We were given a one-year subscription to The Typing Coach Online Typing Course from The Typing Coach in exchange for this review. It was perfect timing, since a couple of my girls somehow slipped through the cracks when it came to learning to type. Bingo!
What you should know about us:
Two of our girls, Elisabeth and Emily, are not stellar typers. (That’s my nice, not-embarassing way of saying…well…that they’re not stellar typers.) It’s our own fault, really, since they don’t have much computer time. You can’t learn to type by reading a book or writing your assignments in a notebook. That’s all you need to know about us!
Oh, and don’t forget that we travel full-time, so if you hear me whining about shelf space and internet connection, it’s because there are ten of us in a 30-foot trailer. I’m not really a whiner. That last sentence might not be true.
What is The Typing Coach Online Typing Course?
The Typing Coach is an online typing curriculum that uses audio, video, and text instruction to systematically work through seven typing lessons with the following criteria:
- no looking at the keyboard
- no looking at the screen
- accuracy is more important than speed
- speed will come with practice
- all typing is done from a sheet of paper
- mastery is crucial
The idea is to get students typing ten words a minute with no mistakes, and then have them gradually increase their speed through practice practice practice. The ultimate goal is an employable rate of 45 words per minute. A marketable skill! Hooray!
What can you expect?
I didn’t understand the concept of this course when we were first invited to review it. Honestly, I was disappointed to learn I had to print pages for the kids to type. Argh–printing! Argh–shelf space! Argh–papers! I really wanted something entirely online, even though that isn’t always reliable for us either! Argh–sketchy internet! Argh–this woman complains too much!
As it turns out, the purpose of the program is to teach students to type what they see on paper. In other words, if the student is typing something that was previously handwritten or typing up some notes, she will not be typing what she sees on the screen. She will be typing from paper to screen. Because I don’t do those things, I hadn’t considered the importance of that skill–it turns out that’s a necessary skill for employment in many fields. Who knew?! Disappointment gone!
So what can you expect?
First of all, don’t expect games and other silly distractions. This program is purely typing. My girls appreciated the lack of talking creatures and silly cartoons taking up their valuable cookie-baking time.
Second, you can expect to be, at least part of the time, typing some important documents, namely the Declaration of Independence and the Gettysburg Address. I appreciated the lack of junk in their typing.
Third, your typing sessions will be short and focused.
Fourth, you will fail.
Wait, wait! Go back to number four. I will fail?!
Yes, you will fail. For every section of the program (home row, upper row, etc.), you take a test to prove mastery before you move on. Mastery is perfection. You will eventually fail. That means you will not be able to move ahead until you have perfected your typing skills. You will not be able to take the exam again for two days, because you are locked out for a little while so you can practice some more.
Ugh, that’s so mean?
Really? It’s mean to teach you to type really well? Well then, Meanie, bring it on!
The program will teach mastery, and it will not let you skate by. Ultimately, you will not move on until you are a success story, and with every success, you learn a little more. There will be failures en route, but the end game is success. It’s brilliant…and it’s how we approach all our subjects.
At the same time as it requires mastery, the program does not rush you. The student is encouraged to take her time on each lesson, focusing on perfection, similar to how you would savor a really good chocolate bar. Actually, it’s nothing like a chocolate bar–I just have chocolate on the brain.
I like that the instructor places a strong emphasis on going at your own pace, that each student will learn at different rates, and that’s okay! Give that man a cookie!
The instructor also explains that the students will eventually reach a learning quagmire, so to speak, at which point they will have to struggle through. He encourages them that if they work at it, they will move past the muck and typing will get easier. That’s a life lesson right there.
My girls had a few comments on their experience. There is music that plays during some of the typing. They would have preferred Mozart or Tchaikovsky, they said–a personal preference, we know. They also said that sometimes they are distracted by the instructor talking while they’re typing. They have chocolate on the brain, too, though, so take that with a grain of salt.
Is this parent-heavy?
If your child struggles or needs encouragement, you will need to get involved. You may even wish to take the course with or ahead of your students, so you can help them over any speed bumps. The program’s creator, however, is also available to help as well.
Timed proficiency tests and exams monitor your student’s progress. That’s one less step for Mom!
As far as we are concerned, I printed the papers my girls were to type from, and they took it from there. I only check in now and then to see how they’re doing. It’s very hands-off for me, but my girls are 14 and 16. If you’re working with a younger student or special needs, you may need to at least be available, not hiding in the van eating chocolate.
Additional thoughts for other frugal and/or large families:
This is a solid, no-frills typing program that you have access to for an entire year for any children within your household. It teaches quickly, and no extra expense is needed to help your children achieve typing mastery. Simple, quick, frugal.
A teacher resource center offers reward tickets, learning checks, and progress charts, as well as additional videos to help younger students, if you would like to stretch one program over several children.
Additional thoughts for my fellow roadschoolers:
Because this is an online program, it does not take up space. However, it also relies on printed papers for the kids to type from. I printed up one copy of everything except the record-keeping sheet for my two girls. After all, they have to share a computer, so they can’t both be working at the same time anyway. Ultimately, it isn’t very much paper, especially if you skip the cover pages. They can easily be popped into a 10-cent folder or hole-punched for a binder.
It is an online program, so you will need decent internet access when testing, although not necessarily when practicing. Because you have the program for a year, and it’s really only a ten-week program, you should have no trouble finding decent internet access for ten weeks out of 52.
You can use The Typing Coach anywhere you have a keyboard and an internet connection. Ah…internet connection…you elusive beast, you.
Will it stay on the road with us?
My girls started strong with the program, but then we were boondocking for two weeks, so they didn’t have access to the internet. I want them to continue and achieve at least 45 words per minute, which is completely doable with this program.
One of my girls already increased her words per minute by 18 points, and the other by 12, even with their two weeks of delinquency. That’s not bad for starters. Since we have access for a year, they’ll both be completing it, and I might take it myself. I do weird finger contortions on my right hand. It’s pretty creepy watching me type.
I’ll also be having my 11-year-old take the course. I don’t think I’ll be going down to my almost-9-year-old, but we’ll see.
All in all, this was not what I expected at all, but I’m not disappointed. My girls are improving with their typing. Isn’t that the point?! And I completely appreciate the lack of frills.
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