Peterson Directed Handwriting

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  • Reviewed on Thursday, October 4, 2007
  • Grades Used: 1st
  • Dates used: 2007
My son had gone through a couple of different handwriting curriculums that taught formation of numbers and letters through tracing over lines. I looked at those curriculums and thought "This is great! Easy for me and he gets great practice at handwriting."

However, things didn't go as planned. While my ds could easily trace over the lines and even make his letters and numbers independent of the tracing lines, his work without the lines was sloppy. He even regressed to the point where he was making his letters incorrectly. Plus, I noticed a pencil grip that was incorrect and a posture and paper postition that just wasn't working.

Peterson Directed Handwriting curriculum really helped us out. The student is not writing in the book so it is non-consumable. A plus for me since I plan to use it for my future students. The product we bought included two Try-Rex pencils which helped my ds greatly with his pencil grip. They also offer pencil grips to buy that have helped a great deal too. The curriculum starts with the basics: pencil grip, posture, and paper placement. All things I had tried to teach before but this time it made more sense.

Then, practice starts not with tracing lines with a pencil but with a finger. The first strokes that are made are pieces of writing and not a whole number or letter. So, then when it is time to teach how to form a letter, you just instruct on the pieces until they fall together to make the desired letter / number. "Ok. Roll around, slant left, the slide right = 2" and so on. This type of instruction worked much better for my ds. And, he wasn't getting away with just tracing lines. All of his work was done without the aid of tracing guides on the paper so I could really see how his work was progressing.

For us, this curriculum has been a simple yet effective program for learning how to handwrite neatly. I am really happy with this program and plan to follow it through in the years to come.


  • Reviewed on Tuesday, February 6, 2007
  • Grades Used: k
  • Dates used: 2007
This handwriting curriculum helped us overcome some difficulties we were having with our prior method. My son had developed a habit of starting all his letters at the bottom before we officially started school. This, along with an incorrect pencil grip, were causing him to be very frustrated every time we practiced handwriting. This curriculum quickly (and happily on his part) broke him of these habits. It is very different than other handwriting approaches. It starts with prewriting exercises to help them better understand left to right, top to bottom, exercises to emphasize starting from the top, how to hold the pencil, etc. It then teaches some basic strokes that are used to make the letters. Each movement is given a name (such as tall down, slant, hook around.) When each letter is taught it is first taught by airwriting and saying the strokes for each letter. A computer cd-rom is part of the program, so that they can airwrite with the computer. The book also can be used to finger trace. This has been the most helpful part of the program. After saying and airwriting the child begins to automatically think the strokes each time they make the letter, helping them remember to start at the top, etc. The curriculum also emphasize proper paper angle and how to sit in order to write correctly. My son's pencil grip has improved so much. They explain how to hold the pencil, and why, so that it reallly makes sense. The writers did a lot of research before writing the curriculum and had studied why students start writing from the bottom, and many other problems, they explain why and what the solution is. You have choices of "styles" such as verical print, slant, cursive and another one. I highly recommend this curriculum!


  • Reviewed on Thursday, April 3, 2003
  • Grades Used: 2
  • Dates used: 2003
This is a very complete program. It teaches and then reinforces at all grade levels proper pencil grip, body position, paper position, and letter formation. I have yet to see another penmanship program that does much to teach how to hold the paper and pencil comfortably and efficiently. It uses a lot of gross motor excercises, which can be fun if you're practicing your letter strokes in water on the backyard fence.

Learning the letters themselves is basically a 4-step process. the teacher (parent) demonstrates how the letter is formed, the child airwrites the letter, then fingertraces the letter in the book, then writes the letter on his/her paper. This is NOT copywork. When the process is correct, the product will gradually improve. It also teaches correct word/letter spacing.

Kindergarten and 1st grade are standard vertical printing, 2nd grade introduces slant print and cursive readiness, 3rd grade is beginning cursive, and 4ht grade and up are advanced cursive. They also have a book for adults and some very comfortable pencils.

It also transfers to other subjects. Numbers, for instance, are practiced during math time. If you want, that is... They have a plan, but it is flexible. It's also very inexpensive. Only about $3 for a student book and about $5 for a teacher's manual. And because the only writing you actually do in the book is with your finger, you can reuse them. We bought a $.79 pad of lined paper from the local discount store.

We've really enjoyed this program this year. My kids hated handwriting books and even copywork with poems and such got tedious after a while. This program added variety and covered all the bases. I even fixed my own pencil grip.