Why is it better for your child to learn how to type than to write?

Why is it better for your child to learn how to type than to write?

Before we go into detail as to why it is better for your child for them to type than to write, it must be first made clear that writing is not a bad thing for your child and we do encourage that if they can pick being able to write easy, then they should continue to write as well as learning the skill of typing. Typing is something which is becoming more and more prominent nowadays so getting your child to learn this skill is extremely necessary and will be of benefit to them for the entirety of their life.

Typing

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Firstly, let’s look at touch typing. Touch-typing is something which is of benefit to everyone, not only people who may struggle to write properly. When being able to touch type not only will you be able to type faster, but you will be able to do this without the need of having to look at the screen on the computer. Things like transcribing are also made a whole lot easier, due to the fact that when you’re touch-typing your eyes can stay on the paper and you can ensure that your figures will be able to do the job when typing.

 

Now let’s look at reasons why touch typing is a skill worth in.

 

Let’s look at a few of the key reasons as to why touch typing is such an important skill:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Comfort will improve:  when a child starts to learn how to touch type, they will then become much more comfortable with how their hands are operating when they are typing. This is because when you can have your hands centered on the keyboard it will allow you to place your fingers more evenly across the keyboard.

 

Fewer mistakes made: with touch typing, this will be more effective than say a hunt and peck type method as it will lead to less errors by the individual being made. Now of course at first, mistakes will obviously be made when you are trying to get used to aligning your fingers in the correct position on the keyboard and keeping your eyes fixated to the screen, but once you are used to this method it will become much easier to adjust any errors as you will be already looking at the screen to notice the mistake made.

 

Typing speed increases: as touched upon on the previous point, keeping your eyes off the keyboard and fixated on the screen will give you a huge boost in your ability to type faster. Think about note-taking in the classroom or even at work. It often happens that notes are being taken at such a quick rate that you will struggle to be able to take down all the necessary information that is being said, and this can lead to crucial bits of information not being taken down by the individual. What touch typing does is not necessarily ensure that every single bit of note-taking will be taken down but it will vastly improve the speed in which a person can do this. Mistakes may be made along the way but at least you will have the bulk of what is being said down and you can adjust and fix this information later.

 

 

 

 

Now let’s look at an example of a touching typing course which is known as Typewiz. Typewiz touch typing lessons are designed in a way to be short and encourage the child to complete their next lesson by achieving rewards and moving up leaderboards. Below is a little deeper insight into why you should get your child started with Typewiz.

Typewiz typing tutor

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Typing games: Typewiz has fun and interactive games for your child to enjoy. Typewiz allows your child to compete with kids in their age range and they can try improving by moving up leaderboards. A virtual coin is used for each game and will measure your child’s performance of how they’re getting on in the course, which will then motivate them to complete exercises as fast and efficiently as possible.

–          Avatar rewards: Typewiz allows your child to earn an avatar as they complete each lesson, and these include many cool-looking avatars which will motivate the child to focus and do the best they can in order to achieve their desired avatar.

–          Modular design: the modular design which Typewiz provides is something that is easy on the eye for children and really creates an amazing environment for children to learn how to touch type.

–          Reporting: This is of huge benefit to parents of the children, as Typewiz offers a report showing how your child is getting on and progressing along throughout the duration of the course. The report will give you key information such as exercises your child has completed, average accuracy, highest score, and much, much more. This information can be shown weekly, over the last 6 months, the past year, or all the time. Typewiz will show you both accuracy and words per minute graphs in the report, so it can easily be available to view and print off either.

 

 

Now after looking at an example of a touch typing game and why it would be of benefit to your child, it is clear that typing is something which is essential to learn at an early age and would of be of great use to any young person. In school writing is of course still used for exams and note-taking by students, however with colleges now really putting emphasis on doing exams from home on computers due to the pandemic we find ourselves in, it would not be of any surprise if this was to be the way forward for learning in the near future.

Typewiz Free trial

 

 

Does your child have poor handwriting speed? How can typing help?

Does your child have poor handwriting speed? How can typing help?

