Review of Read, Write & Type from Talking Fingers, Inc.

My 5-year-old son was so excited to review a one-year subscription to Read, Write & Type from Talking Fingers, Inc. He has been wanting to read, but he also has struggled with using a keyboard on the computer. This learning tool has helped him in both areas, and he has been having fun doing it!

The program is completely online and is designed to help kids develop phonics skills needed to read, write, and communicate effectively. My son really did find the activities to be engaging, not at all boring, and even a little silly, too! He was immediately required to find keys on the keyboard to type, and since he usually struggles for a very long time in "finding" keys, this program helped him get to the point where he knew where all the letters (as well as the space bar, enter, etc.) were located.

I should note that he wasn't following any kind of formal reading program prior to using this. He was just playing language arts games and reading his own books by using the pictures. The Read, Write & Type program, however, uses our favorite way of learning to read, which is by using Phonemes to sound out each sound in a word, not just each letter. Then, each sound is tied to a letter on the keyboard, giving kids a multi-sensory way to sear that information into their brain. They use their eyes, ears, mouths, and fingers! It's very effective, and I saw a dramatic improvement in reading retention with my son after just a week of use (about five separate 30-minute session.)

My son is always asking to "do school." He really likes the program. In addition to some games and songs, it really works well to hold his attention. It seems to work well for all learning types, which means that is can help an audio, visual, or tactile learner just as well.

The characters, while silly, have him looking forward to the program. The bad guy is always challenging him to activities, where my son has to compete. He loves it when he wins! (This activity below is an example.)

There is equal emphasis on phonetic sounds of all parts of the word. Instead of just knowing that an apple starts with "a", the program also teaches kids that the middle part of "pig" is important, as well as the end of "kick."

The program doesn't wait until all the beginning sounds are mastered before introducing the rest. That has helped my son learn evenly and move beyond just "cat, bat, rat" that you'd expect from a program at his age. He's learning longer words with 2 and 3-letter blends at just the same pace. It's pretty exciting to hear him read longer sentences at his age, since many of my kids didn't start "getting" reading until later.

I should note that this is also a "keyboarding" course that is best used with younger kids who haven't already developed bad "hunt and peck" habits. My son's hard are small, so he still struggled with using proper typing form. I wasn't as concerned with it, however, as he was finding the letters easily, and even with just using one finger on each hand to type, it was preferred over him getting very frustrated and taking a great deal of time to find each key. I'm sure that with continued use, his typing "form" will improve. I'm more concerned with the phonics, reading, and writing benefits we are seeing, although I'm confident, as his motor skills develop, we'll see a more finished result from the typing instruction, as well.

My son looks forward to using this program every day, and -- for the most part -- I let him. It's not only a good way to learn reading, it's a reward for him to do his other work. He loves it so much, and I'm pleased to see all of the progress he's making. He's excited to learn to read and write!

Find out more about Talking Fingers and their program at their website, on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.