I am WAY into teaching handwriting – both manuscript & cursive – and ALSO: Learning TYPING is still very important. My recommendation: Teach keyboarding skills young and properly.
Proper typing skills are essential for all of us – and imperative as a skill for struggling writers.
If the school isn’t doing it – help make it happen at home. And even if the school is doing it somewhat – but you notice that they aren’t using 10-finger typing, or aren’t building speed – create practice at home.
It will be a superpower for learners that benefit them lifelong. Automaticity for typing is key!
Based on parents’ questions, here is a typing in a Q&A:
When is the best developmental moment to learn to type?
Learn to type with 10 FINGERS before your learner becomes proficient with two fingers! High-speed “hunt and peck” typing is the enemy of learning to type! Get in there to beat the bad habits.
So the answer depends on how much they are using a keyboard for games or school. It starts in early elementary school after they have learned letters.
Goals: Develop proficiency and speed between 3rd and 5th grade, so that they are fully competent with good typing skills and speed by middle school. Learn to type before middle school!
Isn’t this school’s job to teach this?
Maybe – find out if they are and if you notice your learner is actually learning to do it. Even if they are addressing it at school, practice at home may be needed. Consider asking the school what program they use to incorporate 5-10 minutes of practice at home. It’s also possible school does not have the time to teach it thoroughly and consistently, so it is worth looking into. Often the school librarian web page may have resources and information on typing programs and tools.
My kiddo has dysgraphia – can they still learn to type?
Yes, and it’s even more essential that they do learn to type well. Technology can be the friend of our ‘dys’ family of learners. Learning to navigate the tools and technology early will support automaticity so that they can use the tools to show their intellect more fully.
Can they play the typing games?
Yes – AFTER they have the basic hand positions and keyboard awareness in place. The games are good to build speed, and may not be good for learning proper keyboarding. Have fun with the games once they are ready, and use them as an incentive to learn the basics.
My kiddo is bored by it and it fizzled out – what do I do?
Whatever you can to motivate them! Learning something new can be interesting at first, and then not so much, especially when it demands repetition and practice. Talk to them to acknowledge the feelings of boredom or frustration when you have to start slow to get fast at something. Ask them to partner with you on ideas for how to make a plan to continue and persist. Set up motivational systems that work with your family – star charts, incentives, milestone goals, or offer to pay them! At least initially, until the learner starts to build some competency, motivational tools are important, and then they can fade, as success drives the practice. Some typing programs have incentives built in. Switching up programs to maintain novelty may also help. Trial, error, and persistence on all sides to get to typing competence are worth it.
My kiddo will only practice keyboarding it for a few minutes – is it even worth it?
YES! Brief, high-frequency practice works better for the brain. Chunk it into brief sessions 4-6 times a week. Chart it on a calendar, check off or fill in the calendar to make a visual cue on consistency.
My learner is stressed out by the timer in the program – what should I do?
Find a way to turn off the timer, or try a different program. Finding the right fit to motivate and encourage your learner is essential. Some students love a timer to motivate, others freeze with a timer. Notice what suits your learner under the circumstances.
Can’t they just dictate and voice type?
Sure – I would recommend learning this as well! But not to the exclusion of learning keyboarding. Keyboarding brings in a tactile component using both hands and multiple parts of the brain – it can’t be potent for learning in many ways. Even with voice type, typing will likely be important. Also, typing can be done publicly in a private way; dictating requires a more private or quiet environment.
I use two-finger hunt and peck and it was been okay for me – does it matter?
Yes – it does. Learn 10-finger typing with your child! Or continue with what works for you – and give your learner the opportunity to learn the efficiency of 10-finger typing.
One more thing I have to get my child to do – do I have to?
I know. I get it. If it is a struggle to do at home – consider seeking support. Look into a tutor, consult the school, or sit with your learner to hear out their challenges. Work with them to make a plan to support motivation. Offer to do something you don’t enjoy, like taxes or the dishes, or that you are learning, like knitting, alongside them simultaneously as they type. This models a bigger message: We all have things we don’t want to do or are trying to learn, and working together can help. All interactions with our learners and children work best when they are not a nag, a scold, or a shame – but a partnership and cooperative approach. Offer compassion and validation for the difficulty, and then get to it. If it feels more intense – many communities have experts in assistive technology that can screen or consult to find the right level of support and appropriate materials.
What else should I notice?
(Okay – no one has asked me this – but this is important to include…) POSTURE! HAND POSITIONS! WRISTS! Teach ergonomics early. Good body and hand positioning can improve their typing and save them pain later. it is like learning anything that involves repetitive body usage, from piano to sports: Proper form matters to support efficiency as well as sustainability for the task. Typing needs good form. Peek here for good visuals. HINT: the image to the right has ergonomic don’ts…!
Typing Program Lists and Links
Much has already been written on the value of typing – so below I share some links to access typing programs and other tips.
Some of these programs may have fees or memberships. Your school may already have a membership that your learner can access. And some may be worth paying for if possible. I also link a post on “free” programs. Find what is right for your family.
A general list to review to have a look at a comparison of some typing programs.
Typing for dyslexia at ReadandSpell.
General typing used by many schools – Typing Club.
Fun typing, once have hand positions down with NitroType.
Keyboarding Without Tears programs.
A great blog post from Homeschooling with Dyslexia that shares more tips and resources.
FREE programs blog post here.