So if middle school it too late for our students to start learning keyboarding, when should we start?
I start about half-way through kindergarten! I feel that keyboarding is a key foundation for any future school technology.
I spend the first half of the school year teaching the kindergarteners how to use the computer, but then in the second half we start with Typing Tots, an online typing program. It is funny to watch them type the first few months, some of them are convinced that there keyboard is missing a letter. "Mr. Flick, my computer doesn't have the letter M!"
Just think about what is going on in their little brains; they are converting from lower-case letters on the screen to upper-case letters on a keyboard and are also having to learn a new sequence of letters -- they just figured out the ABCs and now they have QWERTYs.
First grade students mostly work in MS Word, I have three sentences on the screen that they must re-type. They do this to learn punctuations and how to properly use other keys like "enter." Keep in mind that they are still just using the "hunt and peck" method of keyboarding.
Second grade students now begin the long road of touch typing, or keyboarding without looking, they are now introduced to the home row. I use Dance Mat Typing, which the kids really enjoy.
Student repeat these same keyboarding lessons in the third and fourth grades.
In fifth grade the students should be proficient in keyboarding so I move them onto Nimble Fingers with is a down-and-dirty-nothing-fancy typing app. They must be keyboarding at 30 words a minute by the end of 5th grade. Most students finish at around 50 -- well prepared for middle school.