/ May 3, 2024/ English/Language Arts Games, Writing Games/ 0 comments

When I was in high school, one of the best, most useful classes I took was a typing class. I had been hunt-and-pecking for years, but this class really made a difference for me. Ever since I took the course, I have been able to quickly and easily type anything I wanted, which has made a lot of communication a lot easier. Let’s face it: technology isn’t going anywhere, so our kids need to learn how to use it. An important part of that puzzle is touch-typing.

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Handwriting Causing Tears?

If you have a child for whom handwriting is difficult, touch-typing becomes even more important. My daughter’s handwriting is not very legible, so I’m excited for her to learn to type. (I waited to teach my kids how to write. My husband struggled with some fine motor delays as a child, so I figured our kids could use some extra development time. My son was 9 1/2 when I started him on handwriting, and his handwriting almost a year later is quite legible. My daughter was nearly 8 when we started, but she had been writing on her own for years. Consequently, she had a lot of un-learning to do, and has struggled. If I could have trusted that she wouldn’t write on her own, I would have waited longer for her.)

If touch-typing is still too much of a struggle (dyslexia and dysgraphia can cause issues that are not your or your child’s fault), keep in mind that text-to-speech is also a viable option. Editing skills or tools become even more important, but that’s okay; Grammarly is pretty great.

Free Touch-Typing Programs

Learn Typing
Mario Teaches Typing
Learn to Type
Nitro Type
Typing Bolt
KidzType Dance Mat Typing
Tying Land seems to be a free app; we haven’t used it, but someone else recommended it. I googled it and there seem to be versions for several different platforms.

These are the free programs I have found. I just bookmark them on my kids’ login on our Chromebooks, and they have free access to them. We haven’t done any of them consistently, so I can’t say which has worked the best for our family, but give them a try. You might find just the perfect program for your child.

Paid Touch-Typing Programs

If you’ve tried the above and they’re just not cutting it for you, it might be time to try a paid program. I looked into two different paid options:

Typesy has a homeschool program that, at the time of this writing, was just $67 for 5 years of access and included 2 adults and 4 kids. That’s a pretty good deal. I love not having to pay extra just because I have more than 1 child. However, it seems to be pretty focused on typing skills, and I don’t know that it’s any better than any of the free programs.

Touch-Type Read and Spell combines touch-typing with reading and spelling. Now, my kids are strong readers and have been for a while. So I didn’t care about that. But, they have struggled with spelling, so I thought that combining touch-typing with spelling would be good. This program is more expensive than Typesy (currently $96.95/year for one year; each student seems to add on about $25), but it seems a lot more comprehensive. For the convenience of not having to take time for both typing and spelling, I think it will be worth it.

So far, we have only tried the 1-month free trial of TTRS, and there’s a lot of customization you can do! For starters, you can choose either UK or US English. Then you can choose how you want the screen to look with different colors and setups, whether you want the hands shown, and you can even turn any lesson into a dictation lesson. I’m hopeful that it will help my kids with both their touch-typing and their spelling.

And, even better, if you use my code AWRIGHT, you’ll get 10% off! I’ll be sure to update as we use TTRS more. So far, though, my kids love it!

What to Type On?

Little hands can have a hard time reaching all the keys on a full-size keyboard. However, we have found the smaller keyboards of our Chromebooks to be perfect for our kids. As a bonus, you can usually find a refurbished Chromebook for under $100. I’ve tried a few different Chromebooks over the years, and I have the best success with one of the super rugged, made-for-kids-at-school Chromebooks. I miss having a number pad, but the one time I insisted on a Chromebook with a number pad, it lasted less than a year! My other Chromebooks have all lasted several years.

A couple of things you’ll want to keep an eye out for:

  • Year of Manufacture: this is really important because Chromebooks only get updates for a few years
  • How long your new Chromebook will get updates: this varies, so make sure you check it out
  • Is your potential Chromebook compatible with what you want it to do? Chromebooks can work on the web and are Google-based, but they can’t play games. Steam doesn’t work on them, and they don’t have a disc drive. Sadly, most do not have a number pad.
  • What is the storage capacity of your potential Chromebook? Chromebooks tend to have really low storage because they’re cloud-based, but the more storage, the better. Same with processing speed.

All this said, Chromebooks have been a cheap, durable tool for my family. Since they’re Google-based and we’re a Google family, it’s easy to go back and forth between Chromebooks, tablets, and phones.

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