My sister is a career typist and she gave us a super shortcut for free typing practice.
Simply type "The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog." over and over.
It's the best keyboard practice advice I'd ever heard.
It was so simple that I did not recognize it at first, although it has worked for our children and gives them time to practice when they are offline.
First, show your kids how to hold their four fingers on each hand over the keyboard. Show them that the keyboard has a bump where their index fingers should go:
Then show that each of the four fingers can reach to type a top and bottom alphabet key. Their index fingers can reach two keys, which fills in for the letters in the center of the keyboard. For example:
And the same applies for the right hand:
The index fingers can reach six keys each:
Poof! That's most of what children need for typing practice. Pretty neat when you consider how easy the principle is.
You can open a NotePad or StickyNote on the computer for your children to practice typing all the letters of the alphabet.
The short cut is for you to type this line that uses all 26 letters at the top of the page:
Then have your child copy the the line. Time after time.
If you leave this on a sticky note on your desktop, your kids can type at any time they have a few minutes:
"The quick brown fox...." has all 26 letters of the alphabet.
Once you have typed this phrase on something like Notepad or Sticky Notes, and your kids copy it as often and as fast as they can, they'll quickly get the hang of it.
Practice, practice, practice.
Review, review, review!
"Once you know the alphabetical 26 keys, you can increase your speed by practicing as often as you have a chance."
Keeping the notepad or a sticky on your desktop, keeps it handy for frequent use. Simply delete a few lines and continue.
I would not recommend Word for this as the formatting frustrates beginners. I remember the first time I used Word and prefer not to share the experience. My sister says this all the time, "Don't you love to hate Word?!"
This is pretty neat. We have re-made all our printable worksheets so that you can type on them to leave notes or directions.
Also, your kids can fill in their answers on the computer which can save you time, paper, and ink.
Now your children can get some free typing practice on their other school work and they can work in their favorite fonts, SIZES, and colors.
See more about our printable interactive worksheets here.
'Back to the notepad.
The children can "doodle" a bit while they wait for other programs to load on the computer.
Type something they need to memorize at the top of a desktop sticky note and have your child copy the text three to five times.
Have him or her repeat this every time they come to the computer.
Truly, they will have immediate feedback when the words do not line up in columns. Their own eyes usually catch the errors because the lines do not line up when there's a mistake.
Self correction is a wonderful life skill to learn!
The same notepad on the desktop will work for any of the children who use the same computer. Simply erase half the page or scroll down some. See the image at the top of this page for a starter.
Your kids can learn to capitalize letters in a few quick moments if you show them that there is a shift key, one on the left and one on the right. Teach them to use the right shift key for letters under the left hand, and the left shift key for letters under the right hand.
Then have them practice using them as they would for typing titles to stories and books:
Next show them that if they need to use capitals for more than one letter, they can use the Caps Lock key, usually on the left and sometimes also on the right, to make all the letter keys show as capital letters:
Make it fun! Offer choices.
As a matter of fact, I think that you'll find that it is true that if one of your children wants to type, he will. Listen to what one of mine asked.
This answer makes the world of difference to high school kids' interest in typing and in doing their school work well. I was so glad to think of that totally impromptu answer! Best free typing practice idea I've used.
This child types as well or better than I did after a whole year of typing class.
Number typing practice is super handy on large keyboards that have the classic ten key setup and on calculators.
Most phones I've seen use the 10 key pad on the dial pad, although for texting the numbers are usually in a straight row.
Start teaching how to type or enter numbers by showing that the 5 key has a bump on it where your tall finger is to hover. If you keep your right hand tall finger over the 5 key, the index, tall, and ring fingers can reach all nine numbers and the tall finger or ring finger can reach the 0 key.
Depending where your device shows the zero key, usually the tall and ring fingers can reach it from the 5 key.
Ok. I never thought that I'd say this, but maybe those who use touchscreens won't need to learn "how to type" the way that I had to learn it.
So. What about Swyping versus typing? Hmm....
Keyboarding practice is fun when you know some easy typing tricks.
You do not really need a typing program or speed tests if you have a real reason to want to type. Simply get to it. If you have a good finger position, you'll be able to improve your typing speed over time.
2014 Note: So far, the only place that we have Swype in our house is on our Android phones; but it makes sense that if the industry is going to go this way, we'd better check what is being used in schools and the workplace.
Swyping on our Android phone is as good or better than typing for hitting the right keys on the keyboard.
I've seen students Swype across the letters as fast or faster than they or I can type! Our daughter sure does.
I think that it is still good to teach kids typing practice, but Swyping might be a whole lot faster. It's sure a world better for speed than hunt and peck.
It's not absolutely necessary that your children learn to type using a program; but it is nice to use a system that will teach them all the keys and what they do.
We have four children who have used the program Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing (buy at Amazon) which has a program that starts with finger placement and adds practice typing skills of each of the newly introduced keys as typing improves.
It keeps track of errors and adds more practice for repeated errors. That means that you and the student can keep track of improvement.
Kudos! It's nice to have the immediate feedback along with the scores. Also, it includes many typing games for kids.
I know homeschools that accept Mavis Beacon in their high school business courses, and simply offer a syllabus in the form of a chart to record times and scores to put on transcripts. If you're homeschooling, this is a great self directed course.
Mavis Beacon has keyboarding practice from several perspectives.
The games encourage accuracy and speed. Some of our children did not like the feature that some of the games can't be skipped. Just like I did they tense up when they're being timed; but they have all learned to use the keyboard with a minimum of parent/teacher effort using this program. Of course, this is the feature that I like best.
Several users can use Mavis Beacon's programs while keeping track of their new practice typing skills.
They can go back to the acquired level whenever they return by simply choosing their own user name. We have found this so handy with our kids. So, in a way, this is homeschool software because you have a typing tutor that does the teaching work for you and the children finish or get to the level you desire with their own self-study.
Keyboarding practice is easy with Mavis Beacon since there are incremental steps in the practice and in the typing games and even a practice typing test for each level. There are simulations for practice typing online, skills to learn for using Microsoft Office Word and more.
A fabulous feature with Mavis Beacon Platinum (Amazon) is the ability to Import Your Own Text if you have Microsoft Word 2007 or higher. As a homeschooler this is my favorite feature.
This way the children have typing practice on the material of your choice. Upload your favorite Bible, history, or literature quotes and your children can practice away. Most homeschool curriculum programs that I have seen count this for a year's typing class if you show what work was done, or as in my state, show the hours.
I still think that "The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog." is awesome for free typing practice, so after your children learn the basics and you can upload The Quick Browm Fox, copy the phrase and paste it in a handy place.
With Mavis Beacon there is practice for English, Spanish and French.
As with the other versions of Mavis Beacon there are:
And much more! Check the prices for Mavis Beacon Platinum at Amazon.