Subject Reviews

This review is abstracted from FamilyPC, September 1996. It was written by Christine Santo.

Time to Start Typing?

Keyboarding Skills Are a Key to Learning

"...According to educational experts, kids today need to learn to type well as early as possible for a number of educational reasons - all of which stem from the fact that good keyboarding skills are critical to becoming computer literate, and computer literacy helps kids succeed in school now and in their carers later. Also, reports from the front indicate that while middle school teachers expect kids to be able to type, elementary school teachers don't have time to teach typing. That means your kids should be learning it at home."

""In fact, when typing is integrated into the process of learning to read and write, it actually helps kids learn to read and write better and faster.

"'Writing is an important route to reading,' said Jeannine Herron, Ph.D., director of the Media Learning Center at Dominican College in San Rafael, California. 'But writing can be hard for kids just starting out. They have to visualize a sound, manipulate a pencil, draw a letter - it's much easier to associate a fingerstroke [a typed letter] with a sound.'

"I've seen the results firsthand. My four-year-old daughter, Samantha, is hooked on Read, Write & Type. The software helps her see how leters are associated with sounds and how sounds turn into words. (In fact, if you ask her to spell a simple word, she'll put her hands on the table and 'type' on an imaginary keyboard as she sounds out each letter.)"

"So what's the best way to teach kids to type? Not the traditional way of focusing on drill-and-practice sessions (though all the programs have drill sessions designed to give kids sustained periods of typing practice). Your grade-schooler would probably howl in pain after 5 minutes of typing gobbledygook in a virtual classroon setting. Instead, the new typing CDs engage many of your kids' senses (especially their sense of humor).

"Today's typing programs have lessons and tests, to be sure, but they're also loaded with games, graphics, animations, music, and stories that turn typing f-j-f into something of an adventure."

"Many also feature some kind of 'built-in intelligence' that analyzes progress as you go along and makes suggestions based on your particular weak spots, strengthes, and goals. You can also customize the programs to varying degrees, setting almost anything from your speed goal to how many msitakes a program allows before stopping a lesson. And for practicing newfound typing skills, many programs also have a built-in word processor as well as practice material."

Typing Tutor 9 Read, Write & Type Mavis Beacon Kids
Score 93 89 80
Ages 9 to adult 6 to 8 9 to adult
Tone Friendly, easygoing Fun, lighthearted Serious, pedantic
Games 3 Game-based 3
Progress Yes Yes Yes
Customization Moderate Low High
Overall Assessment This is the best all-around program for older kids and adults learning to type. The games are fun, the exercises are well designed, and the interface is intuitive. This is the one to get if you have a beginning reader in the house. It feals like a sereis of games, but it actually teaches kids to read, write, and, yes, type. This program is effective at teaching typing but is overly complicated, too indirect in terms of navigation, and has a condescending, pedantic tone.

For a complete listing of Kids Typing Titles in stock click here!

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