StartWrite - Do It Yourself Handwriting Worksheets
(League City, Tx)
Product: StartWrite 5.0 software
Levels Used: K & 4th grade
Dates Used: August 2009 - now & future
Likes: Does cursive (several styles), manuscript (several versions, Getty-Dubay Italic (Basic & Cursive), Handwriting without Tears and several others. Can do in many point sizes from as small as 8pt to as large as 192pt. Can add or remove baselines, midlines, ascender & descender lines, arrows to guide the pen, dotted letters from heavily dotted to barely there, and options like having the first letter of each line solid & rest dotted. Plus clip art for each letter (apples for 'a', etc., and a series of lessons for each letter (just change the font to your liking!).
In the past, my daughter complained about switching to italic cursive from italic print. She said the exercises were boring & she didn't understand why you could only use certain 'joins' w/certain letters or why other letters could not be joined at all. Too many changes for her liking - adding serifs & joins but only using certain joins with certain letters, etc.
I can now rearrange Getty-Dubay's italic cursive lessons to suit my taste. (I use my Getty-Dubay instruction manual to make sure I'm using the right size, letter families, etc.) My worksheets have notes for her at the top and funny words or sentences for practicing the assignment. I focus on one 'join' at a time. I keep the notes short & to the point so she'll remember them. She seems to understand better now & enjoys the funny sentences I make. Her handwriting has improved.
I can make Getty-Dubay cursive Italic worksheets for my kindergardener. Getty-Dubay only has basic Italic (print) workbooks for the younger set. With StartWrite 5.0, that's not a problem. I want him to start with cursive Italic (unjoined) so he won't have to switch like his older sister and have trouble. I've since heard that starting cursive is better for several reasons: easier if no switch involved; brain sees 'whole' letters, not ball & stick pieces, so it's better for challenged students as well.
Dislikes: You can not add a start dot for the letters in cursive (at least, I couldn't get it to work). The little box for start dots is 'on' for manuscript versions, but switch to cursive and it 'grays out' & is unavailable. No Barchowsky's Fluent Handwriting fonts (but then, Barchowsky sells its own program for more than StartWrite!).
There are some bugs in the program, I think. I used one of the art shapes to put a gray circle on my page & shrunk it for a start point. On some pages, that worked fine. On others, after moving & manipulating, the circles acted funny. They would not stay where I put them. Also, for whatever reason, there's a lot of white space under the baseline - more than what you need for descenders and good spacing. That means less worklines per page.
If you try to put another line on top of it to make better use of the area, the whitespace seems to come to the top & cover your letters (though I need to go back & try to print to see if it's a permanent effect or just another 'bug' in the program.