May 12, 2011

How Fast Should Kids Type

I get this question a lot from readers and purchasers of my technology curriculum: How fast should kids type? What about Kindergartners? When are their

brains mature enough to understand speed and accuracy?

When I reviewed the literature on this subject, it is all over the place. Some say third grade, some leave it until sixth. I say–make this decision based on your own set of students. Me, I’ve come to conclusions that fit for my particular K-8 students. Their demographics include:

  • private school
  • parents support emphasis on keyboarding
  • most have computers at home; actually, most have their own computer at home
  • students are willing to practice keyboarding in class and submit homework that is oriented to keyboarding

Based on this set of students, here’s what I require:


An introduction. We use Type to Learn Jr. in class. We also use Brown Bear Typing as a challenge for students, an activity that moves them into another of their choice. I focus on:

  • posture
  • hand position (hands on the keyboard)

They tolerate TTL Jr. and love Brown Bear. Often, even when they’ve achieved a score that allows them to move on, they continue. When it’s free choice time, they often select this program.

I also use a variety of games to support learning the most common keys on the keyboard–enter, spacebar, backspace, delete, etc.

First Grade

More of the kindergarten introduction, but my focus becomes:

  • posture, including general elements of
  • elbows at side
  • feet in front
  • hands on home row and their own side of keyboard

And, we move on to Type to Learn midway through the year. This I tell them is the ‘big kids’ program, one they’ll use throughout Lower and Middle School. They love that.

Second Grade

I still don’t time them, but I focus more on traits that will allow for speedy, accurate typing:

  • good posture
  • elbows at their side to force hands into the correct position
  • use thumb for space bar
  • hands on home row
  • pointers on f and j
  • use the finger closest to the key while keeping pointers on f and j

Third Grade-Fifth Grade

We now start on keyboard quizzes for speed and accuracy. We use all of the good traits they’ve acquired in K-2. I give them a five-minute typing test once a trimester. They’re graded on speed and accuracy (though I allow one minute at the end to correct spelling errors using a right-click on the red squiggly lines). As students are typing, I anecdotally notice who is using all fingers. Those that aren’t lose points.

Grading is as follows:

20% improvement: 10/10

10% improvement: 9/10

0-10% improvement: 8/10

No improvement: 7/10

Slowed down: 6/10

I post a list of keyboard speedsters in each class on the bulletin board. I also post the winning class (fastest) for all to see. Students who reach the grade level standard for speed and accuracy get a free dress pass (we are a uniform school). This is quite exciting for them:

Grade level standards are:

K-2 None

3rd Grade: 15 wpm

4th Grade: 25 wpm

5th Grade: 30 wpm

What do you use for Lower School keyboarding? I’d love to hear from you.

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Jacqui Murray is the editor of a technology curriculum for K-fifth grade and creator of two technology training books for middle school. She is the author of Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy midshipman. She is webmaster for five blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, a columnist for, and a weekly contributor to Write Anything and Technology in Education. Currently, she’s working on a techno-thriller that should be ready this summer. Contact Jacqui at her writing office or her tech lab, Ask a Tech Teacher.


Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy, and the thriller, To Hunt a Sub. She is also the author/editor of over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, adjunct professor of technology in education, webmaster for four blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, a columnist for TeachHUB, monthly contributor to Today’s Author and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. You can find her books at her publisher’s website, Structured Learning. The sequel to To Hunt a Sub, Twenty-four Days, will be out this summer. Jacqui Murray has been teaching K-8 technology for 15 years. She is the editor/author of over a hundred tech ed resources including a K-8 technology curriculum, K-8 keyboard curriculum, K-8 Digital Citizenship curriculum. She is an adjunct professor in tech ed, CSG Master Teacher, webmaster for four blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, Editorial Review Board member for Journal for Computing Teachers, CAEP reviewer, CSTA presentation reviewer, freelance journalist on tech ed topics, and a weekly contributor to TeachHUB. You can find her resources at Structured Learning.

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