The Old Schoolhouse® Product & Curriculum Reviews

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Keyboard Classroom Review by Amber Smith

If there is one skill every homeschool student needs to master, it is the skill of touch typing. Some members of my family have been using Keyboard Classroom to improve our skills and the results I am seeing are encouraging.

How can we help our kids, or ourselves, get ready for the world of communication? We can make sure that they can type by touch. Keyboard Classroom was created to train anyone to type by touch in just 15 minutes a day over one semester.

I downloaded the program on our school PC (it was not available for my Mac) and could start as soon as the computer restarted. We had a single account to use, but Keyboard Classroom gives the ability to have up to five students taking the course at the same time.

Keyboard Classroom was created to help every student be successful. Long lessons are not the way to a young learner’s heart. Most lessons take less time than it takes me to get a coffee refill. This makes this program a great choice for kids with learning disabilities. The creators designed Keyboard classroom for students with Dyslexia, Dysgraphia, ADD/ADHD, Asperger Syndrome, and other forms of Autism. The method is backed by 20 years of research.

This is good for little learners and those students who are struggling alike. Keyboard Classroom is designed for any student to see improvements. The one-minute fluency exercises are a great way for students with limited attention spans to use the program, but they are also a great way to get practice in when you are crunched for time. These short lesson times make Keyboarding Classroom a great program to use for a transition time in your homeschool day. You get all the physical benefits typing can give you, and your students in less than 15 minutes a day.

I have a few kids who like to “get done.” They plough through whole workbook lessons without reading instructions, only to be frustrated when they must go back and re-do the work. Keyboard Classroom is set up to help your students build mastery. They can’t skip around, get lost, or jump over lessons. The students practice the lesson until they feel like they are ready to be assessed. Then, they choose Time Me from the menu, and type the highlighted words. The program then calculates the score for the exercise to see if they have met the goal to move forward to the next lesson. They move into the next skill only when they have mastered the first.

The lessons are set in a specific order to help growth and development without causing frustration. First, Finger Trainer teaches how to usethe home row. Then, you begin Typing Words within the home row lettersbuilding familiarity. Home Stretch is where you will begin using three letter combinations that move you into the top and bottom rows and returning to the home row again. Only when you have mastered these steps can you move into Typing Sentences. The last series of lessons, Capital Stretch, teaches proper use of the shift key.Did you know that when capitalizing you are to press the shift key with the hand that will not be pressing the letter? I am a right pinky presser only. I still have a lot to learn.

This program is very good at laying a solid foundation to work from. I loved that instead of huge lines of type there are smaller individual boxes. This helped us feel like the lessons were moving quickly. It also helped when someone made a mistake. Instead of the whole exercise being marred with errors, only a couple of boxes contained mistakes. This is great for students who are easily frustrated with incorrect answers.

There is a reward component as well. As lessons are completed the student earns tokens which they can use to play games within the program. What kid does not love a prize, or if they are like mine, love to accrue a mass of coins. The games do need online access to be played.

Keyboard Classroom strongly emphasizes the “home position” on the keyboard. To that end they developed unique finger guides to help little hands stay where they need to be. I did not use these and they are not required, but I could see where they could help keep a student from learning bad habits and feel more confident by knowing that their hands are always in the correct starting position.

-Product review by Amber Smith, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, December 2018