Typing for kids doesn’t always come easy, but it can be one of the best ways for struggling writers to improve their skills. Teaching keyboard and tap typing skills to kids using fun games could mean the difference between a struggle with your child or enthusiastic participation. Below, you’ll find strategies for motivating your reluctant writer to become a master typist, with methods for rewarding and reinforcing sustained practice and some fun typing games to help kids keep their keyboard and tap typing skills sharp.
Make it Fun. Find a fun and engaging typing program that involves a combination of skill development and game play. We highly recommend Epistory: The Typing Chronicles. In this game, the player battles creepy insects by typing words to deal damage. It feels like a true video game with a beautiful setting, unfolding plot, and game mechanics that keep it interesting. Chances are your child will not even think of this as “typing practice,” but as a fun game where they happen to get better at typing.
For younger students who are newer to typing, Ghost Typing is another game that feels more like entertainment than work. The player fends off approaching ghosts by typing words to push them back. Having a couple of lives means that missing a single word isn’t an automatic game over. Ghost Typing Jr. is an even more pared down version of this game for students who need to work on their individual letters.
Start Simple. If your child is new to keyboarding or tap typing, the level of difficulty in the game can prove to be a fun-killing barrier. Exploring age-appropriate options is a good way to ensure that the game your child is playing is challenging but not too outside of their current skill set. For brand new typers, we suggest Rocket Typing Jr. for the computer or The Vehicles Typing for mobile devices.
Include the Family. Turn typing into a family competition. Get siblings to compete, if possible. In many of the games listed here, players can keep track of their typing “scores” or their WPM. Keep a chart in a prominent spot and record weekly scores or WPM for everyone.
Even though you want to set up a competition, it is important that you find ways to reward each of them for their efforts and to provide rewards for whomever makes the most improvement each week. Make sure that the reward is something that is shared, but that the winner gets to choose it. For example, it could be ordering from your favorite restaurant, buying a new game, or staying up a little later for a family movie night.
Teach Tap-Typing. Once your child has mastered typing on a computer keyboard, it will be a good idea to introduce typing on an iPad, tablet device, or smartphone. Having both skills could be very useful. For younger children, we recommend The Vehicles Typing, which features simple lessons such as the QWERTY home row and works up to whole sentences. For older children, the game Type Racer is a competitive way to type tap through longer passages with punctuation while monitoring their weekly progress.
Put Skills to Work. Hire your kids to do some typing for you. Dictate an email to a relative, and have your child transcribe it, or have your child type up an introduction to a video that you want to send to family members. If you have a shared family hobby or activity, consider starting a blog to which everyone in the family contributes. Even something as simple as typing up a grocery list can help.
Peak an Interest. Practice typing and writing skills about something that is of interest to your child. One simple strategy is to have your child post some comments on a blog or website that covers a topic of interest. Kids who like video games might want to share their ideas at a site like IGN, those who are interested in politics might want to post a comment on Huffington Post, and those who would like to review movies could post a review at Rotten Tomatoes. If your child loves fiction, encourage them to write stories of their own, featuring original characters or some from their favorite games, shows, or movies.
Do you have a typing game that your children have loved? Let us know in the comments below!