Developing Handwriting & Typing Skills

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  • 0:01 Writing vs. Typing
  • 1:05 Handwriting Development
  • 2:43 Typing Development
  • 4:48 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Natalie Boyd

Natalie is a teacher and holds an MA in English Education and is in progress on her PhD in psychology.

Learning both handwriting skills and typing skills offers benefits to children. In this lesson, we'll look at the benefits of each and common developmental patterns when children are learning to print, write cursive, and type.

Writing vs. Typing

Liz is a mom, and she knows she should be helping her son, Stone, learn to communicate with the written word, but she isn't sure what she should be focusing on. When she was a kid, they learned to write in cursive, but now she thinks it might be better to skip handwriting lessons and focus on typing skills. What should she do?

There are benefits to both teaching kids handwriting skills and teaching them typing skills. On one hand, handwriting skills engage more areas of the brain, offering many chances to develop fine motor skills, as well as actual handwriting. On the other, typing offers more practical, real-world skills. After all, how many people today need to write in cursive? Not nearly as many as need to be able to type well!

Whether Liz focuses on teaching Stone handwriting skills or whether she teaches him to type, there are certain milestones she'll need to look out for. Let's examine more closely the patterns of development for both handwriting and typing skills.

Handwriting Development

If Liz decides to teach Stone handwriting skills, she'll likely notice the same general sequence of progress that most parents and teachers notice in children. That's because there are certain steps that students go through in the development of handwriting skills.

Stage 1 is prewriting, or the controlled scribble stage. During this time, Stone and other children like him are still scribbling on paper, instead of actual writing. But they are in control of their scribbles. They may begin to draw circles or spirals on the paper, or shapes that kind of look like letters. But, they haven't actually started writing yet.

In Stage 2, or the tentative printing stage, children like Stone will begin to write letters and short words. But, their handwriting is tentative, meaning that their letters may be ill-formed, and they take a long time and much concentration to write them out.

Stage 3 is the fluent printing stage. At this point, Stone and his classmates will be able to print clearly and with relative ease. Their fine motor skills will allow them to write with more precision, and they have practiced enough that it doesn't take as long to write something out as it did in Stage 2.

Once Stone has reached Stage 3, Liz can teach him cursive, which is Stage 4. During this stage, Stone will learn how to write in cursive. Like printing, he will likely start out writing cursive tentatively and slowly, but develop into a proficient writer.

Typing Development

Liz understands the four basic stages of handwriting development, but she wonders if they are different for typing. Are there also four stages in typing development? How do they differ from the stages of handwriting development?

Stage 1 of typing development is the hunt and peck stage. During this stage, Stone will type with only the index finger on one or both of his hands. For each letter, he will visually scan the keyboard until he can find the letter, and then he will press it. It's like he's hunting for each letter on the keyboard, which is why it's called the hunt and peck stage. This takes a long time!

The good news is, with practice, Stone will move out of the hunt and peck stage. Stage 2 involves two-or-three-finger typing. At this point, Stone will still likely only be using his index fingers and perhaps one or two other fingers. But, he's getting a better sense of where all the letters on the keyboard are, and so things move faster. He still has to look for letters, but it takes him less time.

Another distinction between Stages 1 and 2 of typing development is the ability to press more than one key at a time. In Stage 1, many students will hit the caps lock key when they need to capitalize a letter, and then hit it again to turn it off after the capital letter is typed. In Stage 2, though, they learn to hold down the Shift Key to capitalize a letter.

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