With COVID-19 pandemic and its variants, the city has experienced five waves of the infection spike. For kids and students, computers, smart phones, and synchronous communication software have already become necessary tools for their learning everyday.
At the same time, students have changed their practice from handwritten homework to submitting online assignments. Many students and parents should have learned by now from their pandemic fighting experience that typing is as much a survival skill as writing. Students who do not know typing are simply difficult to catch up with their daily learning progress.
Typing has been becoming increasingly important
COVID-19 has accelerated the adoption of learning from home.
There is no doubt that typing has become more and more important in a world with the computer and Internet. According to a report, nowadays a person on average spends three hours a day on things that require typing, such as surfing the Internet, writing emails, WhatsApp, and commenting on social media.
Think about it: How much more time do you spend on typing than writing each day? You may live without the pen at the office, but you are unable to keep on with your work without a computer and keyboard. Many jobs now require word processing skills, in which good typing skill is a must.
Children who learn typing early are just more able to cope with the future learning and working environment.
When should kids start learning to type?
Kids learn typing skills early can facilitate their development
Traditionally, children do not start learning to type until they are in Primary 3. However, with the increasing importance of the computer and the Internet, it is now generally accepted that they can start typing from the age of 5 to 7, and gradually learn typing without looking at the keyboard (touch-typing).
In fact, studies have found that many western countries such as the United States and Germany have included typing in their basic IT curriculum as part of primary education.
The reason is simple: typing is an essential skill for all advanced programming, which is essential in the modern society that emphasizes technological innovation. Other studies have also shown that students who have learned typing are good at problem-solving and dealing with learning problems, because they would not be distracted by typing activities (e.g., looking for keyboard positions and software functions). They also perform better on tests that require typing responses.
Different stages of child development
Kids at different ages can grasp different writing and typing skills
Some experts pointed out that children at different ages can grasp different writing skills: (including typing)
1. Stage 1: at the age of 3 to 4, children can write their names and try to write.
2. Stage 2: at the age of 5 to 7, they can write correctly and begin to use different forms of writing.
3. Stage 3: at the age of 8 to 10, if taught in school kids should have been able to use the keyboard to type skillfully.
Children between the age of 5 and 7, moving on from kindergarten to primary school, is when they begin to learn how to write. Therefore, learning to write and type together can also help children train up their memory muscle and further enhance the learning outcome.
How to start?
Although programming and typing can be practiced hand-in-hand, students must have some typing skills before learning to code. To begin with, kids can start with free online typing training websites.
1. Typing Club
For example, Typing Club is a free website that provides a series of step-by-step instructions and exercises to improve kids' typing skills.
Learning by the self at Typing Club.
2. Monkey Type
Another website is Monkey Type. It provides a speed test to track typing speed. We recommended kids should practice 10 to 15 minutes a day. Children will gradually improve from typing 10+ to 30+ words per minute by the age of 10. If they can type more than 20 words per minute, they can start to learn programming.
Money Type can track your typing speed.
3. Nitro Type
This website provides cool car racing games for kids to learn typing, they can compete with other kids from all around the world by turning their typing speed and performance into ranks in the race.
This website makes typing into a game of fun.
Challenges for children
All the above websites aim at helping kids learn typing happily without stress. Just like writing, it has become a challenge for many parents to make their children sit still and practice typing every day.
I still remember when I was a little boy in elementary school, I had to write a short essay every day and submit it to my mum. And this was not an interesting task to me at all. I just wanted to finish as quickly as possible, then I could go out to play with my friends.
Therefore, as we always say, the best way is to learn through games, and it is even better if parents and children can play together.
Typing and programming, killing two birds with one stone
Therefore, if kids can learn programming soon after learning to type, it is a very good way to facilitate both.
Many modern programming training are tailor-made for children, so they can learn block-based programming at the beginning, such as Scratch, MIT App Inventor, without having to memories the complex code, understand the difficult principles behind, and type as fast as adults. They can encourage children to type without over-practicing.
Moreover, through interesting programming projects, Apps and games, children can enjoy practicing typing and develop their creativity, problem-solving skills, and programming knowledge naturally. They can gain knowledge and satisfaction while practicing typing, and pave the way for future learning.
Kids can pick up typing and programming easily by doing both together.
To sum up, early mastery of typing skills can help kids develop a variety of programming skills and critical thinking concepts that can lead to more significant learning outcomes. Parents can refer to the STEM Explorers and Technologists at Blueinno that focus on teaching programming skills through project-based learning, yet with limited typing ability. Those programming training utilizes block-based programming methods, such as Scratch and MIT App Inventor. Students can learn to program and create their own projects to become a little inventor.
1. Starr, L. (2017). Teaching keyboarding: More than just typing. Education World. Retrieved from https://www.educationworld.com/a_tech/tech/tech072.shtml
2. Wawrzynek, A., & Wawrzynek, K. (2019). Touch typing education in different countries and its connection with court reporting. Retrieved from https://interinfo.pl/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/Krystian-Wawrzynek-Touch-typing.pdf
3. Barkaoui, K. (2014). Examining the impact of L2 proficiency and keyboarding skills on scores on TOEFL-iBT writing tasks. Language Testing, 31(2), 241-259. doi:10.1177/0265532213509810
4. Poole, D., & Preciado, M. (2016). Touch typing instruction: Elementary teachers’ beliefs and practices. Computers & Education, 102, 1-14. doi:10.1016/j.compedu.2016.06.008