Handwriting is in decline as students increasingly use digital forms of writing throughout their lives – from their personal communications through to their essays. Does this mean learning to touch-type is now a vital skill? Perhaps not – there’s researching suggestion that knowing how to touch-type doesn’t necessarily make you a faster or more accurate typist.
Although many students will be happy and effective muddling along with their own ‘hunt and peck’ strategy, there are benefits to be gained from a typing course beyond just speed and accuracy.
A high words-per-minute rate may no longer be a requirement for finding a job, but being able to type quickly and accurately may help students make sure their hands keep up with their thoughts, letting them express themselves more confidently and study more effectively.
Early typing skills
With children becoming computer-literate at younger and younger ages, keyboard skills are increasingly important even in early primary school to prevent bad habits from setting in.
Encourage students in the early years to use two hands instead of one to type, and to use the hand that sits closest to the letter they are typing – letters to the left of the keyboard with the left hand and vice-versa. Color coding the keyboard with stickers can help them quickly and easily identify which half of the keys to hit with a right or left hand finger.
Encourage students to use their thumbs for the space bar so they don’t get in the habit of moving their hands too much, but it doesn’t matter at this early stage if they’re not using all ten fingers. The key is to get them familiar with the keys, and thinking about how to reach them as quickly as possible.
Students in the middle and upper levels of primary school – whose hands can more easily reach across a keyboard – could start learning more structured techniques, and to incorporate more of their fingers.
A fun challenge to test progress could be to practice writing texts without looking at the keyboard. Students often become used to looking at both text and keyboard at once by typing on touchscreens, and so may not realize that they’re relying on seeing the keys all the time.
Adding touch-typing to lessons
With curriculum testing moving online, now is the perfect time to reintroduce touch-typing courses. The vast array of inexpensive, fun and educational typing software, games and online resources makes it easy for educators to start teaching this valuable skill today.