One of the things we have always known about Bean, ever since he started school is that he doesn’t like to write. He can write, and well (not necessarily neatly, especially since he is left handed) but he doesn’t like to. At school, he would do written work very, very slowly and drive his teachers to distraction. They would keep him in at playtime to do more work, which really only made him resent written work all the more.
The thing was, like many children in the same boat, it wasn’t that he couldn’t do the work, or didn’t understand, or didn’t remember – he could and would answer all the questions asked of him verbally, would contribute fully to the lessons and remember every scrap of information he was given. He just didn’t see the point of writing it down, and was also frustrated by the fact that he is not a quick writer.
So when we began home education, I vowed not to make make him write anything down for the sake of it. If he did some research, I didn’t want to make him write down his findings unless it was of benefit to him, so we looked for other ways to record the info, if it needed recording. He created a tourist leaflet showing the “must-see” sights of Paris after exploring Paris on Google street view.
We’ve used maps, made top trumps cards, we’re creating scrap books, take photos, but we do very little writing. When something does need recording, he types more often that not. He finds that frustrating too, because his typing is still at the “one finger” stage and he watches me typing and gets cross that he can’t type as fast (although I’m not the fastest in the world, I can manage around 70 words a minute when there isn’t a small child hanging off one or both of my arms!).
He wants to be able to type more quickly. He has a laptop of his own (my old one, which works perfectly well for his needs) so if we can encourage him to learn to type “properly” that would be a bonus for his work output (though we do still encourage writing in ways that seem to have a purpose – writing postcards for our Postcrossing project; writing shopping lists, Christmas lists – that sort of thing).
I recently found out about a touch typing course aimed at children called TypeKids, I decided we should give it a go. Well, when I say we ….
TypeKids typing course consists of 30 online lessons which come together to form an adventure story. The child plays the main character in the adventure, a pirate treasure hunt. Each lesson lasts around 25 minutes and comes with clear audio instructions. The child can learn at their own pace, although the course is designed to take around 10 weeks to complete – so 75 minutes a week. There’s a free trial available, and the whole typing course costs $89.95 (around £56).
So far Bean has completed the first three lessons, all of which concentrate on the base position of the fingers (asdf jkl;). The course tries to make this as interesting as possible, with correct key strokes helping pirates climb the rigging, find treasure etc. Obviously, there’s only so much you can do with eight keys though, and learning to type necessarily involves learning by rote where the keys are. I’ve tried the typing course myself, and found it a useful revision of my typing skills. The lessons are interspersed with pirate themed games (which Bean found a useful break from the typing practice). In the lessons we have covered so far, there’s no penalty for getting a keystroke wrong; you just try again until you get it right, and there’s no time limit, which means that children who are literally at the one-finger-at-a-time level (which I suspect most children will be) can make progress at their own rate.
I have to admit, it’s not the most exciting course in the world (but I’m not sure how much more exciting a typing course can be!), but they’ve made a good effort at making it interesting, and it’s certainly a very useful tool, especially when you consider that our children are likely to do far more typing in the future than writing.
Disclosure: Bean was given access to the TypeKids typing course in exchange for an honest review. The opinions expressed are wholly our own.