views on touch typing aged 8

(41 Posts)
selfesteem Sun 14-Jul-13 22:17:37

Any views on an 8 year old learning touch typing? If successful can you recommend a fun programme to teach it.

Acinonyx Sun 14-Jul-13 22:23:07

Oh me too - bump - I'd like my 8 yr-old to touch type.

JollyShortGiant Sun 14-Jul-13 22:26:08

Watching with interest. I taught myself to touch type at about 14 by tippexing out the letters on my keyboard keys. But I was already a competent typist so found it pretty easy.

RayABlokeIUsedToKnow Sun 14-Jul-13 22:28:45

BBC Dance Mat Typing is a free online touch typing resource for children...and me! I used it to teach myself touch typing and it's brilliant!

Schmedz Sun 14-Jul-13 22:33:11

Touch typing is a brilliant skill to have and the earlier you can start, the better! Thanks to Ray for a great website suggestion...

selfesteem Sun 14-Jul-13 22:40:18

Does everyone agree that the BBC site is the best??

basildonbond Sun 14-Jul-13 22:51:19

bbc site is ok but very limited - ds whizzed through in no time but was definitely not a touch typist at the end

Mavis Beacon did it for him ... but he was 10 so that bit older

He's brilliant at typing now - ludicrously fast - and it's made so much difference to the amount he's able to write (handwriting v slow and painful for him)

sadmum1000 Sun 14-Jul-13 22:58:33

My DS who is 8 had to do this at school this year and was struggling - after a bit (ok a lot) of research I bought him a nessy fingers pc game on eBay. He loves it and has improved.

Pyrrah Mon 15-Jul-13 10:13:31

I wish they'd teach touch-typing at school rather than cursive handwriting - this is what many of my friends in the USA's children are doing.

Such a useful skill.

I did Mavis Beacon years ago...

Elibean Mon 15-Jul-13 11:06:59

dd1 is 9, and has decided to learn to touch type as a 'holiday challenge'.

She is using BBC's Dance Mat, which is brill and is learning fast.

I think it's a hugely useful skill, to be learned before starting secondary school - I'm so grateful I can touch type, though I never used it for work.

youcouldnevermakeitup Mon 15-Jul-13 13:44:50

Ds is learning at school using the BBC website. I think it is a brilliant skill to learn and am pleased it is part of the curriculum at his school. His speed has improved enormously but he is still not able to 'touch type' as I do not think his fingers are long enough! It is really hard to learn properly at this age.

Elibean Mon 15-Jul-13 14:21:20

Yes, I think dd would have struggled a year ago. Now, at 9.5, it's no problem (ditto piano - improved enormously as fingers grew this year!)

AChickenCalledKorma Mon 15-Jul-13 16:09:44

DD1 has worked her way through the Dance Mat typing programme, but still really struggles with typing. She gets very frustrated by anything that has to be produced on a computer. She's in Year 6 so it's becoming real issue.

Think we'll give Mavis Beacon a go and see if that's better.

I'm disgusted to see that the latest reforms for the national curriculum STILL have loads of emphasis on beautiful handwriting and bugger all about typing. We are not educating Victorian clerks any more!

Ferguson Mon 15-Jul-13 17:44:18

Hi - retired male TA here :

I was taught to touch-type in the RAF National Service in 1958, and have been doing it ever since!

For a couple of years I taught Yr2 as a lunch-time activity, but I selected children I knew would have the patience and self-discipline to do it, but it is quite a big 'ask' at Yr2.

I have also done some with Yr6, again as a 'club' activity rather than in lessons. In both cases I made the resources myself, though Yr6 children also used an on-line program.

The BBC Dance Mat is fine to get children (and maybe parents!) started. I haven't used Mavis Beacon myself, but it is often quoted, though I get the impression it could be a bit 'stuffy' - but it may have been undated now.

Somewhere I did have a list of alternatives, and if I can find it I will come back with info. I may also have a 'help list' I once compiled on how best to tackle the skill, which I'll try and find.

It is certainly a useful skill to have, but it is MUCH easier on an 'office' style computer keyboard, rather than a 'lap-top' which does not have the correct 'feel' or 'reach', but I guess the office keyboard is getting phased out in many locations these days.

Watch this space, and I'll try to get back with more info in a few days.


