Pediatric Therapeutic Services

More on keyboarding

So now that we know how to collect information about our students’ ease and speed of keyboarding, as it compares to their handwriting speed, we can look at how to improve keyboarding.

Keyboarding is a motor skill, requiring recall of learned movements for greatest efficiency.

As always, when performing seated work requiring skilled use of the hands, positioning is the foundation for building skills. With keyboarding, the position of the lower body and back in the chair, the position of the monitor in relation to head, neck and eyes, and then the position of the fingers on the keys.

Touch typing is the method preferred for achieving the greatest speed while keyboarding. This method requires that the user utilize each finger to hit the keys, with the keyboard split into vertical rows. For example, the third finger on the left hand is responsible for hitting the keys e d and c, as they fall in a diagonal row on the keyboard. The index fingers are responsible for the following keys: left hand: r f v t g b, and the right: y h n u j m. The thumbs hit the space bar. This is the method that students should be encouraged to use.

English: Screenshot from Linux software KTouch...
English: Screenshot from Linux software KTouch. An image of the Home Row keys for touch typing. Suomi: Kymmensormijärjestelmän sormien paikat. Русский: Фрагмент интерфейса пользователя клавиатурного тренажёра KTouch. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

With any motor learning activity, it is important to consider the following aspects:

Individual learning style

Type of practice: Does the student receive feedback while completing the task? This may be a visual of the WPM, verbal praise, an error sound, or not allowing progress when an error is made. Are letters learned in a finger specific order, or is word practice emphasized?

Opportunities for multi-sensory practice: Using color coded keyboards, either on screen or with the use of small stickers, provides the visual learner with support. The small stickers could even be placed on the fingernails to further emphasize each finger’s job. A printout of the keyboard could be placed under a gel bag to give fun, tactile input when “keyboarding”.
How to motivate to participate and improve: Some students do well with an ongoing log of their typing speed. Others may prefer a concrete speed or goal. Many students respond well to a reward or competitive aspect.

There are many typing programs available for use, at a range of price points. See more details about specific keyboarding programs and their cost in our next post!

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