 

 

 

 

 

 

As children growing up, one of the first skills we are thought to do when in school is being able to write properly. It usually begins with kids being taught how to write letters or shapes individually and teaching the child what the correct form to use when they are writing. Some children pick up this skill quickly at a young age, whereas others may tend to struggle greatly with this and begin to fall behind people their age. This tends to pose the question to parents about how they go about rectifying this issue that they are having with their child’s handwriting issues. This is where the ability to have your child learn how to type at a young age will give endless benefits to them which we will go further into below.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Learning to touch type – you may be wondering what touch-typing means. What’s the difference between regular typing and touch typing? Well, touch typing is where one types but without looking at the keyboard. By doing this you will constantly be staring at your screen so that if you keep making mistakes you will be able to notice them quicker than say if you were constantly looking down at your keyboard. The benefits of being able to touch-type properly are endless.

  Touch typing, if learnt as young as possible, will be of massive benefit to an individual as it will become a long-term skill, whether at home, school, college, or even in the work environment.

  Touch typing helps your child to type faster as well as more accurately, without having to look at the keyboard every now and then.

  Once your child is touch typing, this will become an unconscious action to them, which will then allow them to become more creative.

  Learning how to type at a young age will increase the likelihood of the child developing less bad habits, than if we were to start learning this at an older age.

  Touch typing helps children that have dyslexia, as some children who are dyslexic will find it easier to touch type rather than handwrite. This is due to the tactile element of pressing the keyboard is able to help with being able to manage difficult words.

  Drafting and editing can be made easier for children by touch typing as you can play around with your work by being able to move paragraphs, delete parts of the text that are no longer needed which is something that one does not have the luxury of doing if they are handwriting.

  By being able to successfully touch-type, will then allow for the person to really focus on their content. While touch typing will greatly enhance the ability for a child to be able to type at a fast pace it will also improve the quality of their work too. And because of this, they will be able to put their main focus into the quality of the content which they are producing.

 

 

 

 

 

Searsol  – Searsol was formed back in 2007 and has been teaching children how to be able to touch type properly. Previously we really delved into what are the benefits of a child being able to touch type, and one should look no further than Typewiz if they want to get their child learning how to perfect this skill in a fun and interactive way. Typewiz touch typing lessons are designed in a way to be short and encourage the child to complete their next lesson by achieving rewards and moving up leaderboards. Below is a little deeper insight into why you should get your child started with Typewiz.

  Typing games: Typewiz has fun and interactive games for your child to enjoy. Typewiz allows your child to compete with kids in their age range and they can try improving by moving up leaderboards. A virtual coin is used for each game and will measure your child’s performance of how they’re getting on in the course, which will then motivate them to complete exercises as fast and efficiently as possible.

  Avatar rewards: Typewiz allows your child to earn an avatar as they complete each lesson, and these include many cool looking avatars that will motivate the child to focus and do the best they can in order to achieve their desired avatar.

  Modular design: the modular design which Typewiz provides is something that is easy on the eye for children and really creates an amazing environment for children to learn how to touch type.

  Reporting: This is of huge benefit to parents of the children, as Typewiz offers a report showing how your child is getting on and progressing along throughout the duration of the course. The report will give you key information such as exercises your child has completed, average accuracy, highest score and much, much more. This information can be shown weekly, over the last 6 months, the past year or all the time. Typewiz will show you both accuracy and words per minute graphs in the report, so it can easily be available to view and print off either.

 

 

Overall you can see that there are endless benefits when it comes to a child being able to learn how to be able to type at a young age if they are struggling with their handwriting. The aim of this blog was really to give you an insight into not only all of the benefits that come along with your child being able to type properly but also the fun that can be had along the way in their learning process and we see this through games like Typewiz. Typing is something which is a vital skill for all ages nowadays and as time goes on the importance of being able to type will not become less vital.

 

 

How to help a child who has dyslexia

 

 

 

HOW TO HELP A CHILD WHO HAS DYSLEXIA

 

About dyslexia:

Firstly, it is key to gain an understanding of what dyslexia really is. Dyslexia can be seen as a learning disorder that involves difficulty with reading due to problems of identifying speech sounds and learning how they relate to letters and words, which is known as decoding. Dyslexia is something that is more common than one may think as it affects 10% of the population of Ireland, around 450,000 people.

An interesting statistic relating to children in the classroom shows that on average three children in every classroom will have dyslexia. When looking at how dyslexic difficulties occur, it goes on a continuum from mild to severe. It is known that people who are dyslexic may experience a greater degree of stress and frustration when learning, which will then relate in a higher case of anxiety most particularly in relation to literacy acquisition.

