Today's Wisdom

Monday, August 30, 2010

Peterson Directed Handwriting Cursive E-book Review


I have heard of Peterson Directed Handwriting before but never used any of there products so I was excited for the opportunity to get this review. 

All of my children have started cursive writing and I have used various products with two of them.  Sarah (7) just started last year and Stephen (9) started 2 years ago.  Stephen still needed much improvement with his cursive writing.  Sarah's writing was really good for her age but could still use some improvement.  

Jonathan (12) had his first cursive practice in public school where quite honestly cursive penmanship isn't stressed at all.  If it was legible, you could write in manuscript or cursive.  I'm assuming that in today's computer world penmanship is just not as important of a subject as it once was. 

For our family it is a subject I am passionate about so we will continue practice daily.  Here are some statements taken directly from the Peterson Directed Handwriting Website to further my passion on this subject!

  • Research has shown powerful links between internalized handwriting movement patterns and the reading process.  
  • Research has shown simple ways to know when a movement pattern has been internalized.
  • Research has shown that fluent reading and composition involve multiple areas of the brain working in cooperation. 
  • Research has shown that challenging physical learning activities stimulate new pathways for cooperation between parts of the brain. 
  • Research has shown that fluent movement has measurable characteristics and as a result, can be taught and learned. 
  • Research has shown that the strategy employed during handwriting lessons is critical if fluency is to be an objective. 
  • Research has shown that handwriting fluency is connected to reading skill development for many entry level students.

At first introduction of the Peterson Directed Handwriting method, I was confused, amazed, and shocked.  I had never seen anything like this before.  When I was taught to write we were shown how to make a letter, given a paper with the letter made, and told to copy the letter over and over.  I have used the same method with my own children.  This method is highly discouraged in the Peterson Method.  It becomes more of drawing practice than writing practice.  For more on this please listen to this audio.   If you are like me, it will blow your mind!

The Peterson Directed Handwriting uses 4 steps to help guide the writing process.  The 4 steps are:

1.  Illustrate and Describe

Show the child the start point, end point and direction for the stroke they are making.  Each stroke is also color coded as to which comes first. 

2.  Write In the Air and Say

You will then have the child write in the air saying the name of each stroke.  They can use their finger, elbow, nose...whatever.  Just make sure that they are making the strokes correctly and going in the right direction.  If not, you must stop here and show them the correct way.  Do not go on until each step is mastered correctly.

3.  Finger Trace and Say

Now you are moving to their paper.  They will finger trace the stoke on their paper while saying the stoke out loud.  The saying part is very important in each step.  It seems weird at first but you are training the muscle memory.

4.  Write and Say
Here the child will actually put pencil to paper and write the stroke still saying the stroke along with writing it. 

It seems like a lot of steps but each step doesn't take long at all to go through.  And you are guiding the muscle memory into making the correct strokes not just copying/drawing the strokes.  The curriculum shows you 4 basic strokes that are the building blocks to all 26 lowercase letters.

Even though both of my children have had previous cursive experience I started from the beginning (with book 1) because they were not taught these techniques.  Mastery is the key element here so we are taking our time and really going through each stroke.  The kids enjoy the air writing time best so far =)  It's fun to use different body parts for air writing!  As for improvement in penmanship so far, I can see a start.   We are doing retraining here and taking this very slowly in an effort to obtain mastery this time around!

This review is specifically for The Peterson Directed Cursive E-books.  If you would like to see exactly what is included in the e-books you can view each one here.  The print is disabled for this feature but you can see exactly what you are getting for your money!  I love that!!  If money is tight you still have the techniques there for you to follow. 

If you decide that you like what you see, you can purchase an individual license that allows you to download and print each e-book for $19.95 each here.  This way you can print extra sheets to practice the techniques that your child just may not be getting yet.  And you can use them over and over and over!  You can also use it with all your children!

  • one time purchase for multiple uses with multiple children
  • a totally different approach to handwriting
  • cost considering usage is awesome
  • you can see exactly what you are buying before you buy it
  • this works with many different age levels - it's basic stuff but even my 12 year old is doing it and helping to teach his brother and sister.
  • one of my favorite things about this company is they are so willing to help with any questions you may have. They are very generous in offering their audios and products for viewing for FREE!!  I'll support a company like that ALL THE TIME!  I had a meeting with Rand Nelson and he was so awesome and willing to help in anyway that he could.


  • ink costs
  • some preparation is needed ahead of time - ie: printing sheets out
  • this is not an independent curriculum - you need to be there to immediately correct stokes that are made incorrectly.
Overall, for our family so far this is working and I would highly recommend it.  For more in depth information on the Peterson Directed Handwriting Method please listen to this audio.

Please visit The Old Schoolhouse Crew Blog to see what my fellow crewmates thought about this product along with different variations.

**Disclaimer: I was provided a free copy of this product for review purposes. The opinions in this post are my honest evaluation of this product. I was given no other compensation for this review.


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