It was exciting to start another year with the Homeschool Review Crew and get to begin choosing more products to review! One of the first ones this year was the UltraKey Online Family Subscription from Bytes of Learning. I have been trying different typing programs for several years, trying to teach my boys to touch type. The one we used for the last couple of years was expensive, although it seemed to work, but it was time again to either pay for another year or find something else to use for the 2018 school year—and then the opportunity to try UltraKey came up. Just what we needed, and at the right time, except that we had to move during the review period, so that we didn’t get to try it for very long before writing this review.
I have seen enough of this product to be fairly impressed. There are a lot of instructional videos, and the option to have all directions read aloud. That makes it easy for younger children to use on their own, and the older ones were glad that we could turn that feature off by clicking the Auto button. After watching a video once, you are allowed to skip it; if you select Off for the Step-by-step Learning setting you can skip all of them if you want to. I allowed Mr. Intellectual and Mr. Diligence to turn off that setting, since they already have a fairly good foundation for touch typing. Mr. Sweetie is still required to go step by step through the program, since he is still learning the basics.
After a video about posture and an introduction to the course, there is a lesson on finger positions, and then the proper lessons start. After learning several keys, the student has the opportunity to practice words and then sentences. After that, it’s time for a skill check; the student chooses to type either a certain amount of text or a certain number of minutes. Once he has passed the skill check, he can move on to the next lesson. Passing is determined by reaching the preset goal. I was able to set goals for the boys myself. The goal I have set for Mr. Sweetie for this year is to become accurate; the other two boys are supposed to increase their speed. One thing I’m liking is the ability to see a report of what the boys have accomplished; here is the report from Mr. Sweetie.
After completing the lessons and skill check, if you need more practice, you can redo lessons or skill checks, or use the Typing Forum or Game Zone. The Typing Forum offers more passages to type to increase your speed and accuracy, or you can select Free Typing and just type anything you want to. The Game Zone offers practice with grammar and spelling as well as speed and accuracy. As typing games, they aren’t very exciting, but they are good practice.
We haven’t used this program long enough to really know if it works, but it looks to me like it is a good one. For the price, I believe it is worthwhile. I appreciate that they are offering subscriptions for various-sized families. After our free subscription for review expires, I will probably pay for a subscription for next year. If you are looking for a systematic way to teach your children touch-typing, look into UltraKey!
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