I was out with some mums tonight and we got talking about kids learning to type, so Katrina, as promised, this post is for you……
With a mum who teaches computer skills, my boys are used to me ‘encouraging’ them to learn as much as they can about the technology they use at home and at school. One skill I want them to have is being able to touch type. It is a fundamental skill that they will need for the rest of their lives and I know that they will thank me when it comes to taking notes in classes, or completing assignments, but there are other benefits for them too.
Typing is great for hand-eye co-ordination. Typing is a complex task that requires the co-ordination of visual messages and the manual performance of all 10 fingers of both hands in precisely ordered movements.
Typing gets kids thinking faster. In academic terms it’s called cognitive automaticity. Typing frees you from the slowness of handwriting, and lets you record your ideas at the speed of thought. The speed of thought is generally around 40 words per minute, whereas children in years four to six usually have a handwriting speed of 8 to 12 words per minute.
So I was very happy when last year my eldest son was given the homework task of learning how to type – in a week! I remembered how I learnt in Business College - on a manual typewriter with a flip book practicing each row of keys. For some reason I didn’t think that would work with my son! So online I went, looking for a program that my son would actually use. There are some great online programs for adults (for details of the one I think is best see my Downloads and Free Stuff page) but I wanted one that was aimed at kids. I struck gold when I found BBC Dance Mat Typing. It’s aimed at 7 to 11 year olds, with lots of bright colours and fun music, and animal characters guiding you through the different lessons and levels. My son actually wanted to go onto the site after school each day – he was 9 at the time and by the end of the week he was touch typing – only slowly - but he was doing it. Recently he asked if he could go onto the site again and even got his younger brother interested. I’ve found that boys like learning to type because it’s like a race to see who can get the fastest speed.
There are other learn to type sites, but when I was looking I found that so many of them had screens that were cluttered with advertising, hard to navigate and far too many had annoying popups. Take a look at BBC Dance Mat Typing – it has a clean and simple layout, very easy for your kids to find their way around, so they won’t be bothering you to help them.