Peterson Directed Handwriting is unique among the available handwriting curricula. It uses a multi-sensory, movement-based approach to handwriting. Instruction begins with teaching students the basic strokes in letter formation, but instead of tracing or copying these strokes, the student draws them using his or her forefinger in the air. What makes Peterson even more different is the addition of vocalizing these strokes. As a stroke is made the student says the name of the stroke (round top, loop top, etc..). Once this step is mastered the student moves on to finger tracing the strokes, and eventually to writing them. The written strokes are large to begin with but as students progress through the course the size of the strokes and letters becomes smaller. Once the various strokes are mastered the students then learn how to begin forming cursive letters. The same approach is used: air writing, followed by finger tracing, followed by writing.
Peterson Directed Handwriting is quite a bit more parent-intensive than most other handwriting programs. It requires a great deal of reading in order to learn how to teach the program to your children. I didn't mind this aspect of the program, but it is important to note that it is not a handwriting program that you can just hand over to your child for independent work.
I used Peterson Directed Handwriting with my 4th grader, Ben. When I introduced Peterson Directed Handwriting to him he was initially excited because it required far less actual writing than his current handwriting curriculum did. Our first step was to go over proper pencil grip and paper placement. His pencil grip was fine, except for being just a little low on the pencil. Teaching proper paper placement, however, was a bit more of a challenge. He's been writing with his paper perfectly straight in front of him instead of at an angle. Once we got this corrected we moved on to trying to learn the basic strokes that make up cursive letters.
We did not have much success, however. Ben felt like the "chanting" as he made each stroke was confusing and maybe a little silly. He was unhappy about re-learning the cursive alphabet as well, feeling like it was a waste of time since he already knew how to form all of his letters. I can't say I didn't agree with him. If it had been either of my other two children I might have pushed more for them to use this program longer. With Ben, however, I know that it's best to stick with what is working for him already. He doesn't appreciate change, and anything that creates more frustration for him is best left out of his day.
The Bottom Line
Each Peterson Directed Handwriting course is available for purchase for the reasonable price of $19.95. Because these workbooks are electronic, it is a non-consumable item that you will be able to use again and again with your children, making this an excellent value for your homeschool dollar. There are a variety of other products, and combination packages as well. The website is not very user-friendly, however, so I'd recommend consulting the company for advice on which products you might need.
This program would be ideal for those who are just beginning to learn handwriting or for children who are struggling. Students who have already begun handwriting and are not having difficulties might find it confusing and/or frustrating to switch to this approach. I wish that I had discovered Peterson Directed Handwriting sooner in our homeschool journey. My results in using this might have been very different!
I received this product for free as a member of TOS Homeschool Crew. My opinions are solely my own and are not influenced in any way. I am not being reimbursed in anyway for this review. What I have shared is simply our experience, your mileage may vary.