Monday, August 30, 2010
This review came at a really wonderful time for my family! My 3rd grade daughter has been asking all summer long when she can start learning to write in cursive. When I told her that we were receiving a handwriting program to review for the TOS Homeschool Crew, she was thrilled! Mary Grace is a very young 3rd grader since she started school a year early, so I wasn't sure if her motor skills would be good enough to tackle cursive writing. Since we needed to review this writing program, though, I decided to let her give it a try and see how well she can do.
I had heard of Peterson before receiving the materials for this review, but I had never looked at their materials or used their program before. I was interested in trying them out because I never know when I might come across something that I really like and just never took the time to look into before. I have to say that I'm really glad we were asked to do this Peterson review! We like the program a lot!
You will find all the details about the program and exactly how to use and teach it on the website and in the materials. One of the first things I read in my materials told about the three basic movements that Mary Grace would need to learn in order to create the four basic strokes needed for cursive writing. (The "movements" refers to the movement process--the actual physical ways she needs to learn to move her arm and hand and pencil--in order to form the basic strokes and letters. There is lots more information about this on the website.) The four basic strokes are them explained and given names.
The basic strokes are the "sharp top," "loop top," "round top," and "roll top." You can see examples of each of them here. These strokes are difficult to describe in words, but when you see the examples on the website, it will make perfect sense to you. My daughter really loves the way these strokes are named. I found that, when I used the names for the strokes, she remembered exactly which stroke she was supposed to be making and was able to use the correct one. If she was supposed to make a lowercase "h," for example, I reminded her to use the loop top. This helped her remember that the top of the "h" is not supposed to have a sharp point like the sharp top, but instead it is supposed to have a small loop at the top. (Remember she is doing the cursive letters, so the top of the "h" is a loop, not a sharp point.)
There are several steps that are taught and used to help the child learn how to move in order to make the correct strokes to write the letters. There is demonstration, air writing, finger tracing, and write & say. If you are interested in learning more about the Peterson Method and the science behind it, you can click on this link to see a video which explains all of that. The video is a bit technical, but you may enjoy watching it if you are interested in learning more about why this method is successful for so many children. For me, though, more important than the science behind it all is whether or not it seems to work well for my own child.
As far as Mary Grace and I are concerned, this program works very well for her. She loves learning to write in cursive and is highly motivated to do it. She enjoys saying and writing the basic strokes and seems to really benefit from knowing the names of the strokes in order to help her make sure she's using the correct ones at the correct times. She enjoys all of the other activities that help her learn to make the correct movements. She likes the colorful example letters (with the different parts of the letters made with different colors to help show which stroke to make) and the colorful practice pages. In fact, the only thing she didn't like is that she "had to" learn a few preliminary things about the system before she was able to pick up her pencil and actually start practicing the letters!
You can visit the Peterson Directed Handwriting website to take a look for yourself. You can click on quite a few links from there, but I found the Information Directory option very helpful myself. If you check out the website, you will be able to find out much about the basic method, view examples, learn the science behind why it works, find out how to know which level to use for your child, and more.
When I asked Mary Grace what she wanted to say about the handwriting program on this review, she said to say, "I like it!" So that's the official word from Hilton Christian Academy (our homeschool!). We like it!
Complete homeschool handwriting kits are available for about $40.00 each level. You can view an order form to see the exact prices. Look on the left-hand side below the shipping and payment information, and you will see the homeschool kit prices there.
Some other Crew members used different levels of this program. Some used the cursive program as we did, and some used print. If you want to see their reviews and see how the program worked for them, you can do so here.
NOTE: I received the materials for this review free of charge in exchange for writing this review. The opinions in this review are my own.