Keyboarding skills are often considered just important (or more) than handwriting. But when are children developmentally ready?

keyboarding skills

Developmental Progression of Keyboarding Skills

Have you ever gone to a restaurant and spotted an entire family on their phone or tablet? Technology is everywhere, and there is no getting away from it. I’m sure you’ve read those articles about the importance of limiting technology and screen time, but what about the importance of teaching technology in a developmentally appropriate way?

When are kids ready to learn how to type? 

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This post is part of a 12-month series called Functional Skills for Kids written by pediatric OTs and PTs to post on different developmental topics that impact functional skills for kids.

This month’s topic in the  “Functional Skills for Kids” blog hop is Keyboarding Skills, so check out the landing page for the rest of our posts and information on all things related!

Common Core Curriculum has evolved over the years so that schools are teaching handwriting before children are developmentally ready.  Are we doing the same thing with keyboarding skills?

How are Keyboarding Skills and Handwriting Alike?

Keyboarding and handwriting both provide a way for children to represent their knowledge, thoughts, and expressions.

Just like handwriting, children need to be fluent with keyboarding in order to accurately express themselves.  When children do not receive formal keyboarding instruction, it takes them much longer to find the keys, complete their sentences, and include the necessary details of the assignment.

This can lead to kids taking the same “shortcuts” we frequently see when they struggle with handwriting:

  • Fewer details
  • Shorter sentences and paragraphs
  • Incomplete sentences

When keyboarding is fluent and  automatic, it helps children to focus on the content of their writing, rather than trying to locate the proper keys (Preminger, Weiss, & Weintraub, 2004).

Keyboarding Instead of Handwriting

Many parents and educators choose to lead a child toward keyboarding if they struggle with handwriting. With the surge of technology in education, it makes sense to use keyboarding as an alternative when handwriting is too difficult. “However, research suggests that children who struggle with handwriting may also struggle with keyboarding” (Connelly, Gee, & Walsh, 2007).

But Why?

Many of the prerequisite skills for handwriting are the same for keyboarding:

  • Letter recognition
  • Fine motor skills
  • Isolated use of each finger
  • Bilateral coordination (using two hands together)
  • Eye-hand coordination
  • Visual memory and perceptual skills
  • Postural control

Keyboarding and handwriting are both complex skills that require practice to become fluent and automatic.  Formal instruction in keyboarding can help a child to build the foundational skills need to express themselves appropriately.

Still concerned about Handwriting? Check out the Ultimate Guide to Handwriting, “The Handwriting Book” written by ten pediatric OTs and PTs.


But when should children really be able to type?

Developmental Progression of Keyboarding Skills

Get my printable Keyboarding Standards by Grade Resource! Just click the image!



  1. Connelly, V., Gee, D., & Walsh, E. (2007). A comparison of keyboarded and handwritten compositions and the relationship with transcription speed. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 77, 479-492.
  2. Handwriting & Keyboarding: Standards for the Production & Presentation of Writing. (2014). Retrieved December 13, 2016, from
  3. Honaker, D. (1999). Handwriting and Keyboarding Legibility/Speed of 5th and 8th-grade students, a pilot study. Unpublished manuscript.
  4. Preminger, F., Weiss, P., & Weintraub, N. (2004). Predicting occupational performance: Handwriting versus keyboarding. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 58, 193-201.



This post is part of the Functional Skills for Kids series.  Check out all of the bloggers who are participating and learn more about the series by clicking on the link above.

To read all of Miss Jaime, O.T.’s posts in this series, check out my Functional Skills for Kids landing page.

For more information on the components and considerations related to Keyboarding Skills and Typing, stop by and see what the other Occupational Therapists and Physical Therapists on the Functional Skills for Kids team have to say:

Fine Motor Skills and Typing  | Therapy Fun Zone

How to Implement a Keyboarding Club | Sugar Aunts

Activities to Help Children Learn to Type | Growing Hands-On Kids

Assistive Technology for Kids Who Struggle With Handwriting  |  The Inspired Treehouse

Work Station, Positioning, and Keyboarding Skills| Your Therapy Source

Visual Perceptual Considerations When Typing  | Your Kids OT



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