When should kids learn to type?
Because computers are everywhere these days, most kids are exposed to typing at a very early age. But when it comes to sitting down in front of the keyboard, when should kids learn to type?
From when you should introduce typing for kids to fun kids' typing games, get the scoop on how typing benefits kids when introduced at the right age.
What age can kids learn to type?
You may be eager to get your little learner typing at hyper-speed, but the general consensus is that kids gain the finger span and motor coordination to touch type around 7 and 8 years old. "A child is developmentally ready to learn typing in 4th grade," shares Michelle Yoder, pediatric occupational therapist and owner of Touchstone Therapy. "Typing requires the ability to isolate fingers and have a nice Palmer arch," she adds. However, that doesn't mean you have to postpone jumping on the typing train until the upper grades — kindergarten-aged kiddos can still practice on keyboard printouts to learn where letters are laid out and which finger is responsible for which column of keys.
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Benefits of typing for kids
While it's obvious that learning to type saves time, allowing your youngster's dictation to keep up with the speed of his or her thoughts, "typing does improve visual motor integration as the eyes guide the hands," explains Yoder. The Thames Valley District School Board reports that typing skills foster skill development in writing, spelling and even grammar — extending to all areas of education. For kids with motor skills challenges, teaching them typing may be even more beneficial. "For children with dysgraphia, typing is often easier because of their motor coordination difficulties. Typing is a solution for getting thoughts on paper," says Yoder.
Fun typing games online
Before you turn typing into a chore, consider letting kids master the keyboard with games that focus on teaching typing for kids. Explore some of the following kids' typing games that offer fun activities focused on your child's typing level.
- TypeRacer.com is a fun and free way to expose your kids to typing games, but is also a safe environment to compete against other online users in a race-style lesson.
- Learninggamesforkids.com offers a page filled with keyboarding games that make typing fun for kids.
- Slimekids.com offers typing games so fun they almost hide the fact that kids are practicing typing at all.
- ABCya.com is an educational game site for kids ages kindergarten through 5th grade that offers a single typing game that varies based on the level you choose for your youngster to play.
- Funtotype.com features kids' typing games similar to popular game apps like fruit ninja.
- Dance Mat Typing takes on a more educational angle, but still offers fun for kids learning to type.
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While kids should learn to type in elementary school — whether through traditional typing lessons or kids' typing games — it's important to understand that typing for kids should not replace handwriting skills all together. "We cannot deny that we are in the digital age. So, once children become fluent writers, they are also going to have to learn to type," says Yoder. "However, recent research shows that [different] areas of the brain are highlighted on scans when writing as opposed to typing. Therefore, prior to 4th grade, learning proper handwriting with a combination of sensory experiences is the best way to improve hand-eye coordination and build hand strength."