Should children learn to touch type?

Should children learn to touch type?

This question has been around for a long time, certainly since the typewriters in the business studies rooms were replaced with word processors!

Students are now surrounded by digital technology and use a range of devices for their work. It is common for children to use tablets, such as iPads from a young age, and many secondary and high school students are using laptops. These are trends that will continue.

Is it important to be able to touch type?  I mean being able to accurately use a keyboard, while looking at the screen or elsewhere, and using all fingers on the correct keys. There are commonly heard arguments for and against learning to touch type

Arguments against learning to touch type

  • it takes a lot of time, time that is better spent on other learning
  • technology such as predictive text and touchscreen devices mean children will not need to type in the future
  • speech recognition and dictation software is replacing typing
  • one or two finger typing is just as fast on hand held devices

Arguments for learning to touch type

  • using a keyboard is the most effective way of inputting text, if you can type efficiently
  • laptops and computers, with keyboards, are going to be around for a while
  • it is a lifeskill, like riding a bike, once you learn you will not forget
  • good habits are best learned at an early age, as bad ones are hard to shift
  • once you can touch type accurately, your speed should increase

In conclusion, why I think that touch typing needs to be taught in school

Students in high school and above are going to be expected to use computers to produce longer and longer texts, for this reason efficient and correct touch typing is essential. Schools need to put aside time to teach this invaluable lifeskill, we cannot rely on parents and self motivated children to learn only at home. Maybe a compromise is to have ‘typing club’ at times during the school day. If we have 12 and 13 year old children typing with two fingers we are doing them a disservice.

Recommended Free Typing Tutor

There are free typing tutors available. I have seen children succeed with the free typing tutor available on line from typing.com. Teachers can even set up classes and monitor progress. The free version does have advertisements but they are not too noticeable. A small fee will remove the ads completely.  Another reliable one is typingclub.com There are many other typing tutors available, some of which are very good, but beware of ones with too many distractions and games!

What do you think?

 

Why transitions may be difficult for children on the autism spectrum

We need to understand that children on the autism spectrum may have difficulties with transitions – moving from one activity to another.

Children on the autism spectrum may have difficulties with transition – moving between activities – at school. It is well documented that changes to routine are difficult for such children and that they can become fixed on one activity and have difficulty shifting their interest.

In any school day there are transitions, for example around break times and lunchtimes, or  heading to PE or music. There may also be transitions involved where there are visitors to school, such as visiting speakers and assemblies. These transitions may also be accompanied by changes in environment and possibly sensory issues. It is common for children on the autism spectrum to have sensory issues associated with touch, sound and vision.

There are also ‘vertical’ transitions as children move from one year level to the next. These transitions are particularly critical as children move from primary to secondary school and from school to adult life.

It is essential that schools attempt to minimise the stress that these transitions cause to children.

What steps can we take to reduce the stress of transitions for children on the autism spectrum?

We all need to remember that all children have their own needs and that these differences are especially apparent with children on the autism spectrum. The first step is to find out where the difficulties are for the individual. Once we have this information we can begin to find ways to ease transitions.

  • Establish a  routine and stick to it
  • Give ample warning when the routine needs to be changed
  • Give a timetable showing where transitions take place – a visual timetable may be appropriate
  • Avoid sensory overload where possible e.g. at an assembly, moving around the school
  • Have materials organised and accessible to move to a new activity e.g. have a workstation where the child can sit, with all the necessary supplies in place
  • Have a buddy, who can model the transition and remind where necessary
  • Keep instructions direct and unambiguous, you may be taken very literally
  • Parents and teachers need to work together – parents can share their knowledge of their own children with teachers

Sometimes a child on the autism spectrum may have limited or fixed interests. Try to incorporate these interests into school work and home activities, as this may allow the child to learn to develop new skills.

Other posts: what is autism? | sensory issues for children on the autism spectrum – vision