Although typewriters were first used in business offices, it wasn’t long before teachers started introducing them into the classroom. As a new method of communication, typing was seen as a useful skill for future career development, although at first most of that was also in a business setting, for people who would become secretaries and office workers. However, even though many schools offered (or required) typing classes, and even though studies showed that students who used typewriters for their writing often showed better English skills, improved spelling, and more fluent writing, in general classwork was still done by hand.
Today, more and more schools are using computers in the classroom, and even inviting children to bring their own handheld devices to school. There are software games and lessons designed for children as young as 3 years old, and even babies as young as 6 months old have their own computer games using the keyboard! Obviously, the answer to the question “Is my child too young to learn to type?” is “No!” – with a few explanations, that is.
Very young children won’t enjoy being forced to repeat key-letter matching over and over. They’ll learn best if they’re learning unconsciously while playing a game. Babies don’t generally have the hand-eye coordination to accurately hit small keys on a keyboard one at a time, much less in letter combinations that form words. Let them learn where things are on the keyboard at their own pace until they’re able to deliberately locate and press specific keys.
Children who don’t know their alphabet won’t move forward as quickly, even if they can match keys and letters. Don’t forget to focus on reading, spelling, and general literacy skills so that their comprehension keeps up with their keyboarding abilities.
Although it’s important to start as soon as possible with lessons on proper typing technique, such as learning the home row keys or how to use the thumb to press the space bar, most kids won’t have the patience for more than a few minutes of instruction of this sort. Look for fun and engaging typing games that will encourage kids to use the right techniques without making it seem like a chore.
The easiest way to get kids to learn to use the keyboard correctly is to make sure that they’ve got games and videos that require accurate keystrokes. Look for games that use the keyboard letters and/or numeric keypad keys instead of the mouse or a joystick. If you can find software that also teaches spelling or reading skills, even better!
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