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.

 

Touch typing compared to voice recognition software

Kids typing tutor
Typewiz.com – be a wiz at typing!

v’svoice

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.

 

 

Should you teach your child how to touch type?

 

As every parent knows it is difficult to be a teacher and parent with your child. While a parents role is to nourish, encourage and motivate your child achievements. A teachers job is to instil a routine of learning that helps a student learn their subject in the easiest way based on the student’s abilities. Where the problem arises is when you become both the teacher and the parent.

The problem is that sometimes you be in your best attention try too hard to encourage your child to learn a subject, that you become the pushy parent and your child rebels and won’t listen to you. The end result is that your child doesn’t learn and it is up not learning the subject matter that you wanted them to learn. It really depends on your relationship with your child, your teaching abilities and the child focus on success and motivation to learn a subject.

To learn touch typing requires effort and dedication. A student would need to put in the least 20 hours of solid learning before they will be able to master the keyboard. Even then their speed would be quite slow but they would be aware of the keyboard buttons and be able to select them without looking at them.

As a parent, if you want your child to learn to touch type, the options are as follows:

  1. Hope that your school teaches touch typing as part of the computer curriculum. Most schools don’t so best check with your school on this.
  2. Learn how to touch type at home. This is a great idea but it really depends on your child and set about a dedicated time to achieve this. A child needs to be actively monitored and ensure that correct fingers are on the home keys.
  3. Send your child to a trained professional who has taught children how to touch type. This is really the ideal way to learn how to touch type. Your child is an environment with similar children of the age profile learning how to touch type.

Learning how to touch type does require patience, motivation and concentration but it can be learnt by anyone. We recommend the ideal start age is for a child to be the primary age group from eight onwards. If a child picks learns how to touch type before they enter secondary school then they have managed to master a major skill that will benefit them in the long run.

As Searsol, we offer the possibility to learn how to touch type online with our online typing tutor (www.typewiz.com).  More details are available on www.typewiz.com. We also offer dedicated typing centres in Ireland. To check out the location, click on https://searsol.com/find-centers/. We also run intense computer camps that teach touch typing over Easter and Summer, to check out our camps, click on the following link http://searsolcomputercamps.com

 

20 simple and easy tips to get you touch typing!

Learn how to Touch Type fast – 20 simple and easy tips to get you to touch-typing!

Typewiz.com – be a wiz at touch typing!

 

 

 

 

 

Touch typing is the ability to type without looking at the keyboard. It is a memory skill that requires practice and patience. Correct habit formation can help you learn how to touch type successfully.

Ensure that you are sitting correctly with two feet on the ground and the keyboard in alignment with your body. Sit up straight, feet to the floor, elbows at my side, eyes only on the text and never on the keyboard.

sitting on computer

Introduce your hands to the home keys – left hand will use asdf, the right hand will use jkl;. Curve your fingers on the home keys and only ever move the finger that needs pressing on the key. The F and J keys will have a little bump on them to help you find them without looking down at the keyboard

Typewiz.com – be a wiz at typing!

Always return your fingers to home keys before selecting another key on the keyboard.

Try and maintain a rhythm when you are typing.

Use the thumb to press the spacebar.

Always correct errors by raising your little finger up to the backspace button

Take regular breaks when learning how to type.

Don’t use the cap locks button when trying to capitalise a letter, use the shift keys instead. There is two shift keys on a keyboard, the shift key to left operates the buttons to right and shift key to right operates the key to the left.

Take your time when learning how to type, speed will come naturally once you have memorised the keys on the keyboard.

Use a keyboard cover, to cover the keys on the keyboards. We recommend the use of speekskin cover, this is the one we use in our tying centres.

Practice at least one hour per week. Practice! Practice! Practice!

When learning how to touch type, expect typing to decrease initially compared to how you normally would touch type.

Know your keyboard. Familiarise yourself where the keys on the keyboard are by clicking on keys suggested on the typing tutor you are using. By making mistakes initially you are learning to touch type successfully in the long term.

Stretching – when you fingers get stiff. Take a rest and give them a good shake for a minute. This will help increase the blood flow into your fingers.

Accuracy – it is more important to be accurate when starting off at typing. Accuracy helps you learn the keys on the keyboard more quickly.

A key has to pressed by the same finger all the time on the keyboard.

Keep a record of your problem keys and practice correcting them.

Take breaks from typing by playing typing games.

Practice using real words and sentences, this can be used in real-life projects.

Stay motivated and enjoy as the reward from learning how to type will be the biggest skill that you ever learn.

Typewiz

Typewiz is a fun and interactive way to learn how to touch type.

