Monday, August 30, 2010

TOS Crew Review - Peterson Directed Handwriting


Peterson Directed Handwriting is a company that has been around for a long time, serving both homeschools and public schools, however, just recently, they added digital products to their product line. I was chosen to review their new "PDF By Hand" eWorkbooks for beginning Cursive Writing.

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I found the whole process and theory behind the Peterson Directed Handwriting method fascinating! Instead of teaching your child to "draw" letters in various shapes through tracing, Peterson Directed Handwriting teaches the child to break down each letter into combinations of four basic handstrokes. To teach these handstrokes, a method using voice-hand coordination is taught, so the child speaks his way through each part of the letter, which makes the process very rhythmic and smooth, as good handwriting should be! Lots of movement practice is done before a pencil even touches the paper, enforcing muscle memory and making writing more natural. Focus is also placed on proper pencil grip as well as paper slant for easiest maneuvering.

Customer Service at Peterson Directed Handwriting is excellent and it is obvious that Rand Nelson, the director of Peterson Directed Handwriting, is very eager to make sure his customers are able to understand and use the products effectively - which goes a long way in the customer service world!

That all being said, I am sad to say that despite my excitement about the method and the support from the company, this product just didn't "fit" our family well. We had a hard time getting started with it - I found the instructions heavy on interesting theory, but finding out the steps needed to actually *do* the lessons was more vague. I spent alot of time searching for the step-by-step process written somewhere in the e-book, and I couldn't find them all in one place cohesively. As I mentioned, there is alot of help on the website in various audio teachings and articles, but, personally, when I download an ebook, I like everything I need, easy to find, contained within the ebook. Also, the children actually had trouble moving past the first few steps... gaining the mastery of the motions as suggested by the company was difficult for them.

This might say a alot more about me and the boys than it does the product, but that was our experience and I wanted to be honest in regards to it. Also, please keep in mind that since all homeschooling families are different - what may be drawbacks for me, could be benefits in another family's situation!

Here are the aspects about Peterson Directed Handwriting which I appreciated:
  • Very in-depth
  • Knowing the "science behind it" (the whys of the method) helped me walk the boys through the process of good handwriting
  • Great customer service
  • Website has lots of information available (a must for digital products, in my opinion)
Here are some of the things that I considered drawbacks for our family and style of homeschooling:
  • Not open-and-go or independent for the student - it requires a lot of teacher interaction
  • Required alot of time and focus for me to figure out how to teach - somewhat overwhelming!
  • Mastery was hard to accomplish and we felt like there wasn't much progress made, even over the course of several weeks
Peterson Directed Handwriting offers full samples of each level so that you may figure out which is best for you and get a good feel for the program! Like I mentioned before, what were drawbacks for us might not even be an issue in your homeschool. These samples are free, but you cannot print any pages from them - in order to print pages, you must actually order the eWorkbooks. The price is only $19.95 per level, which is a really economical price, in my opinion, especially considering they are totally non-consumable - you can print as many pages as you need as many times as you need them.

I do highly recommend watching the "Peterson Method How-To" slide show to get a deeper idea about their methods - I think you'll be intrigued! Explore their website more, and who knows? Even though it didn't suit us perfectly, it just might be exactly what you've been looking for in a handwriting program! Also, be sure to check out what other homeschoolers thought of the product by checking out the TOS Homeschool Crew blog!

Disclaimer: I was given this product specifically for the purpose of reviewing here on my blog as a member of TOS Homeschool Crew. I received no other compensation in regards to this review.

1 comment:

Christina said...

Just wondering what others thought about this product. I agree that it was not easy to figure out what to do, but the method certainly makes the most sense to me.