Today more than ever, children are growing up knowing how to use keyboards-based devices to play and interact. Whether on mum’s tablet or dad’s smartphone, children not older than 2 or 3 years old are already engaging with touchscreen and physical keyboards. But just because their exposure to touch typing keyboards happens early, that doesn’t mean they will develop an efficient typing technique. There’s still a need for formal touch typing training for school-age children.
Touch typing training is neither time-consuming nor difficult to master. The key to successfully teaching children to touch type is to offer them early, efficient touch typing practice and guidance.
Make learning to touch type fun
Smartphone applications, online games, and software offer a wide variety of games and activities that introduce touch typing to young students. Approaching touch typing through play increases the child’s willingness to engage with learning and leads to the desired results.
Games and apps give young students a sense for touch typing within a context that’s friendly, informal and entertaining. Letting kids associate touch typing with fun and play builds the basis for introducing more learning-focused touch typing activities in their practice later on, when they have better motor skills and a longer attention span.
Take advantage of the fact that the child hasn’t yet developed their own hunt-and-peck touch typing habit and use this lack to introduce solid and efficient typing habits. First, take enough time to introduce the keyboard to the young learner. During the familiarization process you can introduce basic rules of ergonomics, regarding the ideal sitting position and wrist placement, monitor distance and height, as well as more to-the-point rules with regard to finger placement on the Home Row keys.
One basic element of successful touch typing for young learners is to reward progress and let the child know that touch typing is a skill that involves a lot of trial and error to get it right. Children are often disappointed by their initial lack of typing accuracy, resulting in them being no longer interested in learning to touch type.
You can avoid this by motivating them through rewards and affirmative talk. This is essential for keeping them inspired to practice until they become good at it.
Even if you choose the best touch typing software out there, it’s still important that you allow ample time for breaks. Each typing training session should last no more than 20 minutes. After 20 minutes of practice, the child will most likely lose interest and get easily distracted.
What’s more, rather than practicing 20 or 30 minutes straight, split the practice into three sessions and in between each session introduce “brain breaks” – a little dance to a song, walking outside for 3 minutes, anything to relax them and help their mind refocus.
Choose a good book, online course, or software
Touch typing success depends on the material you will use to teach your child touch typing. The Internet offers various quality typing games and free activities you can use to teach touch typing. It’s preferable that you avoid books (and even ebooks) for teaching touch typing to kids, however, as these will be looked on as “study” rather than “play.” Instead, opt for an all-in-one software or online course that offers the whole package, including training and games, so that it’s always fun to learn touch typing.
Ventura Educational Systems features educational technology and instructional software for K-12 schools. For more information, click here.
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