In short, yes absolutely! When students are diagnosed with a specific learning difference like children with dyslexia, ‘learn to touch type’ is often the recommendation that is written in an Educational Psychologist’s assessment report. Touch typing gives students with dyslexia with an alternative way to learn. Touch typing uses ‘muscle memory’ where you train the hands and fingers to remember where the finger goes for each letter.
What is dyslexia?
This is the definition of dyslexia according to the British Dyslexia Association (BDA).
“Dyslexia is a learning difficulty that primarily affects the skills involved in accurate and fluent word reading and spelling. Characteristic features of dyslexia are difficulties in phonological awareness, verbal memory and verbal processing speed. The BDA acknowledges the visual and auditory processing difficulties that some individuals with dyslexia can experience. Some also have strengths in other areas such as design, problem solving, creative skills, interactive skills and oral skills.”
How can dyslexia affect a child’s confidence and learning?
Dyslexia affects reading, writing and spelling but it can also affect a child’s confidence and self-esteem and this can often be seen in the classroom. Despite the difficulties that they sometimes face, there is no doubt that children with dyslexia are competent at understanding complicated ideas but sometimes need a little more time to process the information.
Why is touch typing helpful for children with dyslexia?
Creating muscle memory, turns spelling into a pattern of keystrokes, reducing the likelihood of mistakes in transposing or spelling words. After a period of weeks or months of practice, eventually this process becomes automatic. It basically means that the fingers are moving unconsciously without thinking. This frees up the brain to focus on what is being written rather than on the actual mechanical method of writing.
Once your child has learnt how to touch type, it means that they can use a laptop in class to support their learning as well as type in their exams. Learning to touch type is a no brainer for all young students, but essential to learn for those children with dyslexia.
What benefits does touch typing give children with dyslexia?
In recent years technology has really helped those children with dyslexia. It can give them a huge confidence boost. An article by the Guardian, states that touch typing can provide a vital confidence boost as it ‘gives dyslexic children the kind automaticity they struggle with when learning to write by hand.”
Learning to touch type can offer a huge number of benefits and from our experience at Type IT!, here are just a few of the main ones…
➡️ Help with spelling
Touch typing can help with the reinforcement of phonic knowledge by using muscle memory to help with word spellings from the repetition of finger patterns on the keyboard.
➡️ Letting their ideas flow naturally
The formation of letters and words on paper can be a long painful process for some dyslexic children. With touch typing, they can let their ideas flow from their fingers and onto the screen without any interruptions.
➡️ Keeping up in class
If your child can touch type, it means they can then use their laptop in class; typing at the same speed as the teacher is speaking. They will be on a level playing field with their peers helping them with their overall confidence.
➡️ Easy note taking
Touch typing offers a huge advantage where your child can make notes from writing on the board without having to look down. It means they can focus and not lose track on where they are.
➡️ Help with creativity
Touch typing allows your child to write stories with ease; thinking and typing at the same time.
➡️ Easily correct errors
With touch typing, your child can correct errors in real time as they type which saves them having to scan and correct their work afterwards.
➡️ Help with overall reading
More exposure to words and word patterns on the screen can help with sight reading of everyday words. As touch typing is a very tactile process where you make tapping sounds on the keys, this can help your child remember the sounds that make up tricky words.
➡️ No more worry about holding a pen!
If your child is touch typing, they never have the worry and frustration of holding a pen in the right way to make a mark.
➡️ Less stress in exams
Just being able to get their thoughts down on paper quickly without the worry of holding a pen and making a mark on the paper. Also to be able to correct their work quickly, on the fly, as they are typing. No need to waste time make messy crossings out or losing where they were in their thoughts. It will make exam time a much less stressful time for the whole family.
➡️ A more fluid way of working and thinking
Using touch typing to create ideas on paper means that your child isn’t having to think in a linear way. They can get their thoughts down and then restructure them later on. This is a much more fluid and flexible way of thinking and takes the pressure off them. It means they are less worried about ‘getting it wrong’ which in turn leads to an increase in overall confidence.
➡️ Typing faster at the speed of thought
Obviously, the main advantage of touch typing is the ability to type faster. It means that your child is able to ‘write’ faster, saving them time, helping to make learning so much easier and more enjoyable.
➡️ No more messy handwriting!
When touch typists have learnt the skill correctly, they are very accurate in their typing and if they do make mistakes, they learn to quickly correct them by pressing the backspace key. Touch typing in an exam means no more losing marks for illegible handwriting.
➡️ Improvement in exam grades
In exams, touch typing will help your child concentrate on producing good content rather than on what their fingers are doing.
➡️ Increased confidence
It goes without saying that being able to get thoughts down on paper quickly without having to struggle with a pen and losing focus and concentration is going to increase your child’s confidence. Scribbles and crossings out on paper can be very disheartening for a young person to see and it can also make it difficult for them to read back through their work.
What age should my dyslexic child learn to touch type?
Some schools ask that students have a good competency of touch typing before they can use their device in school. This will vary from school to school and it’s worth asking the SENDCo at your child’s school if there is a minimum speed and accuracy which is required.
Some schools that we know of request a minimum of 40 words per minute which is a high speed requirement. Others don’t have any requirement, but you still want to ensure that they can use their laptop confidently and can keep up at the same pace as their peers in class.
If your child is dyslexic and wants to be able to use a computer for exams, for access arrangements to be in place, they will need to demonstrate that they are using their laptop with touch typing as part of their everyday learning.
With these points in mind, we recommend that you don’t leave learning to touch type until the last minute such as a few months before exam season! We have had some parents contact us two weeks before a child’s first exam! In an ideal world, your child should be touch typing for about a year before using their laptop in an exam.
How long will it take for my dyslexic child to learn touch typing?
If your child is dyslexic and needs to learn how to touch type, the earlier your child can start learning the skill, the better. I would say from age 9 is a good age to start, but certainly before they start senior school. But don’t worry if they are older than that and haven’t started. It’s not too late. But you do need to give them at least 10 weeks and sometimes longer to learn the how to touch type properly. Every child is different.
The advantages of learning to touch type are significant for any student; but for those with dyslexia learning to touch type can be life changing. It has the potential to improve communication skills, enhance literacy and ensure that students are reaching their true potential.
How can TypeIt! help children with dyslexia?
At Type IT!, we work with many children with dyslexia who find it extremely difficult to get their ideas down onto paper. Many also have problems with handwriting where it’s either painful to write or where their handwriting is messy or illegible. Sometimes students can even lose marks in exams if the examiner cannot read their writing.
Quite often, when people choose to learn how to touch type, mistakes can still happen. Take the B key for instance. A lot of people use the right index finger to type it, but it should be the left. Also with the C key. Many use their left index finger, but it should be the middle finger. When learning the shift key, many typists just use the caps lock key, which is very inefficient. Or they use the wrong side shift keys. You can’t hold the left Shift key and A at the same time for instance!
Each finger on the keyboard has a specific series of keys to type, and it’s important that they are moving in the correct way to ensure they are most productive.
We offer a specialist typing course for children with dyslexia. It is a rolling touch typing course without any fixed finish date which allows a student to go at their own pace with their dedicated tutor sensitively adapting their lesson plan to suit their needs. The course ensures that the child is not overwhelmed, ensuring that they enjoy the learning experience and finish with an excellent result and as confident touch typers.
Check out our range of touch typing courses to see which would suit your needs and enable you to learn how to type faster and enroll online. Alternatively, give us a call on 020 3962 2059 to have a friendly chat about how we can help you!