Thursday, January 21, 2010

Review: Christian Keyboarding

My boys have all acted like they are allergic to pencils, so a writing program has been really difficult.  One bit of advice I always hear is to teach them to type.  So I have worked at that.  We've used computer programs meant for kids, computer programs meant for adults, internet based typing games, internet based "no frills" types of programs... yet my guys still manage to type incredibly slowly, and not without having to look at least sometimes.  At least they can more or less find the keys, but it is only a step above hunt and peck.

So, when I received two ebooks from Christian Keyboarding, I was initially hopeful, and then worried.  The books look so BORING... and the initial lessons look like things I did in my high school typing class (which I detested).  Yet, I did learn to type.  And quite well, actually.  Back in the day, I could sometimes manage to break 100 words per minute (though my usual average was more like 90).  Wish I could still pull that off.

So, it was with a bit of trepidation that I brought this typing course out for my students.  No frills isn't necessarily a huge hit here.  The results?  Well, read on...

I started Connor with Keyboarding for the Christian School (meant for junior high and older).  The first 20 lessons are about learning the alphabetic keys, and we are still in the middle of that.  Lesson one has them typing such exciting things as:

jjj fff jjj fff

I expected a total revolt.  What I got?  After about 8 minutes of work -- "That's all I have to do today?  Hey, I like this!"  Probing a bit, after a few days of lessons, what Connor is loving about this course is that the lessons have a clear goal.  He knows exactly what he has to do in order to be "done" with his typing lesson.  In all the computer based, and most of the internet-based, programs we have used before, you just keep doing the next thing, but there is no sense of completing something, really.  No stopping point.

And it doesn't stay quite so basic, obviously.  Essentially, you learn 2 letters per lesson, and after five lessons you review.  The first couple of reviews (lessons 6 and 12) has them still mostly typing letter patterns, but there are a few words.  In lesson 18, they start off by typing:

This is the day that the Lord has made.  Let us rejoice and be glad in it.

After getting through the alphabetic keys (and basic punctuation), there are five lessons on the number & symbol keys.  There are four lessons on using a number pad.  And the next dozen or so lessons get into a lot of great concepts... centering, lists, tabs, and a bunch of stuff for writing reports and letters.  This last part looks amazing.

So, Connor has a new typing plan.  He is going to work through Keyboarding for the Christian School, and then he can go back to using a computer program to work on building up his speed.  But he will solidly know the keyboard first.

I also started William (5th grade) and Thomas (3rd grade) with the Elementary version.  This is similar in basic content... 20 lessons on alphabetic keys, 5 lessons on numbers and symbols, 4 lessons on the number pad, and then just a couple more lessons (centering, enumerated lists, timed writings).  But the lessons themselves contain a bit more in explanation. And that adorable ladybug.

Here is where I got totally different reactions.  Thomas hated it.  He's frustrated, he can't tell if he is doing what he is supposed to or not.  He begged me to go back to a computerized typing program.  After giving it a couple of days, I agreed.  And the thing is, he is probably my best typist.  The instant feedback and the typing games are a great fit for him.  I don't know if he is just too young for this, or if it is totally a learning style thing.

William, while he certainly doesn't love it, reacted a lot more like Connor.  He likes knowing where 'the end' is.  He still wants to go play little typing games, but he sees that he is learning from this without spending tons of time.

William will continue to work through the Elementary book.  When he completes it, we'll practice with a computer program.  And in another year or two, he'll work through the regular version of the Christian Keyboarding program (maybe starting with the later lessons, maybe not).

Thomas?  Well, I've let him drop this.  It's nice to have it available down the road, but for now, this isn't something I'm going to make him do.

My opinions?  I love the Bible verses.  I love that this is fairly inexpensive.  You can purchase both ebooks for $22 -- and through February 28, there is a coupon code for $5 off (NewYear5), making it an even better deal.  The books are also available individually, and there are other products available also.

And you can check out what my fellow crewmates have to say about Christian Keyboarding at:

Any questions? I'd love to know what you would want to know in deciding whether or not this is something you want to purchase.

Disclaimer:  As part of the TOS Homeschool Review Crew, I did receive two ebooks from Christian Keyboarding for free.  The fact that I received a complimentary product does not guarantee a favorable review.  It does guarantee a review. A fair review. But I am not going to praise something unless I think it deserves the praise.  If I don't like it, you'll hear that.  And hopefully with enough detail as to why so you can decide for yourself if what I hate about it makes it perfect for your family.  For more about my take on reviews, visit my blog post here.

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Nikki said...

It sounds to me like you and I both had the same initial reaction to this product! Aren't you glad we gave it a try? I am!

Sheri said...

well I missed that code thing-shows ya how busy I have been. Thanks for noting that and we love the program too-not all jazzy but my son asks to do it! Love that! Take care-Sheri

Debra said...

Nikki -- you are right -- we did seem to react the same :)

Sheri -- I missed the code too, but I messed up a link and had to go back to the website to redo it... and voila! there it was. Figured I ought to include it. I always tell people that I do try to save them money when I'm busy costing them money...