As a parent it’s natural to want to take every opportunity to help your children improve. Once such opportunity emerges when you teach your children how to type. Many schools have removed typing from the formal curriculum. The logic goes that kids already know how to type since many kids have used smartphones before entering school. This is a missed opportunity as touch typing on a keyboard is not the same as typing on a phone.
Kids graduating high school today may never have taken a typing class. The home key method of typing (placing the fingers on asdf and jkl;) is foreign to many young adults. Sure the kids are blazing fast when texting or using a phone. However, this doesn’t translate well to using a computer in the workforce.
Does it Really Matter How We Type?
The short answer is: yes.
The touch typing method allows the student to focus on their writing and ideas. The goal, after all, is to produce a piece of work that will earn a high grade. That becomes much more difficult if you have to think about what you’re writing and how you are typing.
Touch typing is wonderful because it results in cognitive automaticity. That’s when you do something without having to think about it. This is beneficial because our working memory is freed up. Without having to think about typing the brain can focus on higher-level tasks. When a student excels as touch typing they free up other brain resources. By multi-tasking the student allocates mental resources to their best use; focusing on the paper and not worrying about where to find the semi-colon on the keyboard.
Hunt and Peck
Look at any teenager these days and you probably think I’m crazy writing this article. Kids’ fingers move so darn fast on smartphones, how can I argue they don’t know how to type?
I’m not saying kids can’t type. They can. It’s the method used, namely the “hunt & peck” method that is the issue. Smartphone keyboards have made touch typing darn near impossible. Most people, kids and adults alike, are pros at using a phone keyboard. Many don’t even look at the keys when typing. However, research has shown that the home key method of typing is by far the fastest. It isn’t going too far to say that a basic skill of our time is the ability to type fast and accurately.
Newer tech devices aren’t designed for touch typing. Tablets and smartphones cater to the hunt and peck method. New tech requires that we look down at a keyboard and the end result is a decrease in cognitive automaticity.
Technology can be used to teach children many skills, some might even surprise you. If you’re a parent looking for resources to teach your children how to type I’ve compiled a short list below. Some of these are games which shouldn’t deter you from using them as a resource. Games can be a great way to engage young learners and keep them focused on learning a skill.
Resources to Teach Your Children How to Type
First up is TypingClub. A simple and free(!) website that will teach your children touch typing skills. The site includes many games and videos compiled into 600+ lessons. TypingClub provides activities for all ages and skill levels. So beginners and advanced users stand to benefit from some time on the site. You won’t need any special device to use the platform. A web browser and internet connection is all that is required.
The only drawback is really a matter of opinion. The site’s design is rather minimalist. I prefer this look. However, some parents and kids prefer something more eye-catching and engaging.
Do your kids love adventure games? Do you want them to develop better typing skills? Epistory – Typing Chronicles is the win-win solution. Epistory is an adventure game “where everything is to be written”. The lead character in the game gets to ride a magic fox. The objective is to remove the evil insect creatures from the land. Kids journey throughout the game and must use typing to defeat the bad guys.
What TypingClub lacks in visual appeal Epistory makes up for in a big way. A fun, action/adventure game that encourages typing skills will keep many kids engaged for hours.
The leading drawback is that this is a paid game. Starting at $14.99 for a single copy isn’t offensive if compared to a traditional video game. However, it’s still more than free. The game is designed to work on desktop computers for either Windows or Mac.
Typing.com has by far on of the best domains I’ve come across. You know exactly what’s going on at typing.com. The site offers resources for schools and students. Students can take typing skill assessments and build their proficiency from beginner to advanced typist. The big selling point of Typing.com is the games.The site provides a ton of fun, arcade-like games for kids to play.
The big drawback for Typing.com are the ads. They can be a bit much at times. While you can pay to remove ads, the $34.95 (as of this writing) fee to remove the ads is a bit much.
Typing Pal helps learners develop their touch typing skills via engaging animated lessons. You start out by selecting an environment based on skill level. Kids then progress through the various exercises. The platform takes a beginner approach with early lessons focusing on proper finger placement on the keyboard. After completing the program children will have an opportunity to take tests and earn certificates.
Typing Pal offers a free typing test and lite version, but the personal version will cost around $23 per year. The personal version provides one profile, so parents with more than one child may want to consider the home edition. Providing up to three profiles, the home edition is a bit more at $30.
If you’ve been exploring options to teach your children how to type I hope the above guide provided some assistance. Yes smartphones are everywhere today. Kids use them just as much as adults. It’s important to learn the basics of touch typing and become proficient at the skill. Today, at least, using a keyboard is still required for many jobs. School research papers will also still be typed out on a desktop or laptop. Finally, learning a new skill builds a sense of pride in many children. Being known as the fastest typist in school might be a badge of honor to some!