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Favorite typing program for an 8th grader


MercyA
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My sweet DD does very well in school but for whatever reason typing success has eluded us. We used Dance Mat Typing starting in 4th grade and have done Mavis Beacon Keyboarding Kidz for the last three years but she still hasn't gotten it. We don't generally do typing all school year long. Usually it's a one-semester thing a few times a week.

A lot of the problem, I think, is that she's just looked at the keys too much. ☺️  DH said no blank keyboard; she needs to just learn to keep her eyes on the screen.

Fun programs are a plus. Simplicity is a plus. There has to be a miracle program out there. 😉 

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I would use typing (dot) com & either get a silicone keyboard cover or cut one wall off of a cereal box to place over her hands when she types. The lessons start off with the keyboard & finger positions displayed on the screen, so she won’t be thrown straight into the deep end. Once she’s gotten it down the cover can be removed, but the habit needs to be broken first.

Once she’s gone through the exercises there, you’ll want to incorporate typing into her daily routine. Pick something - a book log, a journal, writing assignments, history / science narrations - to her type consistently. The skill won’t stick if it isn’t used.  

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Commenting only on the "fun program" part, not on the "looking at the keyboard" part of your post.   I'm having the same problem with my DS, new 6th grader, not much typing skill progress despite grade, but we don't stick to programs very well in the past.  We've started "Typesy"  this school year.  It's paid, they make you buy a few licenses for homeschool, so I'm doing the lessons on my account as well: My son responds to competition.  Lots of lessons, points system, lots of games that you unlock by earning points.  The system tells you your typing and accuracy speed all the time.  I myself sometimes skip through the little "Use your homerow keys" cutesy videos, but my son watches them, which is the main thing....   

It also has lots of built in courses for Common Core grade level words, which I plan to use to improve his spelling. (His spelling really needs improvement.)  Parent-administration account also has lots of reporting, which is mainly what I wanted, to make sure we keep doing it every day, and to map improvement..... we somehow stop using a free typing program way too quickly....  Anyways, just throwing it out there.

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Responded in your other thread, but reposting because the discussion's here:

 

We did Touch Type Read and Spell.  It's pricey, even through HSBC, and it took the girls two years to get through (4th-5th for middle; 7th-8th for oldest) - they each restarted the program after hitting a wall - but it worked and they can type effectively.  I don't know that it's fun, exactly, but it wasn't *un*fun - the girls never minded doing it except when they were having difficulties (which we solved by starting over).  It is very simple - it's 24 levels with 30 modules per level (or something very close to that), each module taking about 5min or so.  I had the girls do 3 modules a day, four days a week (and we continued over summer) - they could be new or repeats - and we continued on until we were done (a little over 1.5yrs for oldest, nearly 2yrs for middle).  It focuses more on accuracy than speed, which I thought was good - no temptation to sacrifice accuracy to hit speed targets; in fact, there are only accuracy targets, no speed targets at all.  (And my girls both freeze up very badly when timed for stuff like that.)

I chose it because it's OG-based, and good for kids with dyslexia; I figured they could use the slow, steady approach to typing as well as another pass through spelling.  Oldest dd hit a wall very early in the program - in Level 1 or 2 - something about typing was hard for her (not a surprise and why I went to the expensive big gun program first).  But after a restart, something clicked and she, maybe not *sailed*, but plodded steadily through the rest of the program.  Middle dd initially did better than oldest - she didn't run into difficulties until around module 5 or 6; it was rough going for a while because she refused to start over - insisted on trying to keep going even through it was driving her to tears - but she eventually listened to me and gave the restart a try, and she was successful from there on.  (It took awhile for her to accept that the goal of the program is to learn to type, not merely finish the program - that she wasn't failing to start over, because there'd be no point to finishing if she still couldn't type at the end.) They both write on the computer frequently and effectively, so I'm pretty pleased.  I reminded them frequently about looking at the screen and not the keyboard, but I didn't police it.

~*~

What kind of problems is she having?  What does "not getting it" look like?  And does she find the programs themselves hard, or the programs are easy enough but it just isn't transferring?

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https://www.typingclub.com It's been a big help, the "miracle" find for us after a few tries. It starts out slow, and there are tons and tons of lessons, so unless you are typing for hours a day you aren't going to run out any time soon. And you can go back and challenger yourself to get more stars, faster speed, etc. And it's free!

If your DH is against a blank keyboard and you want them to look at the screen more: a box top from a large paper ream box, cut out one of the lone sides, and it will sit over their hands and keyboard. It's a sturdy contraction cardboard so will hold up to a lot of use. You don't have to use all the time, but we did at the beginning. You can go to a paper supply store (like, Kelly Paper or probably even Office Depot) and just ask for a box top from a paper box (11x17 will work, 12x18 is better). 

edit because I got the website name wrong lol

edit again: for the boys we do/did typing grades 1-5 for 20 minutes every day. Our daughter (now 12) didn't start typing until she was 8 (no computer for her to learn on until then). In about 2 years she went from nothing to 80wpm and 97% accuracy. Last year she only typed sporadically, I took if off her schedule since she was doing well. She requested it to be added back to her schedule this year because she enjoys it, so I have her do 20 minutes x 2 times a week, she is redoing the harder levels and just trying to beat her best times. 

Edited by Moonhawk
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On 8/28/2021 at 1:13 PM, forty-two said:

What kind of problems is she having?  What does "not getting it" look like?  And does she find the programs themselves hard, or the programs are easy enough but it just isn't transferring?

