We live in a world where there is a never-ending list of things for children to learn. After a while, it gets to a point where we have to ask ourselves if it is really necessary for our children to learn “xyz”. Is it really that beneficial or even necessary given that there are so many other other things for them to learn? Even if it was beneficial, would it be worth the time it takes to learn “xyz”?
One might ask that question about touch-typing. Given the huge exposure our children have with technology, I think we can safely say that every child will eventually learn how to type. Is it really necessary for them to go the extra mile and learn how to touch type?
Perhaps I am biased because I can touch-type and I find it so much more convenient, but I do believe that the ability to touch-type saves us a lot of time in the long run. It is not a difficult skill to pick up – especially with the multitude of touch-typing programs available to us – and it’s probably even easier if you pick up when you’re a child. Best of all, it requires no maintenance – once you’ve learned it, it stays with you for life because you automatically get practice on a daily basis through our regular and necessary exposure to technology.
- Speed – it’s much faster than the “hunt and peck” style of typing; and it can also be faster than writing by hand. Touch-typists don’t need to waste time checking the keyboard to find the right keys.
- Accuracy – touch typing improves accuracy because you don’t have to keep switching from looking at the screen to the keyboard. You’re more likely to miss typing errors if you’re constantly switching your focus to your hands.
- Time – you will save a lot more time in the long run because you can significantly reduce the time it takes you to type up a report, document, email, etc. The average “hunt and peck” typist has a typing speed of 30 words per minute, while a touch-typist can type as fast as 80 to 90 words per minute.
- Fatigue – it is much less tiring mentally and physically if you can touch-type. Touch-typists don’t have to focus on two things at once because they know where all the keys are. All they need to think about is their output. They also eliminate the need to physically bend their heads to look down at the keyboard to search for the next keystrokes.
- Health – touch-typing can improve posture and reduce the risk for repetitive stress injuries (RSI) that are prevalent in individuals that spend a lot of time working at a computer.
- Job Prospects – Typing is not an optional skill anymore. Many employers require computer skills and a certain typing speed to even be considered for some positions. Needless to say, they aren’t looking for 20-30 word per minute hunt and peck typists. Learning to touch type, and to do so accurately, can be one of the most invaluable skills of your career. Want to find out your wpm typing speed, visit ahttp://www.ratatype.com/typing-test/.
- Focus – touch-typing helps you stay focused on what you’re working on. This increases productivity because it is easier to pay attention to the details of your project rather than having to focus on your keystrokes.
- Editing – if you are distracted by the keyboard, you are less likely to notice spelling or grammatical errors until well after you’ve made them. Touch typing lets you edit as you go without taking up too much time. The time it takes to correct your errors as they appear is much less than having to go back to edit your work from the start.
Typing and Posture
This is probably the most important reason why children should learn to touch type…
In the following video, Dr Alan Mandell talks about the damaging effects of having a prolonged forward head posture. Although Dr Mandell makes references specific to texting, the forward head posture is also a common problem for the “hunt and peck” typists who often need to lean forward in search for the right keys to press.
The slight change in the position of your head may seem minor and inconsequential, but the follow image demonstrates why every inch forward is significant.
Every inch of forward head posture increases the weight of your head on your spine by as much as 10 pounds. – Physiology of Joints
The ideal posture when seated at a computer is shown below and it is much easier to maintain this posture if you can touch-type.
Learning How to Touch Type
There are lots of programs you can use to learn how to touch type. Whichever one you use, there are a few pointers to remember:
- Always use the correct fingers and don’t look at your fingers! When you first start out, it’s tempting to cheat and look at your fingers, but if you start a bad habit, it’ll be harder to break it later. The more you practice the right way, eventually, it’ll start to come naturally.
- Relax! Don’t rush it. You can pick up the speed once you get the hang of it. Since you’ll be typing a lot more after you’ve learned the basics of touch-typing, you’ll be getting loads of practice typing fast later.
- Remember to take breaks, shake your hands out and relax your muscles if you get tired.
Test Your Typing Speed
There are a couple of free programs you can use for this:
- Typing Test – in this test you get a series of random words that you need to type as quickly (and accurately) as you can.
- Typing Speed Test – I prefer this one because it feels more natural. Instead of typing a series of words, you have to type out a story. The flow of text is more like what you would normally be typing.
This free touch-typing program from BBC Bites was created for kids. The children go through a series of levels that teach them the positions of the letters on the keyboard and lets them practice using them until they’re comfortable with their positions. When the children complete all the levels, they get a certificate of completion.
- Level 1 – home row keys (a, s, d, f, g, h, j, k, l, 😉 and e, i, r and u
- Level 2 – remaining keys above the home row (t, y, w, o, q and p)
- Level 3 – keys below the home row (v, m, b, n, c and comma)
- Level 4 – x and z, capital letters and apostrophe, slash and full stop
When I was a kid, I used Mavis Beacon to learn how to touch type. Now they have a version created especially for kids. In the kids version, they have:
- Brand new user interface that appeals to the tween market
- 200 plus practice sessions with on trend content
- Arcade room with 10 typing games
- Enhanced, detailed reporting by individual key
- Printable certificates of achievement
With a specially tailored program for children, they can learn to type playing games, like these:
In this paid program, kids learn to type through an exciting adventure on Typer Island. They learn all keyboard basics following an age-appropriate Typing Plan. Step-by-step lessons, challenges, tests, and games motivate kids to keep typing their way around the Island to reach the Castle, advance to the Lost City, and become touch-typists! Kids can learn in English or Spanish.
This program offers rewards every step of the way! Kids visit distinct lands for lessons, challenges, tests, and games. They search for treasures, earn points, and add gold and jewels to their treasure box, on a journey to reach the Castle and become the Ruler of Typer Island. Once they reach the Castle, they advance to the Lost City, for more challenges and exciting games!
Explore Distinct Lands!
Kids visit The Old West, On the Water, In the Air, Over the Edge, and Under the Sea. They can take a break from lessons and go to Explorer Isle to play games, or to Story Lagoon to practice typing stories from Classic Literature and Fairy Tales.
Exciting Castle Adventures!
Once kids get to the Castle, they can play new games, like Tomb Typer and Xtreme Typing, and they can go to the Lost City for Treasure Quest and the ever-challenging Ziggy!
The Mysterious Lost City!
Kids get to visit the Lost City once they complete the lessons, tests, and challenges of all five lands on Typer Island and “Capture the Castle!” In the Lost City they can explore the ruins and the shipwreck, and play Treasure Quest, the first typing adventure game, and the challenging arcade action game, Ziggy.
30+ Game Challenges!
Typing Instructor for Kids Platinum uses “Entertainment Explosion,” to make learning to type fun and exciting. Kids can play games in a variety of ways by selecting options from the game settings menu. Arcade-style play and multiple levels make games extremely challenging and fun.
There are over 30 typing challenges, including:
- Comprehensive Evaluation
- Timed Challenges
- Advanced Level Challenges
- Multi-Level Game Challenges
Touch Typing Study is another free program offering typing lessons, speed test and games. While it’s a pretty “back to basics” program without any flash graphics or animation, it’s uniqueness lies in the fact that it is available in more than 65 languages and it contains more than 70 keyboard layouts, making it a practical program for students learning to touch type in other languages.
More touch-typing programs for kids:
- Typing Club – also free
- Type Kids – not free, but they have a free trial
- Keyboarding games – great for getting in more practice
- Speed Typing Online – free but not so fun (reminds me of the program I used to learn how to touch-type)
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