Guest Post by: Chassie Lee
Your day is already full of things you’re required to teach to your second-grade students. They’re focused on learning how to print letters and spell words correctly, filling page after wide-ruled page with their newly-learned vocabulary. Some of your students are still having trouble with reading simple texts, much less writing them out – and you haven’t even started the lessons on cursive handwriting. So why would you want to take time away from these basic skills to teach your class how to use a computer keyboard to type their words instead? Because it’s a skill they’ll need in the future, and that future is as close as their next school year.
The new Common Core tests for English Language Arts and general writing skills are computer-based. Starting in the third grade, students will need to know how to use a mouse, how to navigate through computer screens, and how to type longer text passages. While the younger grades will still be able to get by with point-and-click selection and easier fill-in-the-blank test questions, third-graders need to be able to type in their own answers to questions. By the fourth grade, each student is expected to be able to type a full page without stopping; in the fifth grade, that’s increased to two pages, and by sixth grade every student must be able to type at least three pages in one session at the computer. The longer it takes for them to type out their texts and test answers, the less time they’ll have to think about the questions they’re trying to answer.
It’s easy to assume that children already know how to use a keyboard to type, because many children own and use tablets and smartphones on a daily basis. A recent study by The NPD Group confirms that the majority of US families own at least one smartphone, and as NPD states in their report titled “Kids and CE: 2014,” a third of those families said that their children use smartphones. However, while devices like tables and smartphones will help children get familiar with using the internet and computer hardware and software in general, it doesn’t help them learn how to type on a keyboard. Even if they see the standard QWERTY layout on a smartphone screen, they’re using their thumbs to select the letters, and the auto-complete feature eliminates the need to type complete words. This isn’t going to help when these children are put in front of a computer to take an online exam using a full keyboard.
Fortunately, there are time-efficient and cost-effective ways to introduce keyboarding in your classroom. When you use professionally-designed typing tutor software that combines kid-friendly games with touch typing instruction, you won’t have to develop your own course outlines or typing tests. Depending on the software, you may even be able to let most of the class work on their own, while you focus on helping the students who are having the most trouble.
Look for touch typing software that is suitable for children of any age, so that your students will want to continue to improve their typing skills over the next few years. Since they’ll have to use the computer for online research and writing assignments all the way through high school, their typing skills need to keep up with their class requirements. If your school is looking for a way to teach keyboarding at all grade levels, pick a software product that can be scaled to the size of the student population each year, and one that allows each teacher to manage their own students by grade, by class grouping, and one on one.
By teaching your students to master touch typing early on, you’ll help them get the skills they need to master the tests and exams they’ll be facing in the future, and you’ll prepare them to enter a job market where nearly everyone is required to use touch typing to communicate and collaborate.
About the Author: Chassie Lee is the Content Expert for eReflect – creator of Ultimate Typing EDU which is currently being used by tens of thousands of happy customers in over 110 countries.