Ferguson Mon 15-Jul-13 18:48:23

Hi again -

Easier than I thought it might be - I have found a link regarding touch typing, which I'll try and post below :

if anyone wants any further help, you can 'message' me. And sometime I'll have a look at Mavis Beacon.

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

selfesteem Mon 15-Jul-13 20:31:57

I was planning for DS to use a proper keyboard not a laptop. Some one mentioned finger length being a problem, has anyone else found this?

DS is the size of a 3 - 4year old with weak muscles for writing hence the suggestion to try typing but that makes me think his fingers will be too short.

Sunhasgothishaton Mon 15-Jul-13 20:38:58

Recommend Mavis Beacon - my mum taught me to touch type at 8, and I've taught both of mine from the same age, and both very competent typists now.

RussianBlu Mon 15-Jul-13 23:35:24

Great thread. Such a useful skill to have. Helped me hugely when studying and had to write long essays. My son has also been asking to learn so this thread has been very informative. I remember taking exams in high school for typing but cant remember what they were called.

Ferguson Tue 16-Jul-13 17:35:36

RussianBlu - 'RSA' was the standard one - Royal Society of Arts; and Pitmans was also common. (I see they do 'on-line' tuition, but don't know the cost.)

Elibean Tue 16-Jul-13 17:51:38

selfesteem - I was one of the ones who posted about finger length, but in dd's case I suspect she just didn't have the staying power earlier on, so it's not just size smile

I suspect it is easier with longer fingers, so you can reach all the keys without having to leap about - but, like piano, leaping is possible so if he's motivated I would think your ds might manage. Especially on a smaller (laptop?) keyboard.

Elibean Tue 16-Jul-13 17:52:59

I learned to touch type at Sight and Sound in Bristol, a million years ago - starting with manual typewriters, then electric, iirc! RSA sounds familiar.

Ferguson Tue 16-Jul-13 18:06:34

Elibean - NO! not a laptop, not correct 'feel' or 'reach' (we already covered that - you're not paying attention!)

ChunkyPickle Tue 16-Jul-13 18:17:09

I remember that touch typing (don't even remember the name, was on an RM nimbus) was a game for us when we were little (although I was about 10 when we got our first computer)

Because it's my job, I can type super fast, and the initial touch typing lessons mean that I naturally keep my fingers in the right places, but so much of it is just practise.

I can type faster now that I'm on an island keyboard (like a Mac) because the travel is so much less than on the old super-clunky keyboards, also the pressure required is less. I don't know the pros and cons of learning on a small laptop vs. a full size keyboard, but I don't have any trouble switching between so I personally don't think it's a big deal to learn on a laptop, especially if you have smaller hands (as a kid would)

culturemulcher Tue 16-Jul-13 18:24:11

I'm going to try to get DD8 to learn to touch type over the summer holidays too.

I've found this one which is a bit dull visually, but I think gives exactly the kind exercises and repetitive practice you need - unlike BBC Dancemat.

Would be great if everyone reported back to see which sites actually worked smile

goingmadinthecountry Tue 16-Jul-13 19:37:26

I can't touch type but dds 1 and 2 can. They learnt with a payable system called PICA (payed once because dd2 used dd1's notes and neither actually finished the course) - they were about 8 or 9. Dd1 (now 19) can do about 85/90 wpm. So can dd2.

Elibean Tue 16-Jul-13 20:11:29

grin Ferguson, you are right - far too hot to pay attention. You may put me on blue/yellow with a sad face.

follygirl Wed 17-Jul-13 12:03:01

I have bought nessy fingers which is a dvd for my dd aged 9. She likes it much more than dance mat and has improved a lot since doing it.

However my ds 7 didn't like it and prefers dance mat.

gazzalw Wed 17-Jul-13 12:05:29

I actually feel that it's something that should actively be taught somewhere in the National Curriculum - at what age, I'm not sure....

youcouldnevermakeitup Wed 17-Jul-13 23:48:24

I think you can learn at 8, even with 'short fingers', it is just when I compare DS with myself (I touch type) he seems to look at the keys because his fingers have to move much more than mine do. As adults we can easily cover all the keys without looking.

PastSellByDate Thu 18-Jul-13 12:17:06


We have had good success with BBC Dancemat : - and it is age appropriate for an 8 year old.

