A few years ago, two of my son’s older cousins from Canada gifted him with a PlayStation and all sorts of video games. Football, baseball, volleyball, auto racing, and all sorts of army games, etc. Of course my son was thrilled.
When my son has friends over for a weekend sleepover, the little band of mischief-monkeys usually start out in the heavily treed back garden. We live in the country, so there’s a lot to occupy a group of young energetic boys. They’ll be out there climbing trees, on secret missions by their fort way out in the back, having water fights, or shooting their bb guns and ketties.
(kettie = slingshot, for those of you in other parts of the world)
But when it gets dark, I make them a bowl of popcorn, and they gather around the t.v. and play video games until they fall asleep. They always make these grand statements about how they’re going to stay up all night playing games. I don’t have to worry about them staying up too late though, because they’re usually so pooped from running around in the yard all afternoon that they zonk out pretty early, often with video controller still in hand. Of course, they’re also up at the crack of dawn, ready to do it all over again.
The Long Term Value Of Learning A New Skill
Both of my son’s Canadian cousins are older now; working professionals. One of them is a corporate executive, and when we were visiting Canada for Christmas a couple of years ago, he had his laptop out, working on some sort of project for work. His keyboard skills and speed were impressive.
He grew up on the family farm, and was also very much an outdoorsy boy who excelled at sports. But his mom, a school teacher, realised that we’re living in a technological world, and so took the time to equip him with skills that would be beneficial for his future in a world now immersed in technology. So by the time he graduated from high school, he could drive a combine during harvest, help fix a tractor, and take care of the cattle. He could also type 80 wpm.
That skill paid him large dividends in university. Being able to do his homework and write essays quickly saved time and made him a more efficient student. He chuckles about how in the corporate world, many of his peers, especially the older men, struggle to find and peck their way through even a simple memo, let alone a business report.
In the competitive fast paced corporate world, having that skill is a small edge, and it is one that my husband and I have decided to give our children. The kids may not choose a corporate career path; that’s up to them to decide. But it’s our job as parents to equip them as best we can for life once they’re out on their own.
We tell our kids all the time: having effective skills is like having keys. The more skills you have, the more doors you’ll be able to open, and the more choices you’ll have in what you want to do with your life.
In high school, there’s the option of taking an elective typing class, which is perfectly fine; that’s how I did it. But we decided our kids will be better served by choosing elective classes that will strengthen their academic plans for the future, and they can learn typing skills at home. For example, my daughter is in high school and is taking extra economics classes. And though our son is not yet in high school, he still works on his typing skills every day.
How do you get a 12 year old boy to get the least bit interested in typing? In his after-school hours?! Well, first explain that both his Canadian cousins, whom he really admires and looks up to, are excellent typists, and it hasn’t hurt their masculinity a bit.
Second, we found a teach-typing video game. It isn’t quite the kind of video game he’s used to; the graphics are not as flashy, and there isn’t as much action. But it is affordable, and it’s working for us. All we told him is that he has to play it for twenty minutes a day, five days a week.
Since, for the most part, he’s only allowed to play his real video games on the weekends, he eagerly took us up on the offer. And it works. I don’t even have to remind him. In fact, he often asks me to come over and watch him clear a level….and each level is cleared by him quickly typing words onto the screen, with points added if he has no spelling mistakes.
His typing skills are improving, and he’s having fun learning. Score!!