Monday, August 30, 2010

TOS Review: Peterson Directed Handwriting

Hypotonia is a state of low muscle tone (the amount of tension or resistance to movement in a muscle), often involving reduced muscle strength. (from Wikipedia)

Hypotonia was not something I had ever heard of before I had Music Man. It is something he has struggled with every single day of his life. From eating issues to walking and everything in between, Music Man has had to work at it. Hard. We have to train his muscles to do the things that most people take for granted. Handwriting is probably one of the most difficult challenges he faces.

If you know anything about Music Man, you know he loves to sing and dance - anything with rhythm gets him excited, hence his pseudonym. Any time I need him to really learn something (say my cell phone number, for instance) I put it to music. Sometime we make up a rhyme or a little chant. We have even added on to songs/chants/rhymes we already know.

Peterson Directed Handwriting seems to be written just for Music Man. There is rhythm. There is movement. There is repetition and routine - all things Music Man likes and thrives with. Peterson Directed Handwriting is a program much unlike any other handwriting program I have ever seen. It is unique in that it utilizes several senses at once incorporating hearing, moving, and speaking. It stresses mastery of basic strokes, a concept I have not found in other programs. The first day using it, just implementing a different way of holding the pencil and paper, made a huge difference in how Music Man made a basic stroke. Each basic stroke has a name and the name is what is chanted while actually making the stroke. We've all heard the cliche' it's just like riding a bike. Using multiple senses, the rhythm of this program trains the brain to do something (write) without having to think about forming the letters. He even chants the cute rhyme included to remind you how to hold the pencil.

Over and over you will see in the curriculum notes to the teacher NOT to allow the student to trace the letters with a pencil. In addition to the curriculum there are many items related to teaching handwriting on the website that are available free of charge to anyone who is interested. One I found particularly helpful was a presentation about why we as teachers should not allow children to trace letters with a pencil or crayon.

Peterson's 15-minutes-a-day philosophy also keeps my highly distracted ready to conquer the world and get on with it kids engaged just long enough they don't get bored. It is an easy program to implement once you understand the method for teaching. The entire program and lesson plans are even available online for viewing so you can see for yourself the benefits of the program!

There are several eBooks in the series available on the website as well as printed material. Materials are available for all ages ranges including Pre-K and Kindergarten, First Grade, Second Grade, Third Grade and Fourth Grade and Up. There are many additional resources available including online training sessions, pencils, wall charts, fonts and complete Homeschool Handwriting Kits! We specifically used the Grade One Print eBook which retails for $19.99 and allows you to print indefinitely from your computer.

I thoroughly enjoyed this review and plan to continue using Peterson as our curriculum this year. Music Man has made some great progress over the last month and I am confident he will continue to!

As a member of The Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Crew, I received this product free of charge  for the purpose of review. No other compensation was received.


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