Instead of focusing on keyboarding drills, let’s make sure we first start with developing the necessary keyboarding skills. Research suggests that fine motor development at school entry is extremely important as it has shown a direct correlation to a child's academic success at the end of elementary school. The key to improving upon any fine motor skill is developing a strong foundation built on proper form and technique without having to resort to the tiresome “drill and kill” method of typing practice, which can result in student burnout.
Before a child learns to find the keys on a keyboard with their fingers to type, they need to build foundation skills. Foundation keyboarding skills include developing proper posture and hand positioning at their computer station, building the coordination needed for mousing skills, and becoming familiar with the different parts of the computer.
Once foundation skills have been established, the next step is being able to identify letters and have a general understanding of where they are on the keyboard.
In addition to activities that can be performed right at the keyboard, we suggest taking pre-keyboarding practice away from the computer and onto the floor or another surface. This can give children a different perspective and a unique sensory experience. Keyboarding Without Tears offers a pre-keyboarding activity called Build a Keyboard that is a multisensory, hands-on activity that helps young students identify letters and search and locate them on the keyboard.
This is an important step in pre-keyboarding instruction because learning how to locate, match, and identify letter, number, and action keys lays the foundation for typing fluency!
Finger-Key Association & Two-Handed Typing
Once a child has familiarized themselves with the location of the keys on the keyboard, they can start to develop finger-key association. This means having the knowledge and muscle memory to know which letter or key to press with which finger. For children to be successful with finger-key association, it is important to understand that this skill takes time and repetition to fully develop. Drills are very important to develop this skill, but they need to be presented in a way that is simple, engaging, and child friendly so they learn to build correct finger patterns.
Our program incorporates activities to teach finger-key association in an age-appropriate manner. We have specific lessons we refer to as “Painted Figure Cues” and “Target Practice” that do just this. In Painted Finger Clues, we develop the ability to associate specific fingers with specific keys. In Target Practice, we develop unilateral hand skills and associated finger-muscle movements by requiring children to hold down one key with one hand while practicing the typing, or finger-key associations, with the other hand. This method helps reinforce two-handed typing, which is the ultimate skill needed to be an efficient keyboarder.
It is important that you consider one that is developmentally appropriate and grade-specific. Children in kindergarten do not have the same keyboarding skills as a child in fifth grade. The student licenses are grade-specific and the activities connect to cross-curricular subjects. Keyboarding Without Tears teaches students to type with one hand before using both hands on the keyboard. Students are introduced to keys within horizontal color-coded rows, which are visually appealing. The keys are taught in a developmental teaching order. Digital citizenship activities can be found in the online teacher’s guide to promote digital literacy as well.
Research shows again and again that there is a critical need for practice in skills ranging from music to reading and problem solving. Let’s do away with the drill and kill method of practice and champion fun and effective practice in all classrooms!
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