It is vital that a child’s needs are identified as young and early as possible so that the relative gap between pupils with dyslexia and their peers don’t grow over time. Support at any age will be of benefit to this learning difficulty, of course, however, the earlier this can be identified the better it is for the person having difficulties. When it comes to identifying the signs that your child may be dyslexic, some of these points may help you know;

 Struggle to learn simple rhymes

  1. Speech delay
  2. Unable to follow instructions
  3. Are unable to tell left from right 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Is dyslexia something that is curable?

Dyslexia is something that isn’t necessarily an illness but is something that a person will have throughout their entire life? However, by taking the appropriate measures towards understanding the difficulties and challenges are that come with having dyslexia it can then be made much easier to live with. When really delving into dyslexia and its impact it will have on a person, it is something that is a brain-based issue with language.

That is why kids will have issues with being able to work with the sounds of language. It’s important to remember that reading issues may still exist for children with dyslexia even after they have been able to learn and read properly. The ability for a child to read that has dyslexia is more so a mechanical one. This is why children which have dyslexia will best be able to learn with reading programs that are systematic ones and take an explicit multisensory approach to. By doing this it will enhance the likelihood of a child to be able to successfully identify words.  

Methods to help your child live with dyslexia: The previous point leads nicely into how you can go about having your child be able to live with dyslexia. If your kid was to be diagnosed with dyslexia, beware that this does not mean that your child will never be able to read properly, that’s why these methods below will go a long way to helping your child read to the fullest of their potential;

  1. Multi-sensory introduction in decoding skills
  2. Individual guidance
  3. Being pulled out of class for extra help for more than once a week
  4. Being taught decoding skills
  5. Children are taught comprehension skills, in order to help them understand what they are reading. 

 We at Searsol put great emphasis on the fact that one of the most important ways for a child to be helped with their dyslexia is to make them feel comfortable when they are trying to read or type.  Being able to create games where children can gain accomplishments and rewards can greatly enhance a child’s experience and willingness to learn also.

How to help a child when stuck at home:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

With covid being so prominent in our lives today, this means that schools are being shut for long periods of time and this is something which may be having a massively detrimental effect on your child’s ability to learn and improve in school. These children are losing invaluable time when it comes to their education so it is vital that these children are able to stay productive at home and continue to learn along the way. There are endless ways in which you as a parent can go about helping your child to help your child who has dyslexia at home;

 

  1. Encourage children to read: The importance of having your child be able to read is one which can go under the radar but this is vital if you want your child to improve with their learning abilities. Not only this but it is also important to challenge your child by questioning them on what they read so that you know that their reading is being of actual benefit to them.
  2. Have the child work independently: In the last point we talked about the importance of you as a parent posing questions to your child. You should also encourage your child to work in an independent manner to ask you questions about if they are doing their work right so that you can then give them advice on whether they are right or wrong with what they are doing.
  3. Give praise to boost morale: With children who have dyslexia, they are just like the rest of us people and they will tend to thrive with confidence and self-esteem when they are being praised for the work they have done. You as a parent should be very encouraging towards your child when they are learning, beware not to always praise and prepare to criticise when appropriate, but most importantly act in a positive manner when helping your child.

Encourage touch typing:

The ability for a child being able to touch type is one that can be of huge benefit to a child who is dyslexic. We at Searsol encourage children to learn to touch type from a young age as it is a skill that can be long term at home, school, college and even in the work environment when your child grows older. The goal of touch typing is to help one type faster as well as accurately, without having to look at their keyboard all the time. Once your child is successfully able to touch type, they will then be typing in an unconscious manner which will allow your child to become more creative.

Learn how to type
Learn how to type at any of Searsol Centres

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you’re interested in a free trial at any of our centres in Dublin or Cork. Click on our free trial on searsol.com

 

 

What can you do to overcome your child’s poor handwriting?

Poor handwriting

Poor handwriting

What can you do to overcome your child’s poor handwriting?

 

Does your child have poor handwriting and is struggling to complete their homework? Does your child take a long time for them to do their homework? Is the quality of the handwriting produced by your child legible? What can you do to improve this situation for your child? Do you want a life that is free from the stress and anxiety of trying to get them to complete their homework? 

 

Definition of poor handwriting:

First off let’s define what poor handwriting is. According to Chivers (1999) – poor handwriting is a deficiency in the ability to write, primarily handwriting, but also coherence. Poor handwriting is a transcription disability, meaning that it is a writing disorder associated with impaired handwriting, orthographic coding (orthography, the storing process of written words and processing the letters in those words), and finger sequencing (the movement of muscles required to write).

