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School-use Laptop for 10 yr old DS

(12 Posts)
Solo2 Tue 23-Aug-11 15:46:50

DS1 has got to get a laptop for this coming school yr. He recently had a private psych. assessment indicating processing/ production difficulties contributing to him not showing his full potential academically. I had assumed that the school allowed use of their new 17 laptops for children like him but this isn't the case and I shall have to provide one/buy one.

I am only just starting my 2 week summer break from work, before DCs return to school, so have left it all rather last minute. I was going to get my friendly local PC repair man to sort out the right sort for DS1 but only just found out he's away on hol. till October. I am NOT computer savvie and really need to buy one that is completely ready to use and easy to 'set up'....actually, I'm hoping there's no 'setting up' to do.

What kind of laptop would DS1 need? It's just for word-processing and as he already has a desktop PC at home, doesn't need anything else added. Not sure though what would be compatible with the school I need to know this???.... and also v cheap as the latest school fees plus the recent massive amount I've just had to spend on uniform and shoes alone is wiping me out!

Strix Tue 23-Aug-11 15:58:01

Can the school advise what they use and what might be appropriate for his work? What about a little net book?

scaryfairy28 Tue 23-Aug-11 16:01:27

If it's just word processing a netbook would do but the key board would be small. Most computers these days are set up and ready to go you don't need to instal the software yourself like in days gone by. On holiday till October, I'm obviously in the wrong job!

goinggetstough Tue 23-Aug-11 16:07:15

My DC had a laptop from age 10 too. Things we have learnt:

1. I would recommend that you get one that is not too heavy. The ones with an external disk drive( one you can plug in) are lighter. A notebook type may be suitable? Sorry can't recommend exact make. I have found PC World and similiar have good deals at this time of year and have always been helpful and more importantly knowledgable.
2. Make sure you have a laptop bag so it is protected from lesson to lesson.
3. Can he touch type? If not get a program. We had Mavis Beacon (slightly older program) but did the job. My DC had to practice 5 mins each day until he could type at 25 words per minute. We were told this was the rate at which the laptop benefits the student.
4. Do check where he can store his laptop at lunch time break time etc so it doesn't get fiddled with broken etc
5. Make sure he has paper/pens etc in his laptop bag so if his laptop isn't working for whatever reason he can continue to participate in the lesson.

My DC found having a laptop meant that his standard of written work improved massively as did his confidence. My DC is now 18 and is on his 3rd laptop in 9 years.

Solo2 Tue 23-Aug-11 16:09:21

Thanks for the replies. He needs it from the first day of term so I can't check with the school what to get him (no one available now till first day of term).

All they said at the end of last term was possibly something by Dell as you can 'create' your own in terms of looks/ colour/ software etc - but this isn't helpful to me as I need an off-the-shelf bought one. I think they also advised against a netbook and said a laptop would be better. They don't seem to think that money might be a consideration either as many of the children seem to own their own iPads - which they're allowed to bring in 'for fun' on the last day of term.

Scaryfairy, I'm hoping I CAN buy one off-the-shelf and it'll have everything he needs as soon as it's switched on.

Solo2 Tue 23-Aug-11 16:12:55

Goinggetstough - just seen your helpful post. Thanks. DS1 is the kind of child who easily breaks and loses things! That's partly why I need something cheap! No he can't touch type but he does feel much more at ease writing on a keyboard than always having to do perfect handwriting at high speed in easily smudged ink! He'll still have to do the latter but for SOME lessons is going to be allowed the laptop.

goinggetstough Tue 23-Aug-11 16:31:17

Do get him to learn to touch type as it makes such a difference. If you buy a program now or find one online you have 10 days+ plus till school starts. We said our DC had to be able to touch type at a particular speed for him to be allowed to take it into school. This meant he had an aim so happily practised each day (5 mins). I appreciate that we had a whole summer holiday to practise but setting an aim I still think is useful.
We found the Dell laptops heavy unless you went for their expensive range which we didn't!
If you don't find one before school starts I wouldn't worry as better to wait a week and get the right one rather than the wrong one for day 1.
Happy Shopping!

mrz Tue 23-Aug-11 16:36:02

We normally provide a child with the laptop on a long term loan (until they leave school) and the LEA also offer notebook loans to children with an EP recommendation

Solo2 Tue 23-Aug-11 17:14:49

Wouldn't get one from LEA as this is a private fee-paying school and the assessment was paid for privately by me at my own instigation! So I'll have to fund it myself.

Will have a look at touch-typing programs and suggest he gives it a go. Many thanks smile

sarahfreck Tue 23-Aug-11 18:24:32

Staples has some good deals on laptops at the moment.

scaryfairy28 Tue 23-Aug-11 18:58:39

Try gumtree or similar maybe you'll get a decent 2nd hand one. If he's desperate for a new one tell him he can have a new one after he proves he doesn't break the 2nd hand one.

sunnydelight Wed 24-Aug-11 06:39:44

The school may not be answering their phones, but surely there is someone in the school office who could help before the beginning of term if you e-mailed? Our school is very techie, and kids in some years have to have laptops but even so the school doesn't recommend any particular one. I would imagine the school ones will run Windows so as long as you go for that rather than a Mac (which are generally more expensive anyone) you'll be fine. The main issue as has already been mentioned is to make sure it's not too heavy but fairly robust!

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