StartDOT Handwriting, by TrishCO LLC, is a beautifully crafted app. I am finding more and more that really outstanding apps are going by, under the radar. A quick pouf at their launch and then they somewhat disappear. Finding one is like discovering buried treasure. StartDOT Handwriting is like discovering a field of emeralds on a forest path. It was created by an OT who has thoroughly thought out how to teach handwriting in terms of using a multisensory approach. By giving meaning and a storyline (auditory and visual) to letter formation (motor), as well as grouping letters kinesthetically, she has created something that insures success for young learners struggling with letter formation.
Huh? What exactly is a kinesthetic approach and why would someone want to teach handwriting this way? A Kinesthetic learning approach to handwriting helps children learn by building on their emerging skills by grouping like letters together. This way, the brain and body “know” a bit about the next letter and how it is made. The ability to build and generalize the next letter is then easier. It is somewhat like learning to throw a ball… once you have the dynamics down, you can throw a beach ball, playground ball, basketball, etc. Each may be a little different, but you don’t have to learn the whole sequence again. Uppercase, lower case, and numbers are all grouped according to basic stroke formation and progress to harder ones. You have the option in settings to work in alphabetical order, and select certain letters that your student may be struggling with making.
Let’s take a look at the presentation. On the opening page for a letter, you are given an overview of the letter’s formation in a story, then practice with a given starting point and pathway to trace inside. You then progress to no pathway, but still have a starting point and the story markers on lined blocks. Finally, you are presented with the lined block with a starting point. Starting points are key for correct letter formation, as many kids with low tone, motor planning or visual motor difficulties do not start from a consistent place and often times that inconsistency is a road block to retaining how to make the letters. Once maladaptive patterns are set, they are extremely hard to break.
I love how a child is given a choice of colors and is able to go over previous attempts – not only showing progression and control, but making it fun. The lower case “r” is just pure joy… the instructions are to have “Joey” jump down on the trampoline, bounce back up, and then go find Mom.
The little icon in the upper corner gives you extra practice on any letter. You can choose either to use the visually cued paper of sky, grass and dirt, or the more traditional white lined paper. I just love the visually enhanced paper, as it really gives beginning writers a reference point for their marks. So many beginning writers struggle with lower case letter placement, and “dig on down to the dirt” for that lower case “g” is sure to get some giggles and increased compliance.
- Extensively refined approach to handwriting that can be used as a stand-alone curriculum or in conjunction with another
- Multisensory/Kinesthetic approach to insure success and carryover
- Can be used with multiple children
- Reinforcing and insures success
- Promotes Independence and competency
- Excellent for data collection
- Website support and available downloads for real time activities
About the Author
Jo Booth has been an Occupational Therapist for over 30 years, and currently works in Pediatrics with early intervention. She sees kids newly diagnosed on the spectrum as well as medically fragile kids. She loves to move, explore and play everyday; so that “her kids” grow up to be healthy independent learners.