Help Young Children Read With Typing Games October 14 2010
It doesn't seem at first that typing would be a good exercise for younger children. They may not recognize simple words or even letters and numbers when it comes to a computer keyboard.
My five-year-old had observed his older brother typing a story during their computer time at home. Of course, wanting to be just like his big brother, my son insisted on at least trying to type. I set him up on a typing game even though I wasn't sure how it was going to go.
I was surprised to find that instead of the frustration I was expecting, my five-year-old was able to play and enjoy simple keyboarding games. While I watched his progress, I began to realize the many advantages of younger children practicing keyboarding skills.
For younger children, the first time at the computer keyboard for a typing game should not be a lesson in how to correctly place your fingers on Home Row. Open a text document before logging into a keyboarding game and let children explore the different keys, including letters, numbers, punctuation and the space bar. I found that when my son wanted to know how to type the simple sight words he's been learning, he would ask and I could show him. Since it was on his timetable, he didn't become overwhelmed.
Left to Right
To those of us who have been reading for years, it might seem obvious to point out to young children that reading in our culture goes from the left to the right. If your young child is still learning to read, the idea that typing is left to right might be new. Typing games work on forming words (nonsensical or otherwise) in the direction that we read.
Letting younger children become familiar with a keyboard give them the advantage of that technological skill while they're still learning the letters of the alphabet. Letter identification becomes a game, with your child wondering where to find a letter and having to hunt for it.
In addition, letters are written in capitals on a computer keyboard. Children need to process finding the capital letters and translate that knowledge into typing lower-case letters in many typing games. This transfer of knowledge also helps reinforce the correct formation of the lowercase b and d, which can be tricky for young children.
One of the nice things about typing games is that they don't last incredibly long. There are many keyboarding games to choose from for a variety of age levels, and some games finish faster than others. Shorter games appropriate for young children can work on overcoming low frustration levels and building success in small doses.
Keyboarding skills do not have to be taught in a vacuum. They can actually help you add another dimension to your reading instruction while providing some fun at the same time!