One way that occupational therapy providers support students is through assistive technology and using typing activities in occupational therapy is a tool for functional performance. In this blog post, you’ll find typing activities occupational therapy professionals use. You’ll also find a great printable booklet at the end to use to support typing in OT.
Typing Activities Occupational Therapy
Children who struggle with handwriting may benefit from accommodations in the classroom including use of the computer and typing to complete written communication. I’m also sharing strategies and tips on how to implement a keyboarding club to teach keyboarding and computer skills. A keyboarding club can be used as an accommodation to written work, or a necessary functional skill.
Occupational Therapy and Typing
Handwriting can be a difficult and stressful action for many children. What happens when no matter what interventions are attempted, the child simply can not function with the details and cohesiveness of completing all of the “parts” of written work?
There can be a point when kids would be better off just typing as an accommodation in school work. With the use of keyboards and screens available in classrooms, homes, work places, and communities, there is more of a need for independence with keyboarding skills than perhaps in our past generations.
The biggest point to recognize about typing and occupational therapy is that even when typing is used as an assistive technology tool, the OT practitioner is not the typing teacher. Working on typing in therapy sessions won’t lead to functional use. Rather, typing practice needs to occur daily at home and in functional tasks like assignments. Read about carryover of functional tasks for a better understanding of this point.
Children begin computer use when they enter Kindergarten. Children are using computers in the classroom and at home at a very young age. So, when the accommodation of using keyboard skills over handwriting is approached, it can be an easy flow into function.
With modern technologies, keyboarding is as common place as handwriting in the development and growth of a child.
One strategy that can help with improving speed and accuracy as a handwriting modification is the use of a Keyboarding Club or group.
It is suggested by researchers that keyboarding instruction with correct finger placement begin in the third grade. Developmentally, this is an effective time for using finger dexterity skills, visual motor integration abilities, attention and focus, and visual perception needed to shift the vision from multiple planes.
Using keyboarding instruction curriculum can be a viable option for kids who struggle with handwriting. When required to compose thoughts onto paper, underlying handwriting issues may prevent creativity, construction, and fluency of written composition as well as legibility when performing these types of tasks.
A keyboarding program can and should be an intervention to accommodate handwriting needs AND a strategy for development in typical and modern educational needs. Keyboarding is an effective accommodation for struggles with the fine motor, visual perceptual, or sensory needs of handwriting that can be used in the classroom.
While there are many free keyboarding instruction programs available, it can be difficult for parents and teachers to find time within schedules to try and maintain participation in a keyboarding program.
With after school activities, graded homework, and other factors limiting time, participating in activities like a keyboarding program fall in priority. A keyboarding club can be the intervention needed to allow kids to learn the skills needed as an accommodation to handwriting as well as learning keyboarding skills needed for classroom tasks.
Using a keyboarding program can be a helpful alternative to written work, allowing for efficient communication, legibility, and composition of thoughts. Using computer work as an alternative to handwriting may be a necessary intervention in the classroom.
Response to Intervention (RtI) and Keyboarding Skills
As with other educational and functional skills performed in the classroom, Occupational Therapist practitioners may approach treatment with a Response to Intervention (RtI) approach.
Response to Intervention is an approach that addresses each individual student’s learning needs and adjusts education to meet the needs of the student.
Using RtI in a keyboarding program:
Children can first be identified as potential candidates to participate in a keyboarding program. These might be students who would benefit from keyboarding as an accommodation to handwriting. Students should show an interest in participating in a keyboarding program as well.
A keyboarding program using Response to Intervention in the school setting would involve screening, assessment of skills, small group instruction, and progress monitoring. Following instruction and participation in a keyboarding program for a period of several sessions or weeks, students can be re-assessed to monitor progress. When progress is limited, there are other keyboarding programs that can be of help.
As with any instructional program, keyboarding can be a novel and fun concept at first. However, after repeated trials of practice and quizzes, it can become boring for children. Without a drive to learn to type correctly, kids may quit, give up, or balk at participation. Keeping that in mind, keyboarding programs should involve creative ways to practice skills such as speed, finger placement, and accuracy.
At the start of a keyboarding program and before beginning instruction, students should be assessed in speed of copying a sentence using handwriting, typing speed, and accuracy on a keyboard writing assignment. It has been found that students whose typing speed equaled or exceeded their handwriting speed showed greater competence in the content
of narrative writing when using a word processor than
Related Read: Try these handwriting accommodation strategies to address a variety of handwriting challenges.
Occupational Therapy Typing Activities
Other tasks that may be included in a keyboarding club include:
- Computer component identification
- Supply organization (including folder with practice sheets, etc)
- Ability to turn on, re-boot, and access, start, and shut down software programs
- Storing files on a computer
- Accessing stored files on a computer
- Composing emails, letters, and filling in forms
- Proofreading and editing
- Completing writing prompts without copying from a text
Assign a color to each finger. Color the blank keys according to the corresponding colors.
- Fill in keys on a keyboarding worksheet in a timed test.
- Working on typing speed
- Working on accuracy of finger placement in a skilled manner- addressing needs impacting skills
- Identifying a typing program that targets underlying areas that impact functional performance
- Setting up a home program so the child gets adequate typing practice.
A big part of typing is the underlying components and this is an area that the occupational therapy provider will address. The areas that impact typing include:
- Finger isolation
- Touch pressure
- Eye-hand coordination
- Executive Functioning Skills: Direction following, attention, impulse control
- Motor skills
- Sensory processing
- Visual motor skills
- Motor planning
- Range of motion
Bilateral coordination in particular can impact typing. Some ways to address that in OT include:
- Both hands placed on the keyboard.
- Right hand on right side of keyboard.
- Left hand on left side of keyboard.
- Does not use one hand predominantly over the other.
- Noticeable attempt to use both hands appropriately on the keyboard sides.
- Ability to motor plan appropriate finger placement to reach individual keys.
- Ability to use a mouse or touch mouse.
- Ability to manipulate paper, text, notes, or copy material and maintaining use of both hands in a coordinated manner.
Details of a Keyboarding Club for Kids
Keyboarding Club Typing Programs
We cover specifics about typing programs for kids in our recent blog post. There are many different curriculum out there and the one that works for the individual may not work for everyone.
- The website Learn To Type is a great tool for practicing lessons that are broken down by row, upper case, and punctuation. There are tips for practice and each test that account for accuracy and speed.
- Another online typing program is Sense-Lang. This site provides interactive tutorials and games to engage students.
- TypingClub– This free online typing curriculum moves kids through lessons. Kids can master each level and receive badges of completion. This program seems more like a game than lessons.
- Typing Club Google Chrome extension– This is a free program. Kids can learn touch typing and work toward increasing speeds of typing.
Try these typing games when kids seem to be board with the programming of your Keyboarding Club:
Mahan, T. (2002). Flying Fingers Keyboarding Club: Building Keyboarding Skills Through the Response to Intervention Approach. OT Practice, 17(3), 14-20.
Rogers, J., & Case-Smith, J. (2002). Relationships Between Handwriting and Keyboarding Performance of Sixth-Grade Students. The American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 56(1), 34-39.
Colleen Beck, OTR/L has been an occupational therapist since 2000, working in school-based, hand therapy, outpatient peds, EI, and SNF. Colleen created The OT Toolbox to inspire therapists, teachers, and parents with easy and fun tools to help children thrive. Read her story about going from an OT making $3/hour (after paying for kids’ childcare) to a full-time OT resource creator for millions of readers. Want to collaborate? Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.