Monday, August 30, 2010

Peterson Directed Handwriting - A Review

Peterson Directed Handwriting - Cursive Step 2

$29.95/81-page E-Workbook
$19.95/59-page E-Workbook

Created by:
Rand Nelson

To Purchase:

Cursive Step 2

Other Products:
Many handwriting tools and PDF books for both print and cursive. Products

Age Range:

Brief Overview:
"Movement-Based Strategy for Instruction & Learning - Successful since 1908"

The Peterson Handwriting Workbooks use a unique style for teaching the cursive letters. Children first become fluent in the basic shapes used in the letters. Then, once it is second nature, the children begin putting the shapes together to make the letters.

In-Depth Look:
My oldest daughter learned cursive with a workbook where you trace the letters and then write your own. This is the way most people learn, I guess. We are just starting to get into cursive with my next oldest. So I was curious to see a different method.

I was able to download Cursive Step 2, in exchange for using the products and writing my honest opinion. After a brief on-line session with Mr. Nelson, I felt like I had a better feel for what the program was all about. Then, I spent some time browsing the website. It has several helpful videos that answer some common questions and give some how-to's. A good place to start is the 20-minute introduction to how the program works.

I am very impressed with Mr. Nelson. He is a kind man, a man with a vast amount of knowledge. He obviously knows a lot about handwriting and how children learn. Mr. Nelson is always more than willing to help a teacher out, to offer tips and answers questions . . . to encourage you and your child.

I had both of my children try out the program, Cursive Step 2. We worked on memorizing the basic moves, such as sharp top and roll top. We practiced some of the basic skills that the program recommends such as air tracing. We also moved on to the actual writing of some of the letters.

How did we like it? Well, we didn't have as much success with this method as we did with the method we used in the past (just memorizing how the letters are formed). I understand that learning the basic shapes can help a student function from that basic starting point. If I tell my child to draw a lowercase "u", they have to draw on the sole knowledge of how to draw that one letter. But if I tell them to draw a "sharp top, sharp top", then they can draw on the knowledge of those few basic shapes that they have repeatedly practiced to be used with multiple letters.

But it just didn't seem natural to me. When a child learns to print, they learn to print each letter individually. It seems natural, to learn cursive the same way . . . one letter at a time. It has been easy for my daughters to learn this way.

The Peterson method seems to add on a lot of extra steps that make it more complicated than it needs to be. My children felt silly learning the basic shapes. They just wanted to get right to the letters. When it came time to make the letters (using the shapes), it was odd. My 11yo managed alright. My 8yo got better with practice. I tried it out a little. I found myself more worried about the shapes than the letters. It just didn't seem natural.

I think this program would work best for someone who starts from the beginning, using the print program and working up to and through the cursive program. If a child learned to write this way from the beginning, it would seem the normal way to them. The program has many success stories and has worked out great for many families.

Mr. Rand allows you to view the entire workbook online so that you can make an informed decision about purchasing the product. Check it out here. I think that says a lot about this company.

Disclaimer: I received this handwriting program free of charge to review, as part of the TOS Homeschool Crew. The above is just my opinion. Please remember that opinions may, and do, vary.

Once available, you can read other reviews here.


  1. Great review! Stopping by on the blog walk. Have a wonderfully blessed day!

  2. This is a great review! We had a lot of the same thoughts on the product, I think. :) I am stopping by on the TOS Blogwalk to say "hello" and to start following you.