fifth grade / first grade / fourth grade / Keyboarding / Kindergarten

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:

Kindergarten

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 Examiner.com, 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.

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24 thoughts on “How Fast Should Kids Type

  1. Thanks for sharing! I am working with my elem tech teachers on curriculum. Nice to see what others are doing and how you are grading, etc. We have decided to put formal instruction into 6th and focus on familiarity in K-5.

    • There’s a lot of research that supports that approach. My nod to over-focusing on keyboarding was sending it home–students practice keyboarding as homework rather than in class. I’m not sure how that’s working.

  2. No, no no no no no. This is completely wrong. The average WPM for an 11 year old who is concentrating very hard, is around 83. If they are just doing casual typing, probably around 64.

    • For 6th grade?. Sounds fast in my experience. There’s a leap in typing speed at that age because 1) they have the right habits, 2) they need it for homework, 3) they want to do it. I set the 6th grade goal at 35 wpm which isn’t that hard for them to hit. Many get 45ish but few hit 64 or 83. Though some do.

      Have you tried it with kids at your school?

  3. My son types really fast.
    Kindergarten: 5 WPM
    First Grade: 15 Wpm
    Second Grade: 30 WPM
    Third Grade: 50 WPM
    Fourth Grade 70 WPM
    Fifth Grade: 100 WPM
    Sixth Grade 120 WPM
    Seventh Grade: 130 WPM
    Eighth Grade: 150 WPm
    Ninth Grade: 170 WPM
    I’m so proud.

    • Hi Melissa

      I go up 5wpm per grade level from a speed of 30 in 5th. To reach 30wpm, students have to be efficient, skilled, accurate. All they’re working on after that is speed. That comes with practice, 5wpm per year is a reasonable increase.

  4. I begin teaching typing with my second graders. I set their goal at 5 wpm and increase by 5 wpm each year. I only teach up to seventh grade and by the time they leave my keyboarding program, the goal is for them to be typing at 30 wpm or higher with a 98% accuracy or better. I have had a nice success rate. I use http://www.typingweb.com and Typing Instructor for Kids to teach typing skills. Occassionally, I use Dance Mat Typing on BBC.

  5. In my school, students start typing in first grade using Talking Fingers then continue in second grade. There is no requirement for first and second grade. However, by the end of third grade, you must be able to type at 30 WPM because of the PARCC tests and a lot of it is typed. Same requirement for fourth and fifth grade. 3rd-5th Graders use typing training.com (formerly custom typing). 3rd graders have 30 minutes of typing homework a week for eight weeks, then 15 minutes a week of typing homework. 4th and 5th graders have 45 minutes a week for eight weeks, then 30 minutes a week of typing homework.
    1/2: N/A
    3-5: 30 WPM

    • I am impressed. I have always felt good that students reached 15 wpm in 3rd grade. Kudos to you. I am unfamiliar with Talking Fingers–I’ll have to check on it. Thanks for your comment.

  6. Hello Jacqui, my school district is on a mission to start a keyboarding program K-12 in the 2014-15 school year. We participated in the SBAC testing this year, and over 80% of our teachers reported that one major challenge is that our students don’t know how to keyboard. They know how to use their thumbs proficiently for on-line games, but keyboarding at an accurate and speedy rate is a big area of need.

    I love what you wrote above…do you have suggestions for how a district can start this work at the elementary, middle, and high school? Where to incorporate keyboarding into our curriculum during the day, after school, and at home? Any guidance is welcome.

  7. I just finished 3rd grade at 38 wpm and shortly after, I reached 48 wpm (at home)! Here is the “schematic” for Rheem’s hand tokens:
    3rd grade MAX tokens (5) – 21 wpm
    4th grade MAX tokens (5) – 27 wpm
    5th grade MAX tokens (5) – 33 wpm
    I can’t count how many of my classmates got 1 token! I’m pretty sure I was one of the only 3rd graders in the school that got 5 tokens!

  8. My wpm was about 40-50 in 6th grade, is that slow or average? Now my wpm is 80-90 and I’m in 8th grade, is that slow or average?

  9. I’m 11 and I type 94 words per minute. However, I can barley type half as fast when there are periods, and commas, etc. So far I’ve taught myself , and the students at my school praise my speed. I’m afraid to tell them i’m not that fast. I started typing when I was in 3rd grade, and I got 46 wpm.

    • You definitely know key placement. I’m impressed with your speed. Unfortunately, most of life includes commas and periods. My advice: Force yourself to add all the ‘little finger’ keys to your mastery. As you say, it will be slow, but it will pick up. You’ll need them as you progress through middle school, high school, and college.

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