Being able to type, accurately and quickly, is an important skill for our kids to learn nowadays. My husband was especially pleased to see that we were given the chance to review UltraKey Online Family Subscription from Bytes of Learning. Because this is something he has been very serious about our children learning.
I admit to being rather surprised by how involved this program really is. I have never been a fan of typing; I still peck at the keys with two or three fingers most of the time. Not good right? While this is technically an online typing program, it is also a lesson in posture, finger positioning and more! There are twelve lessons in all, taught with animated video, recommended for ages 8 all the way to a “little old lady” says my daughter. For this review we received a one year family subscription.
I actually set up an account for myself as well as my oldest son, on this program. Truth be told, I know this is something I really need to improve upon. As a home educating momma who also works at home, I imagine the time I could save, if I could type properly. And fewer mistakes being made is always a wonderful thing . There is nothing that drives me batty more than completing an email or a service announcement to then realize all the corrections I need to make before it is really complete.
Since my oldest son is a speech/debate kind of boy, it was encouraging to him to hear in one of the videos that the value of typing well “communicates your idea or thought to others.” A great way to look at it. When we cannot speak face to face, typing is another way to share things we want to share with others. And don’t we want to do that as best as we possibly can? Nothing worse than an email that you have to work to decipher!
This is a self paced program meant to be used for twenty minutes per day; offered with 3 user, 5 user or 8 user options, this is a great tool for any family and for any age! There are numerous challenges and practices available for use as you go from learning the letters, to words and then sentences. But before you begin you must complete the lessons on posture and finger placement. These are not long but did they ever show me (and my son) how terrible our typing form really is! Each lesson introduces between three to four keystrokes; there is a warm up that comes before each one. Get those fingers warmed up and ready to work! What is really fun is that they even have stretches built into the lessons. Type for a time, take a break, get up and stretch, then come back and work a bit more. A wonderful bit to any program for boys that cannot sit still for long! And the audio that goes along with each lesson is so upbeat and encouraging! It makes even the “worst” lesson enjoyable.
Once we completed the videos (my son especially enjoyed their posture puzzle) we moved on. We began with an assessment that made sure we started out right where we needed to be. Once we were ready to get started, for fun, we got our goals set up (you can determine your own – we let the program set the goals for us for now). For each lesson there is a record kept of the progress made; this includes speed and accuracy. My oldest son is all about speed; I on the other hand am all about accuracy right now. 🙂 Complete the lesson and then go to Spell Check; here you can see how you are achieving your goals. You can choose length or time. Any trouble? Here comes extra practice – this is all about improving how we type. As you get better, see how well you progress as well, by hiding your typing. Sounds scary to me! Ha-ha
This is such an amazing program. I never liked typing, nor did my oldest son, but this has really made things much more enjoyable for us. Since each account is completely customizable my son spent quite a bit of time choosing a background screen, colors, the voice he wanted to hear as he worked, even the colors.
He also really enjoyed the Game Zone (a great way to motivate when someone doesn’t want to do their lesson for the day) where there are lots of fun activities to reinforce what is being learned. There is also a Typing forum where you can take typing tests or just practice typing freely. There is a record of the details kept for each test you take; a nice way to see how and if we are progressing. So you can see those good habits and those habits that are not so good. This program is encouraging; so many wise reminders to simply “keep at it”.
While I admit this was not something I was super excited about in the beginning, I have to admit I have found this to be a fabulous tool, not just for my son, but myself as well. In fact throughout the time we have been using this my younger son (he is eight) has been watching and has recently requested that he “Have a turn” at typing. We will definitely be continuing to use this for the time we are able (although it truly is quite affordable if we should want to continue beyond the subscription we were given). I definitely recommend checking them out if you are in need of something to help encourage and better the typing skills of you or your children.
BYTES OF LEARNING