Dance Mat Typing from the BBC is 20 years old this year! And it’s still one of the most popular free touch typing programs for children in the UK. Colourful cartoons with talking animals, it’s a fun way to introduce younger children to the idea of touch typing. But with just 240 lines of text over 12 lessons, that’s nowhere near enough to teach your child the unconscious, physical skill of touch typing and all the benefits that engaging the muscle memory brings, for spelling, literacy, reduced cognitive load, reduced visual stress, increased quality & quantity of work and self esteem.
Come and meet Dance Mat Typing’s big brother: Englishtype. Designed by the Educational Psychologist who was the typing & literacy expert on the Dance Mat Typing team. Meet Englishtype’s Qwerty the robot, and follow his extensive course teaching touch typing. See how it compares with Dance Mat Typing on our website.
20 years ago, the team behind Dance Mat Typing won a BAFTA for their work, a proud achievement! If you’ve tried BBC Dance Mat with your child, but want to get serious and for them to master the skill of touch typing – Englishtype is the very best next step for more “dancing on the keyboard”.
Typing by touch is a physical skill; it uses the unconscious muscle memory instead of the conscious brain. To transfer the skill from conscious to unconscious takes quite a lot of practice and activities designed to target specific areas of skill building – accuracy, speed, pairs & patterns of letters, difficult spellings and high frequency words.
Dance Mat Typing provides a basic introduction to typing using all the fingers; it has simple lessons and teaches a few words using just 240 lines of text in the whole program. It’s a bit like typing “the quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog” 240 times and hope that it will teach your child to type: it won’t! Learning to type by touch needs a lot more practice. Dance Mat can improve keyboard familiarity, making children a little faster on the keyboard, but building the unconscious, automatic skill that unlocks so many more benefits requires about 25 hours of practice (that’s active keyboard time) – that would be an awful lot of repetition of the 12 lessons in Dance Mat Typing!
Learning to type happens in 3 stages:
- Conscious memorisation of fingers and letters (and colours)
- Conscious learning of the finger movement required to type each letter
- Unconscious physical skill – with enough practice and the right activities, steps one and two move from needing conscious thought to being unconscious – like playing a sport, musical instrument or riding a bike
Any typing software that is going to successfully teach a child to type by touch needs to deliver enough content to move through these 3 stages, with enough entertainment and vocabulary to build the skill. For a skill that will last a lifetime, 25 hours of practice isn’t much – kids can learn in a term or two, or even less if they practice intensively.
Englishtype teaches with a combination of Main Lessons, Extra Lessons, Spelling Lessons, 6 different Games, Speed Booster and TypeTest. Kids love to win gems and outfits for Qwerty the robot – making learning fun and practice time & skill building is painless! Come and try Englishtype.