Typewiz offers the following benefits:

  • It is a new fun and interactive way to learn to touch type.
  • Your child gets to select different avatars as they progress up the lessons.
  • Kids 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.
  • Your child can earn different word per minute badges (Bronze, Silver or Gold) as they become faster at typing.
  • Kids can earn lesson badges as they progress up the lessons.
  • 3D hands with a green finger which shows 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 which allows students to work at their own pace.

For more information about Typewiz, check out typing tutor at www.typewiz.com

Why the QWERTY keyboard has survived compared to more easier input keyboard layouts?

Do you know why QWERTY keyboard has survived so long? We outline the history of keyboard layout to you.

Qwerty

Mechanical Typewriters: 1870’s

In 1872, Remington Company produced the first mechanical typewriter, patented by Latham Sholes. Typists soon mastered the skill to typing that they were going so fast that were jamming the typewriter keys which flew up to hit the typewriter ribbon. In the late 1870’s, instead of solving the problem of why the typewriter was jamming, Remington redesigns the keyboard layout so as to slow down the typist by introducing the QWERTY keyboard. The “improved” QWERTY layout was designed to slow down typing and prevent typewriter keys from jamming anymore by slowing down the typist.

Electric Typewriters: 1930’s – Dvorak

Electric typewriters solve the problem of the keys jamming and new keyboards layouts were introduced. In 1936, August Dvorak patented a new layout to reduce finger reach and strain by putting common letters on the home row and to avoid awkward use of key pairs  to improve speed. Here’s the Dvorak keyboard:

Dvorak
Design criteria sound good, so what’s wrong with this keyboard? Almost all letters move from their familiar QWERTY locations. The change was too big and relearning of this new keyboard layout would have taken people a month to get familiar with the Dvorak keyboard. Hence the uptake on this new design was poor with typist preferring to stick with QWERTY keyboard for typing.

Personal Computers: 1970’s

With the introduction of the personal computer in 1970’s, there was another opportunity to change from the standard QWERTY keyboard layout. But the QWERTY keyboard remained as Computers manufactures wanted the typist to engage with the computers. To make the change over to computers less of a hassle and to reduce the learning curve, the keyboard design was not changed.

Colemak

In 2006, a programmer named Shai Coleman released an alternative keyboard layout called Colemak. Just as Dvorak was a response to QWERTY’s shortcomings, Colemak addresses the failures of Dvorak but does so in a way that doesn’t alienate current QWERTY users. The intended result is a layout that aims for speed, efficiency, minimal repetitive stress injuries, and an easy learning curve for QWERTY  typists.

colemak

The beauty of Colemak is that there are only 17 differences in key placement between it and QWERTY, yet those 17 differences are more than enough to create a radically improved typing environment. All other keys remain the same. As such, QWERTY users should not be afraid to learn Colemak.

 

Colemak eliminates virtually all cases of frequent letters in “stretched finger” locations. For example, Dvorak places ‘L’ in the QWERTY ‘P’ spot, which requires frequent stretching of the pinky. The positions of other keys have also been optimized with Colemak, such as moving the high-frequency ‘R’ and ‘I’ keys to the home row.

So should you change from QWERTY to learn a new keyboard layout?

If you spend most of your day typing on a computer, it’s worth looking into. The speed gains and injury reductions are real and they do add up over time. However, there are some things that you’ll want to keep in mind.

You’ll experience a big drop in typing speed while learning a new layout. A typical person trying to learning would need to set aside a whole month to learn a new keyboard layout. However, with the help of typing tutors such as our own Typewiz which helps you learn how to touch type in a fun and interactive way.  For more details about Typewiz check out our website www.typewiz.com

Typewiz – be a wiz a typing

 

 

 

 

 

Keyboard shortcuts can be an inconvenience. Due to Dvorak’s drastically different layout, shortcuts like CTRL+C (COPY), CTRL+ V (Paste) and CTRL + X (Cut) can be a pain. Colemak is less of a pain due to its similarities to QWERTY, but the differences still exist and you may find yourself frustrated from time to time when you accidentally hit the wrong shortcut keys.

Lastly, other computers will still be QWERTY. This isn’t a big deal but if you are using multiple devices  it can be problematic if you switch computers a lot, or if other people use your computer it can cause problems and time delays in typing.

For me, the QWERTY keyboard is here to stay and it has been part of keyboard history and will not be changed. So it importing to learn typing on a QWERTY keyboard using a typing tutor is important. Why not book a free first session trial at our course centres where your child can learn how to touch type assisted by our trained professional tutors..

Will you stick with QWERTY or switch to an alternative? Or maybe you have already switched? Tell us what you think in the comments below!