She is still looking at the keyboard some (quite a bit?) when she types. She goes through the lessons but then still doesn't feel like she can easily touch-type outside of the program. She can type some if she tries but it takes her a long time and some looking at the keys. I don't think the programs were too hard but she didn't enjoy them in spite of the games and was frustrated with her lack of progress. Probably some of that is just not practicing often enough, but we like to be done with school by a certain time and therefore I feel like I can't / don't want to schedule it daily.

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The best thing that helped my kids increase typing speed was a huge reward / privilege that went into effect as soon as they could type 40wpm. 😉

Mine went through a couple of $$ programs, and then finally just wanted the reward enough to use typing (dot) com to get up to speed.

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49 minutes ago, MercyA said:

She is still looking at the keyboard some (quite a bit?) when she types. She goes through the lessons but then still doesn't feel like she can easily touch-type outside of the program. She can type some if she tries but it takes her a long time and some looking at the keys. I don't think the programs were too hard but she didn't enjoy them in spite of the games and was frustrated with her lack of progress. Probably some of that is just not practicing often enough, but we like to be done with school by a certain time and therefore I feel like I can't / don't want to schedule it daily.

WRT looking, I like a pp's suggestion of using a paper box lid to cover her hands/keyboard.  Also, fwiw, I was a computer engineering major - so quite a bit of typing - and *I* look at the keys some when I type and it doesn't slow me down much (although I can do true touch typing when I need to, which it sounds like your dd can't); aka, in some cases I think effective typing can coexist with looking at keys, although it sounds like your dd doesn't feel like she can type effectively.

WRT games and lack of progress, two thoughts.  One, maybe she'd just as soon have a "boring" but effective program that doesn't try to be fun instead of a program that tries to be fun but fails.  Two, what do the games have her do?  I mean, is she practicing typing words and sentences, or do the games have her practicing random sequences of letters?  AKA, does the practice the program have her do match what she would actually be typing IRL? Or not?  (In TTRS, everything past Level 1 is practicing words and sentences, which I do think is very helpful.)

WRT not wanting to take the time to do it daily, I do agree with pp that small chunks of daily practice would be a lot more effective than irregular chunks of larger practice.  Even 5min daily would add up a lot over time, without taking up much time in your day. 

 

I am wondering if she doesn't need a program to *learn* how to type so much as she just needs lots and lots of practice to make what she has learned automatic.  In which case, maybe daily typing dictation would do the job.  Use that paper box top, cover her hands, and have her type from a book or a piece of paper or from your dictation for five minutes - whatever she can do in that time.  And do it every day.  If she knows where all the keys are and which finger to use when she thinks about it, then all she needs is sufficient practice at real-world typing till it gets automatic.  (TTRS has "dictation" lessons every five modules or so, where you write from what you hear instead of what you see - so you have to be able to visualize what you are typing, just like how in regular dictation you have to visualize what you are handwriting.  Just like dictation's harder than copywork for handwriting, it's probably harder in typing, too.  So it might be worth practicing having her type from your dictation.)

Also, how's her spelling?  I know my middle dd hit her wall in typing when she hit words she had problems spelling.

 

And a random thought: Does your dd have long nails?  One thing I've noticed is that the longer my nails get, the harder it is for me to type - it feels like I'm not hitting the keys right or like I'm going to hit other keys - and as a result I look way more often and the whole process just feels uncomfortable.  I'd been delaying trimming my nails, and really noticed the issues in typing yesterday; and today, after I trimmed them, I find I can type much, much better.

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23 hours ago, forty-two said:

WRT games and lack of progress, two thoughts.  One, maybe she'd just as soon have a "boring" but effective program that doesn't try to be fun instead of a program that tries to be fun but fails. 

That might be true!

Two, what do the games have her do?  I mean, is she practicing typing words and sentences, or do the games have her practicing random sequences of letters?  AKA, does the practice the program have her do match what she would actually be typing IRL? Or not? 

They have her typing words and sentences.

WRT not wanting to take the time to do it daily, I do agree with pp that small chunks of daily practice would be a lot more effective than irregular chunks of larger practice.  Even 5min daily would add up a lot over time, without taking up much time in your day. 

I'm sure you're right! We just need to make it a priority.

I am wondering if she doesn't need a program to *learn* how to type so much as she just needs lots and lots of practice to make what she has learned automatic.  In which case, maybe daily typing dictation would do the job.  Use that paper box top, cover her hands, and have her type from a book or a piece of paper or from your dictation for five minutes - whatever she can do in that time.  And do it every day.  If she knows where all the keys are and which finger to use when she thinks about it, then all she needs is sufficient practice at real-world typing till it gets automatic.  

These are great ideas! I keep thinking back to my typing class in high school (on actual typewriters!!) and my teacher reciting things for us to type. It was super helpful.

Also, how's her spelling?  

She spells well.

And a random thought: Does your dd have long nails?  One thing I've noticed is that the longer my nails get, the harder it is for me to type - it feels like I'm not hitting the keys right or like I'm going to hit other keys - and as a result I look way more often and the whole process just feels uncomfortable.  I'd been delaying trimming my nails, and really noticed the issues in typing yesterday; and today, after I trimmed them, I find I can type much, much better.

I've found that I personally hate typing with longer nails, but I hadn't thought about this for her, thanks! She did have long nails last school year but this year she has to keep them trimmed short so she can take her contacts in and out. Hopefully it will help.

Thanks again to you and everyone for the great suggestions! They are so helpful.

 

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