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June 1, 2015 12:09 PM   Subscribe

At what age can a child learn to touch type?

I just got a new MacBook. My daughter (almost 7) asked if she can have/use my old one. I'm fine with that (if I can get it working a little less sluggishly), but some of the letters on the keys are worn off. So that got me wondering...can a child learn to touch type? I didn't learn touch typing until 8th grade typing class, but I don't know if it wasn't offered until 8th grade due to reasons of physical and mental development or due to other factors.

Does anyone have knowledge about or personal experience with children learning how to touch type on a computer keyboard? I don't think the size of the keyboard will be an issue because the MacBook keyboard seems relatively small. My question is more about whether a 7 year old child in general would have the physical and mental capability to do it.
posted by Dansaman to Education (20 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Oh geez, I could touch type, at least rudimentarily, by 7. We had a Mavis Beacon section in computer lab in 3rd grade (so like 1992 or 1993) and I basically got to skip it and play games, which was super sweet. There are a million "learn to type" programs available now. As long as she can read and spell and all that it shouldn't be a problem.
posted by brainmouse at 12:13 PM on June 1, 2015 [2 favorites]

There are definitely programs designed to enable younger children to touch type. I haven't got experience with children quite as young as your daughter, but I am a teacher and some 9 and 10-year old children in my class have been learning to touch type, as part of an 'extra skills' intervention group they do.
posted by schmoo at 12:15 PM on June 1, 2015

Mavis Beacon for Kids is marketed for age 7 and up. I would assume that if she has big enough hands this sort of learning would, like language, be easier for younger kids than older.
posted by Wretch729 at 12:16 PM on June 1, 2015

We were taught touch typing (Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing!) in elementary school... maybe third grade? I could regularly type around 60 WPM at that age, so it's definitely possible.
posted by backseatpilot at 12:16 PM on June 1, 2015

I didn't learn till I was 12 but cognitively I don't see any reason why a kid that age couldn't learn the basics of touch typing, especially since there are lots of games out now to help the process. I think the main issue might be hand size--can she put her hands comfortably on the keyboard in the "neutral" position (ASDF and JKL:) and hit some of the reach keys without difficulty? (e.g., capital T, which requires you to use SHIFT and the letter).
posted by The Elusive Architeuthis at 12:16 PM on June 1, 2015

Also, though, there are stickers designed to go on macbook keyboards, if you just want to re-up the printing of the letters. Etsy has roughly a million options. I like this one for a 7-year-old.
posted by brainmouse at 12:18 PM on June 1, 2015 [2 favorites]

I think that the schools routinely teach typing in third grade now. It is probably easier to learn to type than to play piano and many kids your daughters age can learn beginning piano. At seven, it would depend on your child's personal ability - how is she doing at hand-eye coordination, learning to read, motivation and focus for learning to type. If she is doing fine on all of those things, then definitely give it try using when one of the many learn to type programs in around.

In my experience, you want to give them lots of incentives and encouragement for doing the typing games up to about 10 wpm. so they really learn the fingering. If she can get up to 10 wpm then the benefits of touch typing vs hunt and peck will take over and she will continue to improve without as much structure (or, my kids' case, bribes)
posted by metahawk at 12:20 PM on June 1, 2015 [1 favorite]

I was touch typing (and using Mavis Beacon!) by 7.
posted by Jairus at 12:21 PM on June 1, 2015 [1 favorite]

Mavis for me around that age, too. A+ would install again.
posted by Stacey at 12:26 PM on June 1, 2015 [1 favorite]

I had learned to touchtype with some program on a ColecoVision computer by the time I was about 7; I remember going into typing class at school at age 9 and the teacher telling me I could just write whatever I wanted on the computers because I was more adept than he. Then I got Mavis Beacon and the car race game really helped drive the skills home.
posted by synecdoche at 12:27 PM on June 1, 2015

I learned with Mavis when I was about 11, wish it would have been younger, though.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 12:29 PM on June 1, 2015

I learned to touch type around ten or eleven, using Quick Brown Fox.
posted by thomas j wise at 12:42 PM on June 1, 2015

I started learning at 6 or 7.
posted by mchorn at 12:54 PM on June 1, 2015

I didn't actually commit to learning to touch type until I was 11 and we had it as a class in the 7th grade; however, I had started learning (and been successful until I got bored and stopped) from when I was around your daughter's age. Even before I was touch typing using the method we're all taught, I definitely knew where the keys were and didn't hunt and peck. I agree with the people who say that hand size would be the biggest barrier to a kid learning to touch type (at least formally), but I suspect your daughter will be fine.

That said, though, I second the poster above who suggested getting fun keyboard stickers. I would have loved having a fun and colorful keyboard at that age.
posted by naturalog at 1:01 PM on June 1, 2015

My niece learned to read when she was about two and a half and she started touch typing not long after -- also using Mavis Beacon. Oh! And Typing of the Dead. She's 20 now and easily types over 100 words per minute. I never learned to touch type (graphics major) and as a result can barely do 65 wpm on a good day. Start her off now -- the earlier, the better. And yes! Keyboard stickers are a great idea!
posted by LuckySeven~ at 1:15 PM on June 1, 2015

Another anecdotal "Mavis taught me at age 7 or 8." I thought touch typing was *so* cool. I even drew a keyboard on a piece of cardboard and would practice typing when I couldn't use the computer. Years later I am now the fastest typer I know (I won a competition at work!).

So, go for it! I'm sure there are lots of great programs out there now - and Mavis is still at it!
posted by radioamy at 2:26 PM on June 1, 2015

My daughter is almost seven and her school is starting "Keyboarding Without Tears" with the 2nd graders next year. I don't know much about it, but I've heard good things about the Handwriting Without Tears program.
posted by artychoke at 2:36 PM on June 1, 2015

This question reminded me of the old touch typing game I learned to play, Kid's Typing, made by Sierra. (This wonderful website actually has a walk-through.) The packaging suggests it's for kids aged 7-11, and when I started playing it (probably at around 8?) I could definitely already touch-type well enough that I sped through the first bunch of lessons.

Sometimes when I'm working, I still hear the ghost's voice say, "Sit with your back against your chair," in the sort of creepy way he does. Your kid, too, can learn so much more than the home row!
posted by CtrlAltDelete at 5:01 PM on June 1, 2015

I learned with a program called Stickybear Typing. The oldest I could possibly have been was seven.
posted by aniola at 6:31 PM on June 1, 2015

The Cheaper by the Dozen kids were taught when they were quite young, but I don't recommend Frank Gilbreth's banging them on the head with a pencil.
posted by brujita at 10:20 PM on June 1, 2015 [1 favorite]

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