A child born in the 21st century comes into a world where there have always been mobile phones, e-readers, computers, and the global information resources available through an internet connection. With software designed for babies as young as six months old, and parents turning to online resources to entertain their kids, some children will start using a computer keyboard before they pick up a pencil to learn to write. Given that good typing skills help people of any age get the most out of their computer connections, it’s a good idea to help children learn the best way to type as soon as they start using the keyboard. Here are some suggestions for teaching children good typing habits:
Help them with posture. “Sit up straight!” isn’t something that parents need to say just at the dinner table, but also at the study desk. We’ve talked before about the importance of the correct sitting position for typing, and how bad placement and posture can lead to muscle pain and even injury. Good posture at the keyboard is even more important for children, whose bones and muscles are still growing. Help them learn the right position for typing, and prevent problems before they start.
Help them with hand position. Children’s hands are smaller, which might make it awkward for them to reach some of the keys on standard keyboard without moving their hands off the home row. On the other hand, they’ll have an advantage on laptops and netbooks with smaller keyboards. You’ll need to explain why it’s important to keep the right hand position, because most kids will think it just makes more sense to use whatever fingers they want to hit the keys. Again, helping develop typing skills at this age creates good habits, so work with children to get them through this first stage of keyboard training.
Help them enjoy the process. Games are a great way to teach kids to type. There are free typing games designed for children that help develop both speed and accuracy. As a parent, you can also come up with games and quizzes for typing practice. Read out a list of words to type, slowly at first and then speeding up. Use names of objects and people familiar to the child, or words related to a special interest like sports or animals. Remember to keep it fun by keeping the sessions short, and provide a healthy treat as a reward. After a while, the reward of being a good typist will be enough to keep them practicing!
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