Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Review: Keyboarding for the Christian School Elementary Version

I recall 25 years ago at the tender age of 17 sitting in this huge room full of girls, and everyone tapping away very slowly at their electric typewriters. I was intimidated by those who seemed to catch on faster than myself and they seemed to stay that way the whole way through the 6 months we were together. When I was young I desired to work in the secretarial industry, and so this was the beginning place to start. Goodness I sound like I am talking about The Sound of Music. Well that is what they say in the movie “Lets start at the very beginning, it’s a very good place to start…..” I love that movie.

No what I am babbling on about is learning how to type. I had 6 months to learn how to type without looking at the letters and getting my speed up and then trying to compete with the rest of the world in getting a job.

I recently received just before Christmas an email with a PDF book attached for me to use as an Old Schoolhouse Crew Reviewer called “Keyboarding for the Christian School - Elementary Version.” I could not believe it. I have recently been praying about how to teach my son to type without the standard 2 finger stuff going on. This book must be a gift from the Lord.
I opened it up and read through it quickly not taking in any detail. On reading this through in January a second time I noticed the attention to simple detail is excellent. This book is written in simple easy to understand language for any child who has learned to read and there are only a few words that may be difficult for them to grasp.

The first focus is to learn where to hold your fingers on the keyboard, how to sit correctly in the typing chair, what letters you will find on the homerow (where your fingers are stationed.) In a sequence the lessons take you through the letters respectively and the order they need to be learned in, so that by the time the course is completed your fingers will automatically know and type the right keys. The efficiency by the end of the lessons is achieved by the constant repetition of various letters in a certain order, and it seems that by the time the student reaches writing sentences he will be not quite perfect but close to it. Touch typing is a skill that will help anyone get a little further in life especially if you are online for a large period of time each day. I see my husband struggle daily with this computer.

Once the student is ‘fluent’ in how to use the letter keys, the number and symbol keys are taught, before moving on to the number keypad. This is where my son is very weak especially when doing his online math games and worksheets as he is not fast enough on the keypad and gets frustrated. I am looking forward to the day he conquers this issue.

When I reached the part about learning to format the document by centering both horizontally and vertically, numbering lists, and the timing exercises my memory was refreshed some more on how to keep my work neat and tidy when writing documents.

There are scriptures to practice with in the centering article as well as dotted throughout the file. At the end of the lessons there is a table outlining what the approximate speeds should be for the student after a certain number of weeks on the course, as well as during the ‘test exercises.’
From watching my son work slowly through a lesson a day he is gaining confidence in his ability to use the keyboard and although I do need to remind him about where his fingers need to rest when typing he is getting the hang of it. (as long as I am not leaning over his shoulder either!!) I am enjoying seeing the change in him even as a result of this small bit of independence.

This program was sent to me as I said before as I am a member of the Old Schoolhouse Crew for doing reviews for 2009/10. I was not paid for this review but received the program complimentary.

I would recommend this being an easy to implement ‘extra’ in your homeschool or during one summer if your children are in public/private school. The program I reviewed sells for $12.95 and is for Grades K-5. There is a version for older children in Grades 6 and up called “Keyboarding for the Christian School Revised Version” priced at $15.95. There are samples available on the website that can be downloaded for you to try before you buy the program. I like that.

On doing this review tonight I noticed the author Leanne Beitel has a special offer 2010 New Year special for two e-books which includes both Keyboarding for the Christian School, Revised Edition and the Elementary Edition for only $22! That is a great deal and will cover you all the way through High School aged children if you are blessed enough to have that wide range!
The TOS Crew ladies and gentlemen have tried this product with their children who are obviously older than my one recruit so their opinions may help you decide whether this product will benefit your family and school or not. Their reviews and links are at the following:

This vendor's website is available by clicking the link below:

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Mathscore Math Review

I have not been blogging recently due to all the products I am currently reviewing. I am sorry about that as I would like to share my daily life more often but after a bout with illness during the Christmas and New Year holiday season my children are finally healthy. We have been working quite hard since starting our homeschool up again.


Mathscore ( ) is a rather intriguing website with a variety of facilities put together to help both student and parent track a child’s abilities to grasp the basics of his math education.

Upon looking at this site initially I was a little apprehensive as there were no funny gimmicks to keep my child entertained and willing to learn through this. After using the site for a few times I realized this is an advantage to someone who is distracted often by the gimmicks of online programs.

The program is basically a teacher in itself with worksheets being generated according to your child’s level or grade of math. This is determined by the parent entering the grade level upon registration. I adjusted my child’s level a few times to see what he could/could not achieve. We practiced with Grade 1, 2 and 3 levels of math.

The child chooses the topics he wishes to do a worksheet on and can review what is expected of him to do by looking at a ‘Mini Lesson’ or a ‘Sample Worksheet’ of the problems and then click on ‘Do Worksheet.’ This will then pop up a sheet of problems which the child has to complete in a certain period of time. The time per question can be adjusted by the parent in advance until your students are better at working the number keyboard. I had to do this as my son was frustrated he never got to finish the worksheet. His fingers are still trying to master the numerical keyboard.

He chose to do topics like Addition; Subtraction; Addition and Subtraction (mixed together in a worksheet); Beginning Multiplication; Missing numbers either in equation or answer; word problems; place value; greater or less than; odds or evens; money addition and subtraction (challenging for a beginner) and some graph and shape worksheets too. I think this is a wide variety for his age and I am pleased with his progress. He scored in the 70=95% range for most of his topics. He was frustrated with the graphs as they began to get more difficult and had less time to answer more complicated questions. Doesn’t life get harder as you get older? I thought this was good for him!

I received an email in my Inbox each day after my son had been working on this site and it gave me his results. I knew how long he had been on the computer and what percentage of time he had spent working on the math. They do say that at least some time is spent looking at the worksheets before the child begins to answer the questions. It is recommended your child begins with just the copying of numbers to get them accustomed with the numbers keyboard. This may have helped my son a little more perhaps but he dived right in to the worksheets.

The difficulty levels I noticed on looking through the site for the math problems range from 1-5 on lover elementary levels and then 1-10 on high school worksheet levels. I did notice that when my son gave an incorrect answer the program gave him the correct answer and explanation of how to get that answer. In my opinion that is helpful for the student to learn right away so he/she does not make that mistake next time. Another advantage of this worksheet orientated website is you do not have all the pieces of paper that are usually involved in a worksheet program lying around! I like that.

The basic cost per month has recently been lowered to $9.95 per month for the first student, 2nd student is $5.00/month, and any other students $3.95/month. This is for using on your home computer or in a homeschool situation. Payments can be made through Paypal or by Credit card automatically each month. A 9 month payment of $89.55 is also available, as well as the ability to pay $100 and earn about $45.00 worth of extra credit/time on your account. There are bonus’ to paying extra and bringing the monthly cost down.

Unfortunately at this time I am unable to afford any of these extras but perhaps may consider this program again in the future and in the higher grade levels for our son. It has boosted his morale a little knowing with practice his scores can get better over time. My son used Mathscore 2-3 days per week during the time we had to review the program.

My Crew mates at the Homeschool crew blog have experienced this program too with their families so don’t hesitate to click on over there and read their reviews too. Here is the link:

We received this program for free and have reviewed this program as part of the “Old Schoolhouse Crew.” I have not been paid for this review.