 

Causes of poor handwriting

 

The main two causes of poor handwriting are deficiencies in balance sense or body awareness.   

Balance sense

Balance sense
Balance sense

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The balance sense is located in our inner ear.  Children who have experienced any of the following are more likely to have difficulties with their balance sense:

  • chronic ear infections
  • premature birth
  • neglect and trauma in infancy
  • other neurological conditions such as autism

Child jumping

When this sense is not developed properly, children are likely to have difficulty with balance, jumping, hopping, skipping, sitting still, concentration, managing fear or anxiety and learning to read or poor handwriting skills.

 

Body Awareness

body awareness

This sense is located in the muscles and joints all over our body and is often called the body awareness sense as it tells our brain where our body is in relation to itself and other things.

 

Children with poor body awareness often present with the following conditions:

  • appear clumsy
  • are rough
  • break things
  • bump into things
  • unable to sit still for long periods of time
  • poor concentration.
  • difficulty with reading 
  • Poor handwriting skills

 

These two senses (balance and body)  are the building blocks for all other skills. It doesn’t matter how much we practice with our child on handwriting skills, it won’t improve because of deficiency in their balance and body senses.

 

Your child may have a good pencil grasp and lovely letter formation but if they don’t have a functioning balance sense then their writing is likely to be much slower, messy, difficult to read than other children.

How do you improve your child’s poor handwriting skills?

You can improve your child with poor handwriting skills by trying the following:

 

Strengthen Fine Motor Skills

scissors cutting

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Increasing hand strength and finger dexterity can help your child get more control over the pen and improve their handwriting.  Encourage your child on tasks like cutting with scissors, using a screwdriver, sewing or knitting.

 

Pencil Grip

Pencil grip
Pencil grip

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A good grip could help reduce fatigue and prevent muscle cramps, which may help to improve handwriting.

 

Upper Body strength

 

 

 

 

 

Encourage your child to build upper body strength through sports,  swimming and gym weights. These will help strengthen and stabilise the shoulder muscles to free up the hand muscles for handwriting.

 

Frequent Breaks

Take a break
Take a break

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If your child tires easily or becomes distracted, then let them have a quick break as opposed to continuing on and their handwriting deteriorates. 

 

Pick your battles

Pick your battles

Pick your battles

 

Decide which subjects require good handwriting and which subjects you can get away with poor handwriting. 

 

Typing skills

Typewiz.com – be a wiz at typing!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Instead of writing out all their homework. Why not get them to type it out using a laptop or tablet? By typing out their homework, it helps not only to be able to read the text they produce but also allows you to review the document and make changes if required. By learning how to type correctly, your child overcomes poor handwriting and uses assistive technology to their advantage. 

If you want your child to learn how to type at one of our centres, you can book a free trial assessment at https://searsol.com/find-centers/

How long does it take to learn to touch type?

How long does it take to learn to touch-type?

It’s a question that we have been asked several times before and to be honest it’s a difficult one to answer.

Definition of Touch Typing:

Touch typing is the ability to type without looking down at the keyboard. A person who can touch-type will know all the letters location on the keyboard through muscle memory. The term is often used to refer to a specific form of touch typing that involves placing the eight fingers in a horizontal row along the middle of the keyboard

Home Keys

Touch typing is a skill that needs to be learned and it becomes better as you practice using the correct technique. The correct technique is to place your fingers on the home keys, left hand fingers should start with the little resting on the A button and the main index finger on the F button on the keyboard. The right-hand fingers should start with the index finger on the J button and the little finger on the semicolon button (;). If you are interested in learning how to touch type, check out our new typing tutor Typewiz which is specifically aimed at teaching children how to touch type in a fun and interactive way. Also, see our youtube video below on How to touch type using Typewiz which explains the correct procedure to learn how to touch type using our typing tutor Typewiz.

 

A range of factors come into play in deciding how long it will take to learn how to touch type.

Factors to consider are the concentration, motivation, age of the student, and if the student has any learning difficulties.

Concentration:

If a student has poor or weak concentration, then it will take them a lot longer to learn how to touch type. As touch typing requires a lot of concentration and persistence in learning where the keys are on the keyboard.

Motivation:

If a student is not motivated to learn touch typing, then, unfortunately, they will never learn how to touch type. If they don’t see the benefits of touch typing and rather do it their own way then a student will never learn to touch type correctly and will revert to their own ways (Hunt and Peck method).

