Teach touch-typing

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By John Duffty senior lecturer at the University of Chester, and freelance writer

Introduce simple keyboard activity ideas to boost children’s touch-typing skills

Any teacher who has watched a child laboriously hunt along the computer keyboard for a specific letter will recognise the fact that keyboards do nothing to assist with the efficiency of written work. Children need to quickly gain full familiarity with the computer keyboard in order to achieve their potential. In addition to this, many teachers (and Ofsted) are now arguing that children profit from being taught to touch-type. There are many benefits to this, such as increased confidence and speed and, when performed correctly, touch-typing can help to reduce repetitive strain injury. Indeed, those who do not use it are at most risk of back and neck injuries since they are generally hunched over the keyboard slowly hunting for, and tapping at, keys.

The notion of young children learning to touch-type still has a slightly alien feel, and some would argue that time taken mastering the technique is time that should be spent on other ‘more important skills’; or that young children’s hands are too small to touch-type comfortably. However, modern approaches are combining touch-typing with spelling and letter recognition skills, so that learning the technique boosts other literacy skills.

It is also important to remember that real, confident and effective touch-typing is the product of a series of exercises and activities. Children will gain the skills faster than they learn ‘joined-up writing’, but the process will not be instantaneous. The following ideas eight suggest strategies and activities to lead children towards effective touch-typing.

ACTIVITIES Ages 7-11

Developing keyboard familiarity

Lack of familiarity with the keyboard can make ICT sessions a frustrating experience for everyone. To combat this, children need to become as familiar with the ‘QWERTY’ layout as they are with the alphabetical arrangement. Here are a few ideas to help achieve that goal:

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