Typing apps for kids are meeting the need of helping parents to teach their kids how to use a keyboard. The layout, how to move your fingers and how much force to use whilst tapping the keys are all skills children can learn and master with a bit of practice. Teaching them the correct way to navigate a keyboard will stand them in good stead throughout their education and into their adult life.
Whilst children can be introduced to a keyboard informally at any age through play, it is generally considered appropriate for children to learn to type around the ages of 6 to 7 years of age, as this is when their hands are usually big enough to navigate a standard keyboard.
Most keyboards, whether they are a physical keyboard, on a tablet or smartphone have the same layout. The QWERTY layout, so-called because of the order of the first six-letter keys on the top left row of the keyboard, was devised in the early 1870’s and has stuck around all these years.
Some keyboards may include additional keys, though most will contain between 80 and 110 keys, broken up into the following categories:
Function Keys: Usually positioned on the top row of a keyboard eg. F1, F2, F3 etc
Typewriter Keys: These make up the bulk of a standard keyboard containing letters, numbers and punctuation symbols
Cursor/Control Keys: These arrow keys control the direction of the cursor. Other keys in the category include delete, home, end, page up and page down.
Numeric Keypad: This area of the keyboard contains keys wit h a similar layout to that of a calculator and is commonly used in professions such as bank tellers, accountants etc
The ‘home row’ is the main row of keys, in regard to the positioning of hands. The F and J keys have tiny raised bumps on them, which is where the index fingers should be placed. The four fingers on the left hand should rest of the ASDF keys, whilst the right-hand fingers should lay on the JKL: keys.
Down the track, if you are looking to master touch typing, this positioning is vital, as it is from this resting position that fingers move either up, down or perhaps a little sideways to access the rest of the keyboard.
Keyboards for Young Children
When first introducing young children to a keyboard perhaps start with an old keyboard or laptop. Even if it is not plugged in, they can use it to familiarise themselves with the layout and feel of the keys. Initially, children may be unsure of how much pressure they need to apply to the keys, so this is a great way to allow them to try out different levels of force without wrecking your expensive keyboard.
Simple activities could include:
- asking children to find particular letters on the keyboard
- typing out the whole alphabet
- learning to type their own name
- typing simple words eg. Mum, dad, cat, dog etc
- typing text from their favourite book
Developing Keyboard Skills
Developing keyboard skills will take time and is something that should be practiced regularly to reinforce the behaviour. As with many skills children are trying to master, making learning fun, casual and varied will go a long way in helping to keep their attention and build on these newly acquired skills.
Below are some examples of both free and paid programs which can assist in developing proficient keyboard skills in children.
Free Learn to Type Apps
Paid Learn to Type Programs
Similar typing resources
Keyboard Health and Safety
As with any technology-based activities, it is important to consider health and safety issues that could present themselves. Some things to keep in mind include:
- Keeping the keyboard clean (wipe down with antiseptic wipes)
- No food or drinks near the keyboard
- Take regular breaks
- Learn some stretches for hands, wrists and neck
- Consider posture – sit up straight with feet flat and uncrossed on the floor, body centred with the middle of the keyboard and elbows by your side.