Let me be honest: much of the new key stage 2 interim assessment framework for writing bothers me. And that is putting it politely.

One of the major things that struck me was the focus on joined-up handwriting. It’s not that I don’t think neat, legible handwriting is important; I just don’t think it’s a deal breaker for being a great writer. Many (greater) writers would probably agree.

All this fuss about handwriting got me thinking about the relevance of handwriting in this day and age and, not for the first time, I can’t help but wonder if we’re not doing a disservice to our young people by not devoting proper time to teaching them how to type effectively, too.

I don’t think that school is just about preparing children for the real world and that children should only be taught stuff that they’re going to use later in life – that stance bothers me almost as much as the obsession with joined-up handwriting. Sometimes it’s great to learn stuff just because.

However, I do think being able to type is a pretty important skill for education, employment and, well, everything.

I type a lot and I can type fast and it makes my life a whole lot easier. I’ve observed people who I know, who have to type quite a lot themselves, typing painfully, with one finger from each hand almost stabbing at the keys, and it makes me think that expecting people – especially pupils – to get better at typing just by osmosis doesn’t always work.

Typing games

So if we want to help our students get quicker and more accurate at typing, what can we do?

One of the first typing games I came across was the BBC’s Dance Mat Typing. There are four levels to work through, with each one split into four stages.

My Year 6 pupils also enjoyed the touch typing games in the 2Type app on PurpleMash.com – they got rather competitive about who was the quickest, most accurate typist.

Some of the online games, like typingclub.com, also touch on the importance of posture when typing, which is something that’s often forgotten in a world of mobile devices. It also starts out by pointing out the bumps on the F and J keys and using the index fingers on your left and right hands to locate these – using these two letters as a way to locate the other keys.

Ultimately, a quick Google search will lead you to a heap of possible online typing tools, many of which are free. The real issue is finding the time to allow children to develop these skills in an educational landscape where the handwritten word seems to be king.

Claire Lotriet is a teacher at Henwick Primary School in London. She tweets at @OhLottie and blogs at www.clairelotriet.com

This is an article from the 22 April edition of TES. This week’s TES magazine is available in all good newsagents. To subscribe, click here. To download the digital edition, Android users can click here and iOS users can click here

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