Monday, August 30, 2010

Peterson Directed Handwriting

I have learned a lot of wonderful information about handwriting since receiving e-books from one of the TOS Crew's vendors, Peterson Directed Handwriting. The research behind this handwriting curriculum is valuable to any parent who is not sure how to teach their child to write properly, or has a child struggling to learn to write. This method simply makes sense! I strongly encourage you to take the time to visit their Information Directory, read the information, and watch the videos in order to fully understand this company's way of doing things. I will never have my children trace a model with a pencil ever again after watching this video found at their Information Directory page.

As a member of the TOS Crew, I was given the opportunity to participate in an online training session. At first, all the information was overwhelming. Their method truly is a lot to process, but after spending time going over the notes I took while in the training session, and reading on their website, and watching various presentations online, I am confident that the research behind this handwriting curriculum is solid and is frankly exciting to learn about! I wish I knew about the research behind this method 5 years ago when my now 9-year-old son was only 4-years-old.

The Peterson method is all about helping your child grasp the gross motor skills first, and then move on to the fine motor skills of writing. Have your child use his pointer finger to trace a model letter (not a pencil) because you are trying to train muscle memory instead of visually guiding the pencil. I wrote this down as I took notes at my training session: "When using the pencil to trace instead of finger, rhythmic movement is removed and it becomes drawing practice rather than writing practice. The goal is to learn how to move the pencil with the voice using the rhythmic chants assigned to each letter."

There are four steps to take to develop a lesson using the Peterson Method:
1) Illustrate and Describe: Use a large visual of the letter and specific words to describe each letter stroke. The letter strokes are broken into different colors, and you always make a letter in the same color sequence.
2) Air Writing: Big strokes using different muscles to help your child memorize movement in the muscle memory. The key to this is moving your arm with your voice. As you make each stroke you say the words.
3) Finger tracking with chant: Using printed pages a student finger-writes, again, guiding with the voice instead of the eyes. This is beginning to work the movements into smaller muscle memory.
4) Write and Say: Using a pencil on unlined paper first, then lined paper as a child gains practice and control, they write. As they gain speed in their writing there are shorter ways to direct the pencil with your voice. You can count beats instead of saying the cue words given on the large visuals given in the Peterson curriculum.

I have been using this product with my son. We are using the cursive e-books. Here is what a lesson looks like at our house.
1) Illustrate and Describe - I print out a large visual model from the e-book, and we look at it together, and I describe the rhythmic chants to go along with it (sometimes my son will come up with easier chants than the ones given and we use those instead).
2) We air write using our fingers and our elbows. Using elbows is a fun recommendation from Peterson to just change things up a bit, be silly, and have some fun. Again, the goal is to get this information stored in your child's muscle memory. We are working on gross motor skills at this point in the lesson.
3) Then we move on to finger tracking with chant, using the large visual model.
4) Write and Say - Right now we are only using a small dry erase board. He is writing his letter of the day quite large, and that's alright, because that's where we are right now. The goal is to decrease the size of the written letters a little at a time. Using unlined paper at first (or dry erase board in our case) and progress to lined paper. The large visual model is hidden at this point. The child is to recall from his muscle memory and using the rhythmic chant, not copying off the visual model.

This entire lesson from start to finish lasts no more than five minutes. The goal is to spend time daily working on a new cursive letter. My son really doesn't care for writing, so this short and active lesson is perfect for his personality and learning style! I have been very pleased with how this has been a good fit for him.

I would like to share that if someone from Peterson saw my son hold his pencil they would probably have an anxiety attack, but I have tried for 5 years to get him to hold his pencil "correctly" and when it brings a child to tears and he gets frustrated and explains to you that he can write better holding his pencil his way, well, I have simply chosen not to fight this battle because he is doing just fine.

Each e-book from Peterson Directed Handwriting costs $19.95. If you are comfortable developing your own lesson plans, then you may be fine simply purchasing these e-books only, but if not, you will want to purchase either a basic or complete Homeschool Kit. Both of the kits include a teacher handbook, student text, and position guide. I did not receive a teacher handbook, only the student e-books, so I don't have a review to offer for that particular product, but I wanted to share that they are available.

I do want to make it clear that this curriculum takes some time and work to figure out. It is very important to read the information and watch the videos in order to fully grasp why they do things the way they do things.

You can click here and preview all the e-books available.

Please click over to the TOS Crew's blog to read more Peterson Directed Handwriting reviews.

*I received this product free of charge for review purposes.*

1 comment:

Heather said...

This product looks like something I might want to try with my Three Amigos, and even my lefty 12 yo. I appreciate how you laid out the process. I finally get the idea of the technique, which I have really been wondering about, since I did not get to review this product. I think I may try some of these ideas (minus the jingles) with the kids and if they seem to be helping, I will definitely invest in the books. Thank you for answering questions I had been asking!