“Failure to attain handwriting competency during the school-age years often has far-reaching negative effects on both academic success and self-esteem. This complex occupational task has many underlying component skills that may interfere with handwriting performance. Fine motor control, bilateral and visual–motor integration, motor planning, in-hand manipulation, proprioception, visual perception, sustained attention, and sensory awareness of the fingers are some of the component skills identified. Poor handwriting may be related to intrinsic factors, which refer to the child’s actual handwriting capabilities, or extrinsic factors which are related to environmental or bio-mechanical components, or both. It is important that handwriting performance be evaluated using a valid, reliable, standardized tool combined with informal classroom observation and teacher consultation. Studies of handwriting remediation suggest that intervention is effective. There is evidence to indicate that handwriting difficulties do not resolve without intervention and affect between 10 and 30% of school-aged children. Despite the widespread use of computers, legible handwriting remains an important life skill that deserves greater attention from educators and health practitioners.” Handwriting development, competency, and intervention Katya P Feder* PhD OT(C), Annette Majnemer PhD OT(C)
Correct fingering and touch typing is introduced in Kindergarten through Second grade, and then formally taught in Third. Expectations for words per minute (wpm) are established by grade for students in general education curriculum. Utah Education Network recommends 15 WPM in 3rd grade, 20 WPM in 4th grade, 25 WPM in 5th grade, 27 WPM in 6th and 35 WPM by the end of 8th grade*. * Utah State Office Of Education .
It is easy to find practice websites on your own online, there are many free ones. One of my favorites is called “Dance Mat Typing.” Fun characters keep students intrigued. I also have a subscription to Typing.com for educators, and can add your student to my class if you are interested, just email me! (firstname.lastname@example.org) I’ll just need to add them in with a profile name and password, I’ll email that info back to you, and they can practice for free online. Many of the schools and teachers in our district also use typing.com, so if your student is using this in his or classroom already, it is probably best to keep working under that profile. You can also visit the link to the left on this page, or just click right here! TYPING.COM There are also many apps for free that teach typing if your child has access to a tablet, just search in the app store on the tablet. Keep in mind that touch-pads do not feel the same, and often can be a bit more difficult for learning touch typing. They can still help with learning the location of keys and general typing skills however, and can be a lot of fun for students. The more fun, the more willing they are to practice, so that is a pretty good trade off.
Alternatives to Keyboarding
Dictation can be helpful for students when there is a lot to get done, or even just when there is a lot to organize when getting started. For some it can be helpful all the time! The wonderful thing about “Universal Design” is that several of the dictation programs are available to everyone, and the best thing is that they are free! My favorite is Google Voice Typing:
Instructions (or see below for easy YouTube how-to video)
- Open Google Chrome and be ONLINE! (Download latest version of Chrome first if necessary.)
- Log in to a Google Account-use the student’s where possible.
- Open a Google Doc (new or existing.)
- Go to “Tools.”
- Turn on “voice typing.”
- A microphone will appear, toggle on/off when wanting to use.
- “?” below and to right of mic offers instruction.*
- Not working? Hints should pop up to guide you through some things to check.
*TIP: When the microphone on the left is orange, it is ready to record. When it is gray, it is off. When it is OFF, you can hover the cursor over the mic and a little question mark will pop up next to the mic (a little below and to the right of it.) Click this to open TONS of instructions on voice commands you can use while using voice typing.
For some easy “How To” You Tube videos, try these links:
- Great 3 min Video
- 2 min video, voice commands
- 4 min video, done by a teacher
- 3 mins, another good one by a teacher, intended for English or Foreign Language teachers.
- 7 Min tutorial