Your kids can write, but can they type?

I’m back, baby! Never know what to write about, I always feel like I’m vomiting useless stuff, not furthering anyone’s life. Well, this will be a little different from what I am used to, I’ll bash out 3 quick topics today. This is episode 1.

Read, write, count, type – The new basic knowledge

You may one day have kids. Hell, you may already have them! I imagine you want them to do well in the world today. The first skill they should learn is to read. If they like reading, great, if they don’t, at least they can make out words. Not everyone needs to devour novels (myself, I always loved manuals, fuck novels, I used to read encyclopaediae), but knowing what they read, skimming, teaching them to read in their mind should be a given. Later, you may want to teach them not to subvocalize. That’s the little voice in your head that reads everything you may be reading. It’s nice, but it can slow you down.

Counting is basically ditto. They don’t need to crunch numbers all day every day, but they should know what six times seven is. Division is also nice, although depending on what they use at school, you may want to teach them another method as well (not everyone has the maths brain, but everyone can learn shortcuts which suit their own mind).

Now for the big thing: Writing. Children will write a whole bunch before they reach sixth grade, so it’s something to remember. Also, your handwriting is something unique, something memorable, something you put conscious effort into…

and then there’s the times where you just need to bash out something to work on, later. Or you need to write quickly. Or, the ever more frequent occurance: you need to use a computer.

This is something most parents seem to miss, in my opinion, because I work with their children and there’s always one parent to make me go “Huh, that doesn’t make sense, but it’s your kid.”

Case in point: I teach fifth grade IT. They are cool kids to work with, all the right questions are there (Why are we learning this? I want to make an app!), it’s all good. What bothered me at first was one pupil, or rather her folks.

Last year, her mother expressed the desire for me to teach kids “graphics, photo editing and stuff.” Sure, I thought, that’s something they might actually use and get a load of enjoyment from. As I was going into the first lesson, I kept an ear out for what the children might want. Lo and behold, some good ideas were had. Programming, typing, stuff like that. I also thought photo editing would be nice, and the pupils agreed. I thought I could teach the girl to edit photos quickly, nicely. Everyone else had computer experience (playing games, clicking around webpages, etc.)

Well, turns out little girl’s mum had zero tolerance of her daughter using a computer before she went into IT classes. The girl was terrified of everything computer related. Even after I told her she couldn’t break anything unless she tried, she didn’t trust the machine. Moreover, she didn’t trust herself. She grabbed the mouse unsurely, and I’m quite sure that click on the web browser icon was one of the first ones in her life.

So, parents, here’s my plea to you: Teach your kids the ropes of a computer. Don’t force them to do complex tasks, you don’t need to have them jumping around the internet, but please, let them play solitare or minesweeper or some shit. These games were made to teach office workers how to click and move the mouse. Do this much for them.

If you want to take it a step further, download some typing software (Klavaro is a good one), and get your kids’ fingers on the keyboard. I did this with my nephew (don’t have kids of my own yet to experiment on), and I can say he flew by the first two lessons. fjdk is easy for him, and were it not for his small hands, he’d be much further today.

Teach your kids to type fast. They will thank you sooner rather than later.