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We Write to Read Home School Handwriting Kit (Complete Version Grade One) Review by Amy Christy

Peterson Directed Handwriting
315 South Maple
Gettysburg, PA 15601-3218

Though it is sadly becoming a lost art in this age of emails and text messages, handwriting is still a very important skill to be mastered. The Peterson Directed Handwriting company has created a wonderful program to help children do just that. This complete First Grade kit comes with a 47-page teacher handbook, a non-consumable student booklet, two triangular pencils, a "Handwriting Songs" audio cassette, an animated letter card CD, and two self-adhesive slant position guides. The books are definitely what I would call "no frills," but they provide excellent instruction nonetheless.

The Peterson Method has four steps. The first step is to illustrate and describe the letter for students so that they can establish a rhythm. In Steps 2-4, the students "air write," finger-trace, and say each step while writing the letters on their own paper. Tracing is done only with the fingers, which makes this program stand out from the others I have tried. This also means that the student book can be used again and again. The teacher handbook contains 36 weeks of instruction broken up into six units of detailed lesson plans.

Students begin with basic physical position skills (body, paper, pencil) and continue with spacing, sequence, and letter formation. As the student traces each letter with his finger, he says the action words along with it. Saying such words as "slant left" or "tall down" helps the child automatically recall the steps and the important basics of starting at the top and left-to-right.

The CD has a wonderful feature. Each letter becomes animated so that the child can practice "air writing" along with it on the computer screen. This allows for extra practice that's fun! Speaking of fun, there are songs and rhymes to learn along the way, such as "The Pencil Song," "The Position/Paper Song," and "Singing Lines." As they say, the right pencil does make a difference. The triangular pencils that come with the kit help the child to keep the correct pencil grip for comfortable, efficient writing. The website offers many resources, teacher support, and extras. I saw significant improvement in my son's handwriting after using this course, and we both enjoyed using it. I would definitely recommend it.

Product review by: Amy Christy, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, July 2008