching fluency of movement and comes with desk position guides and suggestions for proper posture at the students desk. We do not have desks at home, we use the kitchen table, and so this was somewhat discouraging. I found myself less motivated to really get into the program.

The design of the program is that the student does not use the pencil until fluency of movement is achieved. Each letter is made up of certain movements and they trace these with their fingers, in the air and then in the book. The goal is natural movement, making handwriting second nature to the child. I really love the idea of this and think this would be especially wonderful for the student who struggles with writing. While the program seems somewhat difficult to learn to use, the research behind it and the assumed results would be worth taking the time and effort. I may take a second stab at it myself in the future.

I received the Third Grade complete packet, which included a Teacher Handbook, a Pupil Book, Two Triangular Pencils, an Animated Letter Cards Cd Rom, and two self-adhesive position guides (for the desk). This is available on the website for $15.05. As noted before, they are very helpful when emailing to ask for direction in what to order, so be sure to make use of the personal service. That is an added blessing!

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