Our son has a non-verbal learning disability, (very fine) hand tremor and poor graphomotor control. His handwriting is either fast and sketchy or slow and frustrating for him. His fourth grade teacher will allow him to use a keyboard exclusively for assignments; however, his keyboarding skills are still not sufficient to do this. I know he needs to practice keyboarding at home — are there any programs out there he can use on his own to practice typing?
There are a number of excellent programs available for teaching typing on a keyboard or for helping students practice their typing. You might want to check with your son’s school and see what (if any) software they use to teach students typing. Using the same program would give your son the added benefit of continuity as he practices both at home and at school.
If you are interested in purchasing off the shelf software, you might check with some of the big educational publishers such as Scholastic, Broderbund, and RiverDeep. Broderbund makes a typing program called Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing that is used by many schools. While it is often used by older students and adults, there are games built in that may be engaging and motivating for younger users.
If your son is not using typing software in school, or you would like to purchase something different, there are also several websites that review software and may help you evaluate some of the products out there. Top Ten Reviews has a table comparing features of typing software programs for kids , as does the website Super Kids .
Finally, one great typing practice game that your son might enjoy is Typer Shark . The game is released by Pop Cap Games and is freely available online. While it won’t teach your son proper finger placement or technique, it is a great tool for practicing speed and accuracy for a student who already knows how to type.
In this game, users play the role of a deep sea diver and must type letters, numbers, words and symbols as they appear on sharks and piranhas. Type too slowly and the diver gets eaten (no blood or gore — the diver merely disappears and reappears). Because the game is fun, challenging and feels like a real video game, it can be a motivating way of getting kids to practice typing skills.