In a previous article, I shared five resources for teaching touch typing to students with visual impairments. In this follow-up piece, I’m going to share five important tips, tricks, and strategies for teaching touch typing. This is, by no means, an all-inclusive list. But it is a place to start.
The importance of having good posture when typing cannot be emphasised enough. It is especially important to monitor posture and positioning in younger students, who are constantly growing and may need to have the height of their tables and chairs checked a few times a year or more. It is only logical that the earlier habits of posture and positioning are introduced, the easier it will be for students to implement them throughout their lives.
Not only is proper posture and positioning important to prevent wear and tear over time, but it will also help students feel as comfortable as possible when typing. And let’s be honest…sitting in one place and typing is hard enough without feeling discomfort.
Doctors and occupational therapists agree that correct posture when doing word processing tasks will prevent future back, neck, and hand issues. Below are some sources for evaluating and adjusting workspaces to incorporate correct posture and positioning.
Students are learning to touch type at an earlier age in today’s technological environment. Sometimes typing classes start as early as first grade.
And let’s be honest, learning to touch type can be pretty boring. Pair that with the fact that the attention spans of most younger children are somewhat limited and you can understand why it is so frustrating for the students.
After doing a bit of research, I’ve found varying opinions about how much time each typing session should last, but most do agree that starting out small and allowing for breaks decreases the student’s anxiety and the likelihood that they will reach their frustration point.
For these reasons, I usually recommend that typing lessons start out at 5-10 minutes and increase by a few minutes per week. This helps students get accustomed to sitting in one place in a given position and to using their fingers in ways that the are not used to. Often setting a timer and providing visual and auditory feedback about how much time is left keeps the students on task.
For elementary aged students, I generally don’t like to let them type beyond 20 minutes without at least a 5 minute break to walk around and stretch or to at least engage in another activity. For middle school and older students, I increase that limit to 30 minutes before a break.
It’s super tempting to plop a student in front of a keyboard with a typing program and tell them to “have at it”, but it certainly is not best practice!
Orienting a student to the keyboard he or she will be using is very important. After all, teaching hand positioning on the home row is a major first step to learning to use all of the keys on the keyboard. If that is not learned correctly within the first few lessons, the student will not be able to progress and reach frustration point rather quickly.
Also, though many keyboarding programs and instruction tools provide verbal instruction about hand positioning, ensuring that students are able to correctly follow the instructions is curcial.
Additionally, as typing is taught, it is also important that students learn where the other major keys on the keyboard are located. If they are screen reader users or you are otherwise hoping to decrease dependence on the mouse, it is even more important for the students to be able to locate and use alt, control, insert, tab, and other keys that allow keyboard control of the operating system, screen reader/magnifier, and other programs.
Let’s face it…ever since we were children, we were warned against peeking. And what did that do? Pretty much nothing…except in some cases where it actually had the opposite effect, but I digress…
There are a lot of options to discourage peeking at the keyboard. Most of these are low-tech solutions and inexpensive.
As we’ve already established, straight keyboarding is BORING! So mixing up your instructional methods is key (pun intended). Here are a few ways to shake things up a bit:
Do you have some favorite strategies to share? A tip or trick you think would be helpful? Please share in the comments section!
Starting from Scratch: Where Do I Start When Teaching My Visually Impaired Student to Type?
Five Resources to Teach Keyboarding Skills
Typio Online: A Web Based Self Voicing Typing Program
All About the Base(Line): Strategies on Getting your Student’s Baseline Typing Speed