My son’s school gives no instruction in keyboarding. So children are expected to pick up this vital skill during the summer by using one of the many online keyboarding programs. My children (grades 4 and 5) made little progress last summer. How can I help them do better this year?
As we all know, today’s children spend a lot of time on the computer. What we really want is for them to learn how to keyboard before they develop their own peculiar, hunt-and-peck method. The Tennessee Department of Education, in referencing the Common Core State Standards, first mentions keyboard skills in grade 3 and expects by grade 6 that students “have a level of keyboarding skills so they can type a minimum of three pages in a single setting.”
There are a number of free keyboarding programs online. A few we like include:
A tutorial gives step-by-step guidance. Site is also easy to navigate (don’t let the messy home page deter you). Site includes several free typing games.
A program that helps children learn hand and finger placement on the keyboard with basic typing practice. (We also like the Elvis-esque character.)
Keyboard Climber • tvokids.com/games/keyboardclimber
This teaches students which hand to use and where letters live on the keyboard.
Many of these sites also include games that can motivate children to learn to keyboard. You can use a search engine to investigate programs and choose one that offers a sound educational approach. You might also ask your children’s teachers for names of keyboard instruction programs they like. Then, to ensure that your children learn to keyboard this summer, plan to set aside a certain time each day in which they concentrate on learning keyboarding skills.
Do not expect your young children to become expert at keyboarding overnight. Remember how long it took you as a teenager to learn to type. If you took a typing class in high school, it probably lasted a semester. Some young children might struggle with fine motor skills.
How soon children need to become proficient at keyboarding also depends on the individual school. The state standards suggests some proficiency by sixth grade. As for individual schools, have your child’s teachers spell out exactly what skills your student will need to have now and over the next year.
You can get a general idea of the computer skills children need at each level in grades K-8 by visiting the website hw21summit.com and looking for “The New Proposed PreK-8 Written-Language Production Standard.” This list was developed in 2012 by educators and researchers at an Educational Summit in Handwriting in the 21st Century.