Age:

The younger the student age the longer they will take to learn how to touch type. At Searsol, we believe the best age start to touch type is from the age of eight. We feel any younger than eight years old, a student is just not ready to learn to touch type successfully due to the size of their hands and lack of concentration.

Learning difference:

If a student has a learning difficulty such as dyslexia, dyspraxia (DCD), dysgraphia, then this student will take longer to learn how to touch type compared to a student that doesn’t have these learning difficulties. We feel for these students classroom learning is the best solution for a child that has learning differences. At Searsol, we offer a free trial for students who want to experience our classroom learning. A free trial is available by clicking on the following link (Ireland only). We also offer a free seven-day trial online click on the following link

 

How long does it take to learn how to touch-typing?

So going back to the question, how long does it take to learn to touch type. An average student without learning differences would learn to touch type within eight to ten hours. They might be touch typing at a very slow speed (8 – 15  words per minute).

Bronze standard – 15 words per minute

 

A student who attains 15 words per minute or greater will be rewarded with our bronze badge on Typewiz.  This would take approximately 10 hours to achieve for the average student doing the Typewiz course. 

Silver standard – 25 words per minute

The next level on Typewiz is our silver badge which is 25 words or greater. An average student would need to do around 30 hours on Typewiz to get to this level.

Gold standard – 40 words per minute

Forty words per minute is where a student can touch type faster than they can write which is an amazing achievement! It is the gold standard on Typewiz and for most students very difficult to achieve. It requires a student to put in an additional forty hours of practice using Typwiz. 

If a student achieves the gold badge on Typewiz. Then this is a great advantage to have for a student, as they progress through secondary school, third level and onto work. Typing faster than writing without ever having to look down at the keyboard!

Typewiz.com – a new innovative way to learn how to touch type!

Typewiz online typing tutor for kids

 

Our new typing tutor typewiz.com  is now available to any student that wants to learn how to touch type.

  • Typewiz is a new fun and interactive way to learn to touch type.
  • Students get to select different avatars as they progress up the lessons.
  • Students can earn coins based on their performance on the course.
  • Coins can then be used in our games arcade where each coin spent allows the student to access one game.
  • Students can earn different word-per-minute badges (Bronze, Silver, or Gold) as they become faster at typing.
  • Students can earn lesson badges as they progress up the lessons.
  • Realistic hands with a green finger show the user what keyboard button to press.
  • Graphs of all previous percentage scores with Words Per Minute (WPM) are available to access for the student at all times.
  • Typewiz is a self-paced course that allows students to work at their own pace in a classroom environment or at home.
  • Typewiz is also available through our Searsol centres monitored by our professional Searsol tutors (Ireland only). 

If you are interested in finding out more information about Typewiz. Visit our website at www.typewiz.com  Free seven-day trial available.

 

Why do you need to touch type in the 21st century?

Typewiz.com – be a wiz at touch-typing!

 

 

 

 

 

We were recently why was there still a need to touch type in the 21st century. It was a good question and with the advent of new technologies, such as smartphones, tablets, hybrid laptops and text to speech. Maybe there isn’t such a need for touch-typing or was there?

 Hunt and Peck

The hunt and peck typing method is a very popular method to input text on the keyboard. This is where a person types but moves his fingers around the keyboard until the find the correct letters. Where a person can type sufficiently using the hunt and peck method, it is still error-prone and can reduce the efficiency of the person typing compared to a person who can touch type. 

Touch typing/keyboarding

Touch typing (also called keyboarding) is typing without using the sense of sight to find the keys. Specifically, a touch typist will know their location on the keyboard through muscle memory. In today’s competitive job market, it is important for anyone applying for any job that involves the use of computers to learn to touch type. And it is not stretching it to suggest being able to type fast without looking at the keyboard is a 21st-century basic skill in computers.

Advantages of touch typing

The main advantages of touch typing are as follows:

Speed

Touch typing training can improve an individual’s typing speed and accuracy dramatically. The accepted average typing speed is 40 WPM (words per minute), professional career typists can exceed 100 WPM repeatedly and continuously (secretarial, data entry, etc.). Every individual learns at a different pace, and routine practice is required to maintain a high typing speed and accuracy.

Reduced switching of attention

A touch typist does not need to look down at the keyboard (that is obscured with fingers and maybe poorly lit) and other areas that require attention. This increases productivity and reduces the number of errors.

