I don’t know about you, but when I was a kid, my interaction with a computer keyboard was pretty limited, even though we were one of the few that had a home computer. Me and a friend played Load Runner and Carmen Sandiago, and I would play Frogger on our Commadore 64. It was pretty awesome.
I didn’t have to actually type any words. I have no idea if typing games even existed back then. My first experience with learning to type correctly was in middle school in our boring typing class. The only thing that made it better is the excitement to get our hands on the computers and to sit in the coveted computer lab.
But our kids can’t wait that long any more before potentially picking up bad habits. The games today are far more sophisticated, and prevalent in many kids’ every day life. Typing is a lot of muscle memory, and bad habits stick worst when you don’t even know you’re doing it. Honestly, it hadn’t dawned on me until recently that I should get ahead of the curve and get my kids introduced to real typing lessons, and at this age it’s most appropriate for that to come in the form of typing games.
The following is a review of KidzType. I have been compensated for my time, and all opinions are my own.
My kids have absolutely no prior knowledge of any typing skills. They didn’t even know that there’s a proper way to hold your hands on the keyboard. So, we’re starting from a fresh slate here, and I jumped at the chance to get them started on the right foot with a fun and free typing game.
Right away my 7 year old was drawn in to the simple and colorful graphics and the self-explanatory instructions on KidzType. After playing the first round, she turns to me and asks, “Can I do another?!”
Right now she’s in the stages of learning all the letters, so when she needs more practice, I can have her use the typing exercises to help her solidify her knowledge and build more speed. When she’s done with all the lessons, she can then go on to the typing games to tie it all in in a fun way.
How KidzType works
KidzType has four levels, each with three stages. Each stage takes the child through a few new keys and has lots of practice on using the new keys both in random patterns, and words that can be created using the letters they’ve worked on.
Within each level there are many visuals to show where to correctly place your fingers. The illustrated hands have color coded fingernails to match the colored keyboard keys, plus a symbol radiates from the finger that should be used for the key that is to be pressed next. Both of these help train the child to look at the screen, not at their fingers, which may be one of the biggest hurdles when learning how to type.
When they hit a wrong key, the error sound is a simple squeak. One of my kids is very sensitive to negative feedback and I’m thankful that such a sound makes her react with “Oops!” instead of discouragement.
Why teach touch typing
Touch typing is pretty straight forward – you type without looking at your fingers. I figured before this review that I was a pretty proficient at touch typing. Whenever I do any typing tests, I get somewhere in the range of 55-65 words per minute. Not amazing, but not bad. But what I noticed when I started playing these games on KidzType.com is that if the keystrokes weren’t in the form of words I already knew and was familiar with typing already, my speed was far slower. My typing apparently is similar to only using sight words when learning how to read – I couldn’t easily type out things that weren’t already familiar to me.
So, this review is about my kids using the program, but frankly, I’ve gotten some great practice as well, and I’ve been having fun with it. It feels like it brings me back to the old school computer games I used to play as a kid with the sound effects, and I’ve definitely improved my touch typing in this short time.
How to bring typing games into your routine
With young kids, it’s key to put websites into their bookmarks toolbar. For now, we have not taught the kids about surfing the Internet, and we generally just whitelist addresses and everything else is blacklisted. By putting the website on the bookmarks toolbar, or even a shortcut on the desktop, it’s within easy reach for kids to use it at their leisure, or for mom to tell them to do some typing games while she’s in the shower.
While we limit screen time, I do recognize the peace it brings to my home to have my kids occupied and not making a mess. Making educational stuff easy to use for them adds to my comfort level, big time.
For us, I like to have my kids practice typing while their sibling is doing a one-on-one lesson. It’s hard to micromanage that they are properly using the computer, so I like using TypeDojo, the sister site to KidzType, to give them something to work toward. 4H has pins, scouts have badges… in general, we like to show we have completed something. TypeDojo.com is a free typing test for all ages, and at the completion of the test, you can print out a certificate to show your progress. There are a variety of tests so even the earliest learner can see their progress and can print out a certificate, if they choose!
After I showed my husband TypeDojo, we may or may not have competed for best typing speed and accuracy. Good thing we are both good sports. LOL!
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