Monday, November 30, 2009

Great learn-to-type website

Get your child typing!

Kids get frustrated because they can think up story ideas faster than they can write them. Unfortunately, they may give up on writing stories, or end up writing one- or two-line stories because their hands get sore or tired.

The principal at our school had a great idea. If our son could learn to type, he'd be allowed to use the computer in the school (at appropriate times) to write stories.

This is also a good idea for kids who are into computers (and video games) but who aren't yet interested in creating stories. It hooks them on a different level - they get to use the computer.

I searched all over and tried various "fun" software applications, until a teacher told me about "Dance Mat Typing," a learn-to-type program created by the BBC.

It's a bit silly, a bit loud, a bit nerdy - and kids love it. And it worked for my son.

The reason I like it, is that within a few times of using it my son is typing using the home row, and without looking at his fingers. In others words, he's doing "real" typing.

Some of those "game" typing software programs can be fun, but the kids end up hunting and pecking, which isn't what you ultimately want.

When my son wants to play a computer game, but it's during one of his "non-video-game" times - for instance, mid-week - I let him do Dance Mat Typing. He enjoys it, and he's using the computer for something fun and educational.

I realize that of course, kids have to learn to write. This isn't taking anything away from that. But typing is going to be one of those skills that will be necessary in the business world our kids will one day enter. I think it'll separate the cans from the can-nots. (OK, that sounds like a recycling program, separating the cans. But you know what I mean.)


Maryjean said...

That is a great website. Thanks for profiling it as it is something my kids would love. They like to type emails to family and friends but get frustrated because it takes so long to find all those letters.

Sandra Foyt said...

At the lofty age of 10, I don't think I could get my son to try another typing program. He's tried too many, including the highly recommended Type to Learn.

Starting at 7yo, he used those programs to learn the home keys, but he didn't pick up much speed. It wasn't until I let him play on Roblox (lego building virtual world)where he chats with other players that he picked up his typing speed.

Now, he's still grammatically challenged. And, when he has a big writing project, like his recent NaNoWriMo novel, I still have to step in for some dictation and editing assistance.

Anyway, he's come a long way in learning to love writing over the past few years. Encouraging him to learn how to type was definitely an important tool in this process!

Joyce Grant said...

Thanks, Maryjean and Sandra!

For people who haven't heard about it, NaNoWriMo is an online "event" in which people write a 50,000-word novel from November 1 to November 30.
Congratulations to your son on doing it!

Here's the link:

My son finished the Dance Mat program, and I was trying to think of ways to get his speed up as well. He has just joined Club Penguin - similar to Roblox - so I'm hoping that will help.

Thanks for your comments!


CanNurse said...

I LOVE that you made this suggestion for kids. 20 years ago, my son - a gifted student - had a terrible time writing. We couldn't understand it. Then he got a fantastic teacher who told us that his brain worked faster than his hands could write his thoughts, so he was very frustrated & thus couldn't write. She encouraged us to get him a typing teaching program, which we did. He took to it like a duck to water & became an excellent writer within 6 months! I just share this story to give other parents an idea of the advantages of this blogger's idea, & also to show that typing can be a huge help in different student situations. Great Blog! Thanks!

Joyce Grant said...

Thanks, CanNurse.

My son's in the same boat - I think that his hand muscles just aren't developed enough yet to write as fast and as much as he'd like. It's frustrating for him.

I hope you'll be sharing more insights about your son's learning in future posts. We all need to keep sharing and talking about good learning ideas!

By the way, we've been trying Club Penguin as a way to increase his typing speed - but now that I've seen it, I don't think it's the right venue for that. Will have to think of something else (maybe Roblox).

david swensen said...

Thanks for the tips. It's quite hard to nurture that reading skill in a child. I'll have to try the tips you posted. Thanks again.