Overall the payback from learning how to touch type outways the inefficiency of other input methods. Once you have the skill it will stay with you for the rest of your life. So how do you start to touch-type? Why not try our seven days free trial of our typing tutor Typewiz? For more information go to www.typewiz.com

 

Now that you have been awarded a laptop exemption to type out your Junior or Leaving cert – what do you do next?

Searsol after school touch typing classes
Searsol after school touch typing classes

Now that you have been awarded a laptop exemption to type out your Junior or Leaving Cert – what next?

Having to sit through State exams answering questions with pen and paper for hours at a time is all very well for those for whom writing poses no problems, but what about students who struggle to form letters and words?

Thankfully the Irish State Examinations Commission registers the fact that many students today have difficulty with writing. In recognition of this and the fact that typing is now the accepted professional version of writing, exemptions are now readily available for those seeking to type rather than write their exam responses.

If you or your child has already been awarded an exemption to use a laptop/word processor for your Junior/Leaving Cert due to a handwriting impairment, here at Searsol we extend our congratulations.

For those still in the process of applying for the exemption, please note that the Department of Education will be looking for proof that your child can, or is in the process of learning how to type. At the end of the day, the exemption will be granted on the basis that your child’s typing skills are better than their handwriting skills.

Searsol touch-typing courses

In order to ensure your child masters correct touch-typing skills, Searsol runs a series of after-school touch-typing classes for children and young adults that are designed to help each individual learn correct touch-typing practice at their own pace.

Searsol provides touch typing courses nationwide. Our classes are delivered in a classroom setting. We use our own touch typing tutor Typewiz which consists of a series of lessons to help students advance from beginner to proficient touch typist. Tutors work individually and collectively with students to help them progress through the course in order to gain proficiency. They are monitored by trained tutors who checks that they are doing the correct finger placement.

Students can revise over previously completed exercises at home using their own login details.

Please feel free to get in touch with your nearest Searsol provider – course details are available here on our website.

Typewiz is also available to access from the home. You can sign up to Typewiz by going to Typewiz.com

Exemption guidelines

According to the guidelines for State exams, as set out by the State Examinations Commission, the use of mechanical aid, such as a word processor, is appropriate where it can be established that a candidate’s ability to produce a legible script is compromised.

There are two separate categories under which a student may be deemed eligible for this exemption from handwriting, as follows:

  1. Illegible handwriting – which renders a script unintelligible due to the frequency of spelling/grammar/punctuation errors.
  2. Slow writing – where the rate of writing is so slow that it renders a student unable to complete exams.

In order to apply for an exemption from writing, students must submit a completed Junior Certificate/Leaving Certificate reasonable accommodations application form, outlining the particular difficulty, and this must be signed by the school principal.

The Commission accepts the school’s confirmation on the application as sufficient evidence to permit an exemption.

Once you have been awarded your exemption to use a word processor, you will also be exempt from having your exam answer assessed in regard to spelling, punctuation or grammar. This applies specifically to exams in any language subjects (Irish, English, French, Spanish etc). However, students granted the use of a word processor must ensure spell-check and autocorrect are turned off.

Further info on Reasonable Accommodations for Junior and Leaving Certificate Examinations can be found on www.examinations.ie

New developments

The State Examinations Commission now approves exemptions for Junior Cert students can also be carried through at Leaving Certificate.

Prior to this students had to make fresh applications for each exam.

The Commission also agreed that exemptions can be granted in cases where dyslexia has not been formally diagnosed. Welcoming this progress, the Dyslexia Association of Ireland issued a statement, as follows:

The Dyslexia Association of Ireland (DAI) welcomes some much needed positive changes to the implementation of Reasonable Accommodations for the Junior and Leaving Certificate. The DAI has lobbied and advocated for a change to this unfair and unnecessarily stressful system for many years and is pleased that students with dyslexia and their parents will be operating under a fairer system from now on.

The accommodations are intended to limit the impact of the candidate’s disability on their exam performance, while not giving the candidate an unfair advantage.

