Saturday, January 29, 2011

When are children proficient at typing?

Ms. Dorothy,
 _____, who is 12, has Aspergers. He is very high functioning, but not surprisingly, fine motor skills are not his forte. At what age are kids proficient at typing? How would you define proficient? Is it the sort of skill that like writing, will just improve over time as you are challenged to work at it more and more?
- A Mom

Typing has become necessary for students in Middle and High School as teachers ask for assignments turned in via email, or in manuscript formats.  Accordingly, keyboarding is taught younger than it once was.  

Some programs exist, like Type to Learn, that make learning keyboarding into a game rather than a rote drill, and can help with gaining mastery. Though even a two finger typist can become efficient with enough practice.

Because the motor movement of shaping the letters supports brain development, handwriting helps to learn spelling and helps to write at the rate that you think. 
If, however, you struggle with controlling a pen and your writing slows you down, learning keyboarding may be more helpful. 

There are some great articles on the Science Daily site about the importance of learning to both write and type.

The key to proficiency, for writing or typing, is the ability to communicate fluently. 
The skill that you have practiced enough to make words come automatically, will be the method that gets ideas from head to paper most efficiently. 

We are all slowed down in the learning stages by thinking through the spelling of words.  If your writing is additionally slowed down by the formation of letters and the discomfort of holding a writing implement, communication is inhibited.

For someone who struggles with communication already, removing as many roadblocks as possible has to be our highest priority.

The future of writing may live in touch screens, visual formats, and two thumb texting. Students who struggle with communication in general may be the pioneers in bringing new technologies to the classroom, and help to revolutionize our thinking about how we share ideas.

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