This video has some useful tips, tricks, and ideas to get children started keyboarding who may not be ready to touch type.

I’m a great believer in ensuring that children know their way around a keyboard very early on: from 7 years old ideally; though it’s generally believed that they may not have the motor coordination or finger span to truly touch type until about seven or 8 years of age.
However, children of any age can begin exploring keyboards, letters, and screens.  It is an essential 21st century skill that people don’t learn automatically: they need instruction and practice.

Learning to type saves enormous amounts of time and enables us to communicate more proficiently and effectively; cognitive automaticity. With typing we are freed from the slowness of handwriting, allowing us to get our ideas down at the speed of thought.  I haven’t written by hand for years, except for my signature and the odd shopping list.

Ultimately, typing for authentic reasons is the aim but children benefit from a touch typing course (we use BBC Dance Mat as it’s free) where they learn to type without having to compose at the same time.

It is said that 8 year olds can write between 14 – 17 words per minute; with regular practice a child that age could be able to type about 30 words per minute. Devoting 10 minutes once or twice a day is the most efficient method; and it can help children focus in the morning or after lunch or at home. That tiny amount of time can have great payoff by the end of the year.
Along with learning the keystrokes it’s important to emphasize good posture, choosing the right height of chair, taking breaks every 5 minutes, moving and looking away from the screen, etc.

We also need to make time to teach all children (as we tend to do with learners with dyslexia already) the skills of planning and organising a dictated composition. Typing may well be regarded as outdated as handwriting in a few years time when voice recognition software is ubiquitous.  For many of course, much writing is performed on hand held devices with thumbs alone.

I suspect, though, that individuals will choose what style of ‘writing’ suits them best as long as they have the knowledge and understanding of the benefits of all methods of different forms of communication and access to all available tools – and the flexibility to explore new ones that we haven’t even thought of yet.
Thanks to the innovative educator blog for the stimulus.