The options students with dyslexia can apply for if they meet the criteria are:
• Access to a Reader
• Use of a Recording Device or Word Processor/Laptop
• Access to a Scribe
• Waiver from the assessment of spelling, grammar and punctuation in the language subjects

The Association noted two key changes to the 2017 Reasonable Accommodations at Certificate Examinations (RACE) scheme, as follows:

  1. Reasonable Accommodations that were granted for the Junior Certificate will now be reactivated at Leaving Certificate level. This is on the condition that the school can confirm that the student still has an identified and continuing need. This means that the State Examinations Commission (SEC) will, in most cases, accept the reactivation recommendations from the school and there should be no need for further testing of attainment levels.
  2. Previous to these changes dyslexic students applied for RACE under the category of ‘Specific Learning Difficulty’. This category has now changed to ‘Learning Difficulty’. In light of this change cognitive/IQ scores are no longer required or a formal SLD/dyslexia diagnosis. This means that more students will be able to access accommodations, e.g. students who perhaps haven’t yet had a formal diagnosis of dyslexia, as well as students with more general or multiple learning difficulties.

The Dyslexia Association further notes that at present, the only assistive technology option available to a student with dyslexia is a word processor/laptop.

However, it is important to note that the SEC has stated that it is open to individual applications made through the school for the use of other assistive technology provided it meets the following criteria:
It must be already being used by the student (therefore the student could use their own equipment and there would be no additional cost to its approval for use in a State exam.)
• The SEC is satisfied that is will not jeopardise the integrity of the exam.
• It requires no development work from the SEC in relation to its exam papers.

 

The Association offers the following advice to students who have yet to apply for exemptions:

Applications Process

All applications for RACE will be made through the school using a common set of forms. You must indicate on the forms that you are making an application under ‘Learning Difficulty’ if you are dyslexic. There are separate sets of application forms for Junior and Leaving Certificate and they have separate application deadlines.

The following are the forms that must be filled out in relation to RACE at Junior Certificate level:

RACE Scheme Junior Certificate Application Form (RA5) – This is the standard application form for RACE at Junior Certificate Level.
RACE Scheme Junior Certificate Late Applications Form (RA6) – This form is used for late RACE applications.

The following are the forms that must be filled out in relation to RACE at Leaving Certificate level:

RACE Scheme Leaving Certificate Reactivation Form (Form RA1) – This should be used when applying for the reactivation of accommodations from Junior Certificate. It is also acceptable to use this form to apply for the use of a word processor rather than a scribe if a scribe was granted at Junior Certificate.

RACE Scheme Leaving Certificate Application for New Accommodations (Form RA2). This form can be used to apply for RACE for students who meet the criteria but did not receive any accommodations in their Junior Certificate OR where a student needs additional accommodations to the ones that were granted at Junior Cert.

Race Scheme Leaving Certificate Late Application Form (Form RA3). This form can be used to make a late application for RACE at Leaving Certificate. It should be noted that there is still a deadline for late applications and that schools will have to furnish the SEC with a reason for the application being submitted late.

Further information on laptop exemptions

The Dyslexia Association of Ireland carries further up-to-date details on its website regarding exemptions open to students entering third-level, as follows:

Accommodations at Third Level

Many third-level colleges and examination bodies make provision for dyslexic students taking written exams.  These provisions can include being given extra time, being allowed to use a word processor/computer, having the specific difficulty is taken into account when marking the exam paper, etc.

Students should consult with the Disability Officer in their college, their Tutor or Course Director, to find out precisely what provisions may be available.

Please contact your nearest Searsol after school typing centre for details on our touch-typing classes to ensure your child has the chance to perform at their best in State exams. Your child can also access Typewiz.com from the comfort of your home. Go to Typewiz.com for more details.

Why touch typing is beneficial for children with dyspraxia (DCD)?

Why touch typing is beneficial for children with dyspraxia (DCD)?
Why touch typing is beneficial for children with dyspraxia (DCD)?

Why touch typing is beneficial for children with dyspraxia (DCD)?

 

Dyspraxia (DCD) is a difficulty with thinking out, planning, and carrying out sensory/motor tasks. A recent study of nearly 7,000 seven and eight-year-olds in the UK found that just under two children in every 100 may have dyspraxia. This study used strict criteria for diagnosing the condition, which may explain why other sources suggest that six or eight people in every 100 may have dyspraxia.

Dyspraxia is more common in boys and sometimes runs in families. It may also occur alongside other conditions, such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder ADHD.

Dyspraxia can make the process of writing laborious and even painful. This is why touch typing (keyboarding) is so frequently recommended for those with dyspraxia. Becoming more familiar with the keyboard or learning to touch type (being able to type with multiple fingers without looking at the keyboard) can be very helpful for children.

