Bottom line: Write-On Handwriting is more than just an app. With both digital and paper workbooks, this app provides another way to practice the same methodology. To be a Top Pick, though, it needs better reinforcement to get kids to practice without a parent's heavy hand.
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Write-On Handwriting, by the developer of the same name, is not a new program — the paper and digital workbooks have been around for several years, and follow a well-thought-out methodology. According to the developer's website, Write-On Handwriting helps to teach the motor movements necessary to write with a multi-sensory approach.
This philosophy was evident in the app. Instead of learning the letters in alphabetical order, the letters are grouped by how they are formed. Each letter is learned following a particular sequence: first listen to auditory prompts (“Start at the midline. Curve left”). Visual prompts accompany the auditory instructions, with the letter traced in bright colors, followed by arrows pointing the direction. Finally, the user is invited to try.
There are plenty of other great features about the app:
- All letters (uppercase and lowercase), along with numbers, are taught following the same method.
- The letters are learned in the groups of 2-5 first before practice. Each letter is then practiced 3-5 times before moving on.
- The user can choose to work on a particular letter instead of following the sequence.
- The letter formation directions are accurate. This may not seem necessary to mention, but it is not the case in all handwriting apps.
- It works equally well with a stylus or a finger.
In fact, there is very little to complain about with Write-On Handwriting. I did wish for the option to turn off sound effects — the cheering with stars after every correct letter got old, but the volume needed to stay up in order to hear the auditory prompts for letter formation.
The reinforcement in general is the weak link in this app, and the only thing keeping it from being a top pick. I happen to be the mother of a 9-year-old boy with absolutely horrible handwriting. I think he would benefit from the app’s auditory and visual cues to work on letter formation, but he is long past the age when a smiley face or a spray of stars with canned cheering could be considered motivating.
In fact, the only age for whom that is motivating, in my experience, probably isn’t quite ready, developmentally speaking, to learn to write letters. The app would be even stronger with the option to turn off the reinforcement. But even better, the developer should find new ways of reinforcing a job well done and motivating kids to do more.
The other handwriting apps that have stuck around in my house are LetterSchool (not so motivating to the 9-year-old, but the 6-year-old loves it), and Touch and Write, with a plethora of writing materials and backgrounds (after all, who doesn’t want to write with ketchup?) The rewards don’t have to be Minecraft-worthy to make it just a little more appealing.
I was unable to figure out from the website what style of handwriting this system uses. It appears to be unique to Write-On Handwriting but most similar to Zaner-Bloser. If your child will learn a different style that is significantly different (such as D'Nealian), check with a teacher before downloading this app.
Still, for an app to use in school or with parent direction, Write-On Handwriting is a very solid choice. Children might not choose to play it during free time, but parents who want to be assured that children are learning the correct formations in a multi-sensory way can probably find a way to get them to practice.
Heather H. was glad to find out after using this app that she learned correct letter formation in grade school. Another win for teachers! Write-On Handwriting is an advertiser at SmartAppsForKids.com.