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Cross-post: typing program for an 8th grader


MercyA
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I did post this on the curriculum board first. 😉 

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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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 - 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?

Edited by forty-two
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We were using touch-type-read and spell as well, but now are using Nessy Fingers, which is much more affordable. 

But really, I think the problem is lack of consistency - it isn't something you can do now and then for a semester and pick it back up a year later. 10 minutes a day 5 days a week all year would be much much better. 

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Typing.com is free and very effective.

Put a light baby blanket or scarf over the hands and the entire keyboard during typing.  Typing.com shows transparent images of hands on the screen during the lesson to help with visualizing without looking down on the keyboard.  Do lessons daily, 5 days a week.

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1. "No blank keyboard" is a really weird hill for your DH to die on. If you think it's a better bet, I'd just overrule him on this.

2. Your real problem is lack of consistency. 15 minutes a day, five days a week, for the entire school year will be better than doing just a few weeks a year. Can you imagine teaching handwriting to that schedule? Pick a curriculum, and once she's finished with it have her do some free online typing games every day. Whatever she enjoys - or at least dislikes the least.

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Is she motivated to type? At 8th grade, you need some buy in.  

We honestly found messaging apps to be helpful.  My kids were much more motivated to chat with their friends and the practice helped pick up their speed.  It doesn't take the place of instruction, but it does speed the process along.

ETA: If she is dyspraxic (I forgot to ask), I would actually be having her out bouncing a basketball more than I would be trying to get her to type for the next month.  Do right hand only bounce, left hand only bounce, then right/left/right bouncing.  Typing is weird because it really draws on brain to hand connection, and you are switching between hands a lot to do it.  If she doesn't have really strong synapses firing in her brain, it just slows the whole process down.  Basketball offers more body feedback than typing.  Any sort of gym exercises that works on right/left coordination will also help---old school aerobics that uses a step board, exercises like dead bug (core) where you alternative right leg/left leg etc., all of that will help build connection.

Edited by prairiewindmomma
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Is she typing any of her schoolwork? It's not likely to stick unless she's using it was well as practicing it. 

What do you mean when you say she hasn't gotten it? How slowly does she type? Lots of people type fairly slowly and look at the keyboard. Most people get faster when they have to type a lot on a regular basis. I would make sure my expectations were realistic, because this seems like a lot of time and effort to put into typing. 

 

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13 hours ago, katilac said:

Is she typing any of her schoolwork? It's not likely to stick unless she's using it was well as practicing it. 

What do you mean when you say she hasn't gotten it? How slowly does she type? Lots of people type fairly slowly and look at the keyboard. Most people get faster when they have to type a lot on a regular basis. I would make sure my expectations were realistic, because this seems like a lot of time and effort to put into typing. 

 

I agree. Soon enough everything she does will include typing, from schoolwork (assuming she isn’t already?) to pretty much all interaction with friends, teachers, jobs, etc. Texting, social media, email…I’m having trouble imagining a pre/teen not already attached to her phone or laptop, but it will happen soon enough. Then you’ll wonder how to get her to stop! Lol 

Edited by MEmama
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