Our girls found a cheap Sponge Bob Typing video game at PC world (in the sales DVD bin) which was great. info here: - seems really expensive here - I'm sure we only paid £3 for it - so have a look at PC World or similar/ or see if you can download on-line (although I don't know which sites are reliable).

The other game we've come across is TuxType - this is open source software which is based on asteroids format (so letters come down the screen and you have to type the letter to make it disappear) - this gradually builds up memory of where letters are located. Info here:


Ferguson Thu 18-Jul-13 22:32:44

At the risk of being accused of monopolizing this 'thread', I have now come across some info I sent to someone last year, about the 'mechanics' of touch typing, which may be useful to some of you :


I am using an 'office' computer, not a laptop. A laptop will make touch typing much more difficult, as the keys do not have the proper 'feel', nor the natural 'slope' of a separate keyboard. Also the touch-pad means the letters are a bit further away, which means further to reach for a child. So, if possible use an 'ordinary' computer, rather than a laptop for learning to touch type.

Learn the 'home keys' first, keeping the index fingers on F and J, which should have a raised 'pip' that you can feel, so if fingers get 'lost' try and 'feel' your way back (without looking) via F and J.

Left hand home keys: A S D F G

Right hand home keys: H J K L ;

Try to keep the fingers over the Home Keys all the time, except when a finger is moving up, down, or across to reach a letter.

Keep a slow but even speed, and it can help to 'say' each letter, either in your head, or out loud if no one objects! Keeping a chart of the key layout nearby is better than having to look down at the keys.

When first learning T Y U B N then you can look, and practise the 'feel' of reaching for the more distant letters.

It does not matter how slowly you go at first, but try and let your fingers 'learn' where letters are. If you work through the first words in a lesson 'in order', your fingers soon get used to the 'pattern' of words. Early ones include things like :


Take your time, don't be tempted to rush or cheat. It isn't easy, I admit, but it is worth persevering.

I hope this makes sense, and if you have specific questions let me know and I'll try to help.


Good luck folks!

PastSellByDate Fri 19-Jul-13 10:18:24

Just to add - all three things I recommended start with home keys and build more or less how I learned on an old fashioned IBM typewriter. Oh yes, I'm that old. Ribbons, Correcting tape, ah those were the days....

gazzalw Fri 19-Jul-13 12:07:48

Interestingly, DS seems able to touch type without ever having been taught.....

I do think it is an essential skill and one which should be taught at some stage within the National Curriculum. It's so obvious that it should be there and yet no-one can see it...

DW learned when she was a teenager -on a really old-fashioned type-writer - the little finger keys were really stiff and she says that they used to bruise her fingers terribly! She recently threw out an 'electronic' typewriter that was scarcely used - got it about three years before computers became viral!

mrsbaffled Fri 19-Jul-13 21:01:03

Nessy Fingers is superb x My 8yo used it. He has fine motor problems, so needed to learn for school for using his Alphasmart.

sashh Sun 21-Jul-13 02:21:20

Don't forget to cover the hands with a tea towel or similar so that there is no cheating.

OP if your child is small then maybe a netbook with its smaller keyboard would be better to start with.

selfesteem Tue 23-Jul-13 13:21:08

How does nessy fingers work? I have looked but I cant really understand how you learn touch typing without home keys then rows and I don't want to pay if he isn't going to use it. thanks

mrsbaffled Tue 23-Jul-13 14:48:49

Nessy Fingers has home keys "Go (G) Home (H)"
It teaches all the finger positions (by rows) then reinforces through really fun games.

Scribblegirl Sun 04-Aug-13 22:33:30

Better than a teatowel - get a shoebox, take off the lid and cut out one side. Voila - No peeking!

Nessy Fingers is the one recommend at my school for several dyslexic and/or dyspraxic children who are typing rather than writing.

etubrute Mon 05-Aug-13 12:11:49

Nessy fingers, Ds has just turned 8 and he loves it. He did it every day until he broke his arm and he can't wait to get back on when his cast comes off sadly the school would rather he sits and stares at a blank work book all day rather than let him use his newly aquired typing skills hmm. Got the hang really quickly we just need to cover the keys now so he does it without the occasional peak! Its really good because it also covers spelling lists from his weekly spelling sheet sent from school.

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