I remember 2nd grade very well. It was a challenging year for me as I had a teacher who demanded excellence and relentlessly expected nothing less. For the first time in my life learning was a bit of a chore as I was introduced to the concept of homework to keep up with academic demands. I couldn't print well to save my life and I remember many tears as I practiced and practiced letters trying to print legibly. I finally conquered printing only to return to school after Christmas break to discover that it was time for the evil "cursive writing".
When I look back at those second grade memories I am grateful for the lessons they taught me but also struck by the changes technology has brought to the lives of children. No longer is it enough to have solid penmanship. Personal computers, use of the internet, even texting on phones require children to grasp the concept of keyboarding in order to keep up with our fast paced technology based world.
Keyboarding for the Christian School is a low budget solution to technology education in the home. Delivered to your home computer in e-book format, this course eliminates all the bells and whistles of computer driven or on-line courses yet manages to provide the necessary instruction to teach children, grades K-12, keyboarding skills. Author Leanne Beitel states on her website, http://www.christiankeyboarding.com/, “Keyboarding for the Christian School can be used along with a software-based program or online program to further enhance your students learning. Most of these programs are great for graphical use, but fall short of actual teaching in word processing skills”
Beitel, who holds her Masters in Instruction from Texas A & M University, noticed a need for Christian based material for computer courses during her time teaching in the private school sector. After researching for just such a curriculum and finding none she developed Keyboarding for the Christian School to meet State educational requirements and Biblical content desired by the private Christian school.
Beitel advises on her website that typing courses in e-book format actually benefit students versus the typical computer generated versions. “Think about the things you type. Are they readily available to copy from the screen or are they something that you are looking at on a piece of paper? Usually you are typing something from a rough draft. If the lessons are only available on the computer monitor; your student will not get the needed skill of transferring information from paper to the computer. A printable e-book allows you the preference of binding the whole book or just giving your student one page at a time. A printable e-book is portable and economical,” she says.
Keyboarding for the Christian School retails on Beitel’s website for $15.95. This 106-page e-book is:
* Designed for grades 6 and up
In addition the curriculum promises:
*Traditional typing drills
*Letters and Envelopes instruction
*APA and MLA reports
*A Biblical Perspective
Keyboarding for the Christian School Elementary Version, designed for grades K-5, is available for $12.95, also in e-book format. This scaled down version of Keyboarding for Christian Schools teaches the basics of the keyboard while using a cute ladybug theme throughout.
Our family received both Keyboarding for Christian Schools and Keyboarding for the Christian School Elementary Version for free in exchange for this review. Since I have students in both age categories we decided to spend a few weeks testing the curriculum to see if it really is easy to use and effective.
I have a problem with e-books to be honest. I prefer not be my own publisher spending hours printing books, collating pages, and then binding them in some effective manner. I love the accessibility of e-books and the speed they are delivered to your inbox, but overall I am not a fan. That being said our family probably would have missed out on this delightful, extremely inexpensive homeschool resource had it not been offered to us for review.
I avoided the whole printing issue by keeping the courses on my computer. They arrived in PDF format by email, which I organized in a special file in Outlook. When my students needed to work on their keyboarding lessons they simply found the email, opened up the PDF and proceeded. Because I have a laptop MAC and a desktop PC I didn’t want to create a Word document on my desktop thus tying us down to home use only. Remembering the accessibility of Google Docs we created two separate Word documents on-line, one for each student, and were ready to begin our lessons.
At first we simply flipped back and forth from screen to screen, but quickly this method became tiresome. I determined my students were not getting the benefit of “ease of use” the product offered because of my stubbornness not to print and began cutting and pasting the instructions into each student’s Word document. I admit this method deters from the goal of teaching students to transfer information from paper to computer, but it worked for the busy and often multi-locations of our homeschool.
I sat beside my 2nd grade daughter, Sierra as she worked through the first 4 lessons of Keyboarding for the Christian School Elementary Version. I thought having the lesson begin with a Bible verse was a nice focus. The short lessons contained simple and straightforward directions. Sierra easily conquered each lesson in about 10 minutes with occasional directives from me like reminders to check finger placement. Although my constant presence would not be needed on a completely computer driven course, I found this simple basic format refreshing for my younger student. Ten years ago I would never had considered keyboarding skills a necessary element of a 2nd graders education, but today is a different story. I am glad to have found an inexpensive, user friendly product which addresses this need while remaining age appropriate to an 8 year old.
"I liked it. I like how you get to type on the computer", said Sierra. "The lesson on the computer can tell you what to do for directions so you won't forget. Learning to type makes me feel like I’m a big kid. I’m excited I am learning to type so I can type when I move on to older grades.”
My older student, Micah, a 7th grader, completed all of her lessons on her own. She reminded me that she had some typing experience by working a few years ago with a computer-based typing program and an online game. Still being able to benefit from instruction Micah used Keyboarding for the Christian School and easily worked through two lessons a day taking about 5-10 mins. each to complete. To date, she has worked through 11 of the 43 lessons.
“I think it’s a really easy to understand course. I am learning everything very easily. This makes it fun for me to complete. I really like the words at the end of each lesson, which makes me feel, like I’m actually typing something, not just letters. One thing that is a little bit of a negative is that the course can’t grade you. I guess if you have a teacher then they can check your work, but you have to wait for them and can’t find out right away”, commented Micah.
Keyboarding for the Christian School is one of many courses offered on the company website. Other courses include:
*Columns 2003 or Columns 2007 (using Microsoft Word) for $3.95 each
*Creating Tables: Tables 2003 or Tables 2007 for $5.95 each
*Teacher’s Tools for $14.95
*Lesson Plans (for Keyboarding for the Christian School) for $9.95
The company is currently offering a 2010 New Year’s Special when purchasing Keyboarding for the Christian School (revised edition) and Keyboarding for the Elementary School. The package is selling for $22.00! Check the website for details.