Is typing a skill that we need to teach kids when they are young, or later in school, or can they be left to pick it up on their own? Typing is an important skill. That much is clear. When children learn their way around a keyboard they become better communicators. A child who learns touch typing — not just how to hunt and peck at the keyboard, may develop better writing habits as well. Teach Them to Type Early: Age should not be a major factor in deciding if a child is ready to learn touch typing. By age 7 or 8, children have the finger span and motor skills to type, so there is no reason to wait until middle school or high school, though this is still acceptable. And some school systems do teach typing. Regardless of how children learn to type, this skill brings many benefits.
Typing Develops Useful Skills: Typing practice can help children learn to write more effectively, and can help children with motor coordination problems express themselves more effectively. Since children have the ability to pick up typing at a young age, it makes sense to introduce them to this fundamental skill sooner rather than later. Writing is an important success skill in college, in graduate school, and in many career fields. Being a fast typist is helpful both for brainstorming (typing is faster than writing by hand) and for time management. Touch typing practice may also translate to better spelling and grammar. Typing practice also helps improve “visual motor integration” in children who are old enough to type effectively, according to Michelle Yoder, an occupational therapist and founder of Touchstone Therapy. Yoder also notes that typing practice can help children overcome some development challenges. Children with dysgraphia, an inability to write coherently due to brain damage or disease, can find that typing is easier for them. Motor coordination difficulties seem to be less of a problem when typing versus handwriting. Where schools no longer teach typing, parents can step in. Keyboarding Practice Should Start Early: Typing is a critical skill for clear communication. Being a slow typist is an issue in school, and in many jobs. Early practice on a keyboard helps a child become a better writer, not just a faster one. Children who are too young for typing practice can benefit from playing with a keyboard, so they learn where the keys are and how to hold their hands when they type. Students should be able to learn typing in school, but that tends not to be reality. In short, children benefit greatly from learning to type whether they learn in school or at home on their computers. ♦