Once students are able to touch type successfully with accuracy and speed. This can help students unlock their potential and transfer easily their ideas onto electronic format without the frustration experienced when handwriting.  Creativity is unlocked and the student’s self-esteem greatly enhanced.

The keyboard has many important advantages:

  • It increases legibility and clarity of presentation
  • Increased speed of the input
  • Spelling – learning physical letter patterns on the keyboard can be helpful with the spelling of some words
  • Reduces the physical pressure and concentration of handwriting- pressing a key can be much easier than manipulating a pen or pencil
  • Editing work is easier
  • Confidence. The keyboard may allow the child to record work more independently and to produce the required work in the time allowed.

At Searsol, we have worked with children with dyspraxia to teach them how to learn to touch type. Children with dyspraxia need careful guidance and help so they can master the skills of touch typing.  Searsol offers touch typing courses in our typing centres

Touch typing compared to voice recognition software

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Touch typing (also called keyboarding) is typing without using the sense of sight to find the keys. Specifically, a touch typist will know their location on the keyboard through muscle memory. In today’s competitive job market, it is important for anyone applying for any job that involves the use of computers to learn to touch type. And it is not stretching it to suggest being able to type fast without looking at the keyboard is a 21st-century basic skill in computers.

Voice-recognition software allows you to convert voice to text. This has been available on computers and software such as Dragon Software, Text Aloud or Express scribe has allowed computer users to convert voice to text. But put it on a smartphone, and it comes to life. All of the frustrations of trying to control your PC by voice, fiddling for a microphone, repeating yourself, again and again, resisting the urge to relent and turn to your trusty keyboard.

These are eliminated when you use the same technology on your mobile phone. Mobile apps such as Google voice, Vlingo and Siri have allowed people to convert voice to text on the go with ease. So is the new way of doing things and should we not bother to learn how to type as these apps are doing the same job as typing?

The main disadvantage of voice recognition software are as follows:

Lack of Accuracy and Misinterpretation

Voice recognition software won’t always put your words on the screen completely accurately. Programs cannot understand the context of language the way that humans can, leading to errors that are often due to misinterpretation. When you talk to people, they decode what you say and give it a meaning. Voice recognition software can do this but may not be capable of choosing the correct meaning. For example, it cannot always differentiate between homonyms, such as “their” and “there.” It may also have problems with slang, technical words and acronyms.

Time Costs and Productivity

You might think that computerising a process speeds it up, but this isn’t necessarily true of voice recognition systems, and you may have to invest more time than you expected into the process. You’ll have to factor in time to review and edit to correct errors. Some programs adapt to your voice and speech patterns over time; this may slow down your workflow until the program is up to speed. You’ll also have to learn how to use the system. For example, you must find the right pace and tone — if you talk too fast or indistinctly, you’ll increase spelling and grammar errors. Getting used to using a system’s commands and speaking punctuation out loud is not always easy. This can affect the flow and speed of your speech.

Accents and speech recognition

Voice recognition systems can have problems with accents. Even though some may learn to your speech patterns over time, you have to learn to talk consistently and clearly at all times to minimize errors. If you mumble, talk too fast or run words into each other, the software will not always be able to cope. Programs may also have problems recognizing speech as normal if your voice changes, say when you have a cold, cough, sinus or throat problem.

Background Noise Interference

To get the best out of voice recognition software, you need a quiet environment. Systems don’t work so well if there is a lot of background noise. They may not be able to differentiate between your speech, other people talking and other ambient noise, leading to transcription mix-ups and errors. This can cause problems if you work in a busy office or a noisy environment. Wearing microphones or noise-cancelling headsets can help voice recognising software reduce the effects of noise.

Physical Side Effects

If you use voice recognition technology frequently, you may experience some physical discomfort and vocal problems. Talking for extended periods can cause hoarseness, dry mouth, muscle fatigue, temporary loss of voice and vocal strain. The fact that you aren’t talking naturally may make this worse and you may need to learn how to protect your voice if you’ll use a program regularly.

To summarise voice recognition can have its benefits, such as being able to input voice to text on the go using smartphones. But the main disadvantages outline above makes voice technology a handy add on to the basic input of touch typing. So there will always be a need to touch type. Why not learn how to touch typing using our online typing tutor Typewiz designed specifically for children? More details are available on Typewiz.com Searsol provides touch typing courses in check out the nearest typing centre near you by clicking on the following link.