Sunday, March 22, 2009

Learning to write with Peterson Handwriting

Peterson Handwriting is a company located in Pennsylvania who is specialized in providing a writing program to everyone who wants to improve their writing or learn to write. The objective is to provide a research-based, developmentally-organized, time-efficient and cost-effective curriculum for the integration of fluent American symbolic language patterns. Don’t be scare with this way of saying things. Bottom line is that they have researched for the best way of doing thing in the writing world and they believe that they have found it. To learn more about their method and their background, you can look at the explanation of their method on their website. This is handy to know because their method is quite overwhelming at first but once you understand it... piece of cake!

Since I was part of the crew, I received a kit for my junior kindergarten and a kit for my 2nd grader who was starting to learn to write in cursive. The cursive part in itself is difficult… It’s a new way of learning to write and I am wondering if I am gifted in this area. This is the main reason why I asked them to send me the Introducing Cursive so I can review it. As for my junior Kindergarten, he was at the beginning of learning how to write and read so this was a bonus for us. Finally some guidelines for me to teach him! My oldest had learned how to write in preschool, junior kindergarten and senior kindergarten and I had little involvement in this specific task. Will I be able to pull it with my 4 year old?

I must admit that Peterson Handwriting is well organized. Let’s start with the program “Get Ready for Writing and Reading”. This program comes with lessons plans, a book for the child to write in called ABC’s and 123’s as well as a CD with animated Letter cards which will show the child how to print the letter. The CD is easy to use - you simply open up your file in the Internet browser and it will show you how to write a letter. The program for kindergarteners start slowly with making sure the child knows his left and right side and with fingers exercises. There are also exercises for coloring so you can determine with which hand your child is using the crayons. I think it is wise to start like this as it gives you an idea on how your child is holding the crayons. Then comes basic exercises of tracing and eventually the child can start tracing the letters in his book. So it is a work in progress and it doesn’t take a long time every day. Eventually the child will be able to write his letter with no problem. I am not done with this specific program with my 4 year old and I am planning to continue it and eventually use it for my younger kids as well.

Now, about the Introducing Cursive curriculum... I have mixed feeling about this one since my son already had a base of writing under his belt. Honestly, it was difficult to include in our daily school plan. Why? I don’t know – mostly resistance from me and him I guess. For example, just the fact that he had to place his paper while using the guide. That is still a work in progress between you and me. In this package, I received the teacher handbook as well as the children booklet. Mind you, it is well explained and easy to follow but when you have a child that already had learned a way of doing things, it a bit hard to change things around. Again, I am planning to continue pursuing this program to see if at the end my oldest will write in cursive more fluently than he is right now.

Also included in both packages are the famous triangular pencils and some position guides to help you get the proper position to writing. The triangular pencil is a must I think. This little tool is wonderful as it help the child to hold the pencil properly in their hand. I also liked the position guides even for myself. I realized that with the years, I might not have gotten the proper position while I was writing. The guides are easy to use and can be adaptable for left or right hand writing.

According to their website - The difference is rhythm! But to get rhythm I think someone should start at the beginning of this program (which unfortunately wasn’t the case for my oldest!). And honestly, I think that if you already started with something else, then you need to brace yourself and found lots of patience to go through it with your kids.

Finally, just to give you an idea on how much you should expect to spend to get this curriculum, let me tell you the prices for the ones I have received. The “Get Ready for Writing and Reading” curriculum is listed for 44.70$ US for the complete kit and the “Introducing Cursive” Basic package is listed at 15.05$ US. I think the prices are quite reasonable.

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