It Worked for Us – BBC Typing School (Ages 7 – 11)

BBC has an online typing program for kids ages 7 to 11, Dance Mat Typing. I thought I’d go ahead and give it a plug as it worked for us.

H.o.p. began the lessons last year but his interest collapsed. He started them again this year back in November or December and finished them, this time serious about it, on his own initiative. He would even have me drape a towel over his hands so that he would learn how to type without being tempted to look at the keypad.

He now periodically returns for practice, again on his own initiative. No, he’s no speed demon. In fact, he’s very slow at it. But how many weeks later and he hasn’t let any of what he learned lapse, his hands are always in position, and he doesn’t have to hunt and peck.

I didn’t pick up learning to type until I was around 11 and did it on my own as it was better than long hand, but it was a difficult trial of hunt and peck that turned into a two finger style until I took a year (or was it a half year) of typing in 10th grade, which was grueling and involved a lot of

Now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of their country.

The story is this phrase was chosen because it fills out a 70 space line.

Do you believe that is why?

I don’t believe that is why.

Seriously, we were a room full of kids typing every day (or every other day) for an hour, “Now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of their country”, multiplied how many times over every day in how many classrooms.

Yes, yes, I know that it is said to be the sentence devised to test the speed of the first typewriter, in 1867, during a terribly exciting political campaign, and that it was originally, “Now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of the party”, or so it was written by Charles E. Weller in his “The Early History of the Typewriter” in 1918.


Is that REALLY how we got from a speed test on the first typewriter in 1867 to every child in America (probably) typing it repeatedly in typing class for how many years? Is that all there was to it?

“Men and women, this was the first speed typing phrase, kind of, and thus it is that from now until _________ the speed of typing shall be tested by this phrase.”


“Because it fills 70 spaces and we must all those 70 spaces fill with a phrase that uses every letter of the alphabet.”

“But it doesn’t use every letter of the alphabet.”

“Yes, well, blame it on the quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog absconding with the rest of them.”

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Juli Kearns

Juli Kearns is the author of Thunderbird and the Ball of Twine and Unending Wonders of a Subatomic World (or) In Search of the Great Penguin. She is also an artist/photographer, and the person behind the web alter of "Idyllopus Press".

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