As someone who writes blogs as part of her job, I feel my words-per-minute more than most. I can pinpoint my early typing skills to particular summer I spent at a cousin’s house, stumbling inside out of the heat and falling into playing Stickybear Typing on their Apple II. This was during the era between electric typewriters and computer labs; computers were word processors and toys, not the educational, creative, data-collecting and professional powerhouses they are today.
Learning to type became just as crucial as learning to swim that summer, and it was a turning point in my confidence level and the way I put my ideas to work. I didn’t know it at the time because it was a game and I enjoyed it, but that summer spent typing was a game changer in my school and professional life.
Nowadays, kids learn their letters by the shape, sound, and where they are located on the QWERTY keyboard. How well they learn them, and how fast they can type them, could very well determine how well they do in school, how well they interact with others, and how well they communicate with the world at large.
Keyboarding gets their motor running.
And by this we mean motor skills. Keyboarding requires an artful application of fine and gross motor skills—locate keys by touch, applying just the right pressure when striking, and moving on to the next. It’s a common action those of us can do it take for granted; we simply think and the words seem to appear effortlessly on the page. The truth is, typing is a much more physical exertion, and one that requires constant practice, like playing an instrument or a sport, to maximize efficiency, accuracy, and confidence.
Keyboarding gets juices flowing.
This is where making keyboarding a part of early and ongoing curriculum just makes sense. Just like providing technology in the classroom on a one-to-one or shared basis is important to closing the digital divide for all kids, teaching keyboarding removes yet another barrier between inspiration and innovation. The faster kids can translate thoughts into sentences, sentences to words, words to letters, and letters into keys, the easier it becomes for them to use technology to express themselves, find what they are looking for, create what they mean to, and present what they intended.
Keyboarding makes coding possible.
While coding will likely be a part of daily existence for our future workforce, it is simply another language our kids must learn to type. Basic computer skills start with typing, even in a touch screen environment. While Chromebooks and Windows10 laptops are becoming more and more hands-on with stylus pens and on-screen interactive elements, those advancements just give us more ways to use our hands to navigate the technological landscape.
Keyboarding apps and software abound, thank goodness, and the best ones, like Typing Instructor and UltraKey, teach children the correct finger-to-key movement as well as variety, drills, and tips on posture and how to improve accuracy speed. There are also typing programs geared for the younger set—Mickey’s Typing Adventure and Garfield’s Typing Pal, to name two good ones—that offer simple, fun, personalized games for the best results.
In the end, keyboarding makes students more proficient in educational technologies and the opportunities that come with them. The more exposure children get to a keyboard and what they can do with it, the faster and better they can learn.