Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Peterson Directed Handwriting


Peterson Directed Handwriting’s teaching method makes a lot of sense to me, and I am currently using it to teach cursive to my kindergarten daughter. There are many teacher helps on their website and they are always willing to meet and help you through bumps in the road.

I did find that the material itself could be laid out better in order to make use of the material.

More time will need to pass before I will know if this method produces good results but what I have seen so far is promising.


Handwriting is an important subject in our house. To me it is more than just learning how to make the shapes of the letters. It is an integral part of the whole foundation of communication. It is not just about the letters looking nice on the page. Good penmanship is the beginning step of strong composition.

Thus I was very interested in trying Peterson Directed Handwriting. I had watched a video on their website several months ago about only using finger tracing and it made a lot of sense. Their method of locking the movements into muscle memory then moving toward actually writing on paper intrigued me.

During my online meeting with Rand Nelson, VP of Marketing for Peterson Directed Handwriting, we determined that the best level to try with my 6-year old daughter would be Cursive 2. She had previously learned both printing and cursive, but her foundation was not very solid.

Thus began our journey with Peterson Directed Handwriting. The road has been a bit rocky; however, it is starting to smooth out. But not without a lot of brain work on my part.

I do much better when material is organized with a clear, logical progression. Unfortunately, my Cursive 2 E-book was not such a book. I had already watched the tutorial videos on the website so I knew there were crucial parts of the program that were not being presented on the pages. I was expecting an overview of the method and then a clear progression of movements and letters that I was supposed to teach. Instead there was no overview and the worksheets started at the 3rd step in the process, finger tracing. And, even then, it taught a stroke with one wording then changed the wording of the stroke on the next exercise. It does not make sense to me to change the wording if you are trying to lock a sequence of words that when verbalized will drive the writing.

So I did what so many homeschoolers do when material doesn’t fit their needs. I tweaked it. I took the 4 major components of the Peterson Method, used the stroke wording from our current handwriting program, and started teaching my kindergartener. For each letter, we are working on large muscle memory, finger tracing, writing without lines, then writing with lines – all the while making sure the voice is driving the pencil. When we write without lines on the white board, I have her close her eyes and do it. This helps me gauge if the muscle memory is strong before moving onto using the finer muscles. Even with the few letters we have done, I am seeing the importance of each step, especially the large muscle memory. The first couple letters my daughter worked on, we did much work with each step. She is very confident when writing them. The next letters we rushed through the first steps and prematurely moved to pencil and paper. She was not near as solid with those letters. We went back and worked more on the large muscle memory and she is now more confident with the newer letters as well.


I feel that Peterson Directed Handwriting’s method of teaching has much merit and is worth investigating. The part lacking is the organization and clarity of the material which, unfortunately, for me is a huge block. The company is very willing to meet with customers to help them through any frustrations or struggles. So it isn’t about a lack of customer service. I just don’t have time to set up a personal online session, scour a website reading online instructions, or to watch training videos. I need everything to all be clearly spelled out in the material so when I am preparing for class at 9 o’clock at night I can easily see what direction I am going and what I need to teach.

Great method – Material needs a little work.

You can read here what other Crew members experienced with Peterson’s Directed Handwriting.

Disclosure:This product was provided to our family for free as members of the 2009-2010 Old Schoolhouse Magazine Homeschool Crew. No further compensation was received. Reviews and opinions expressed in this blog are my own.

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