Monday, January 12, 2015

Do your kids go to elementary school? Chances are high then that they are not learning the skill that they actually sorely need to learn – using a computer keyboard and learning to type. In this post I will share some resources on teaching kids to type.
Resources for Introducing Typing and Keyboarding Skills to Kids

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Why Teach Younger Kids to Type?

Typing used to be something reserved for middle or even high school. Of course, with the arrival of home computers almost every child learned to use keyboard at home with some degree of proficiency by then, but typing speed was not a consideration. Now, however, the situation is somewhat different. Earlier in the year we were informed that this year end of year testing will be computerized. As far as I know, in Common Core testing the students are expected to explain their reasoning, which is more than just selecting the right answer from multiple choice questions. When I inquired recently during our Home and School club meeting whether students will be taught typing, I was looked at funny and told, We expect our students of Silicon Valley to learn typing at home. Umm… say what? This expectation was never formally communicated to us. Unlike many other local parents, we deliberately limit access to electronic devices at home, so our daughter can spend time in hands-on activities. Nevertheless, we now have to focus on teaching our 8 year old to type with reasonable degree of confidence, so she is not handicapped while taking computer based tests in spring.

When to Start?

There are several reasons we didn’t want to teach our daughter to type earlier. For once, she is tiny for her age, and her hands didn’t have enough reach for a full size keyboard. Secondly, as I said previously, we don’t want her to spend her free time glued to the screens. But most importantly, we wanted her writing skills reach the point of fluency, so she wouldn’t be motivated to quit handwriting in favor of keyboarding. That said, if your child has some fine motor delays, typing might help him or her overcome their dislike of expressing themselves in writing. In general, I think that age 7 or 8 is the right age to start looking at computer keyboard in more detail and to help kids move from pecking to typing.

How to Teach Kids Typing?

Keyboarding Programs
A couple of years ago I just happened to be reading the right post at the right time and downloaded Typing Instructor for Kids when it was free on Amazon. Since we already have this Windows software which got excellent reviews, and our daughter has a Windows-based laptop, we will be trying it out to learn typing. However, there are multiple free programs available to teach typing to kids (and adults). Mama OT has an excellent overview of keyboarding programs for kids (many of which are free), and she also has a sensible advice of testing different approaches to see which one will work for your student or students. My friend Ticia from Adventures in Mommydom got her daughter hooked on a paid software TypeKids and wrote a detailed review explaining the benefits of Typekids.
As you see, it’s not that hard to find a program to teach your kids to type, but the challenge is to stick with it. Like with any other activity, the trick is in sustained practice, and it means finding time and space for this activity in our already busy schedules. I find myself wishing that typing was taught during school hours and not delegated to parents. I still wouldn’t mind practicing it at home, but {begin rant} I believe that Common Core curriculum should have accommodated keyboarding practice right into mainstream language art curriculum if they expect students to use keyboards for testing {end rant}. Anyway, I expect that Smarty will be delighted to learn to type as she is generally attracted to computer activities. I will provide an update in a month or so to let my readers know how things are going.

More Info on Getting Kids Comfortable with Computers?

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Ticia said...

It's the getting it done daily that always hangs me up.....

Don't even get me started on Common Core.....

An Almost Unschooling Mom said...

I noticed that, last year, while working in a school. Many of the kids could not really take the tests I was supposed to be giving them, because they couldn't type well enough to complete the questions within the time allowed. It was frustrating. We have used Garfield Typing at home with good success for all of the kids.

maryanne @ mama smiles said...

This is an important life skill. My kids do it at school, but I need them to practice at home to get up to speed.

BlogTanya WS said...

Thank you for sharing this post in our "A Little Bird Told Me" Link Party! :) The Natural Homeschool