by Elizabeth Schiff, private tutor.
Many students with learning differences have more than one learning disability, and students with multiple LD’s are common. As a tutor, I am often called in to work with a child on reading, only to end up tutoring them in writing and math (and even science, history and languages) as well. Learning differences are not discrete and often spill over from one academic area to another. There are many types of issues that can impact learning in addition to dyslexia and decoding problems, including ADHD, anxiety, depression, and problems with executive functioning, short term, and working memory, and auditory processing. All of these issues can affect learning in a variety of different academic areas.
In my experience, children who have trouble learning to read frequently also have trouble with writing and spelling. Many students have graphomotor issues (difficulty with writing and the fine motor skills necessary for writing) and spatial and motor planning issues (for example, where to start writing on the page and leaving the proper amount of space between letters and words.) This can result in poor and/or laborious handwriting.
For these students, learning keyboarding can be a boon, as it circumvents many of these problems and can ultimately be much faster and easier than writing by hand. I, therefore, encourage teaching it as early as possible. Third and even second grade is not too soon if the child is not resistant and is willing to try. And as I discussed in my previous blog (Tutoring Younger Students with Learning Disabilities: The Importance of Fun), learning and practicing skills are necessary, but the lessons should be engaging and games can make the learning more fun.
Two good programs that you can buy online are Typing Instructor for Kids and Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing, but you can also look at reviews online and pick one that you think will fit your child/student. There is also a multitude of free online games and keyboarding lessons.
Here are some typing programs for children with disabilities that I have used:
- Dance Mat Typing (teaches touch-typing, letter placement, correct finger placement, etc.) > http://www.bbc.co.uk/guides/z3c6tfr
- Keyboard Climber (game for practicing finding letters on the keyboard) > http://www.tvokids.com/games/keyboardclimber
- The Frogs Are Off Their Diet(game for practicing typing combinations of letters) > http://www.freetypinggame.net/play3.asp
- Keyboard Triathlon (game for learning the placement of the letters on the keyboard) > http://www.freetypinggame.net/play12.asp
- 1 minute timed typing test > http://www.freetypinggame.net/play4.asp
Elizabeth Schiff is a private tutor with over 20 years experience working with students with learning differences. She teaches all academic subject areas as well organization and study skills to students in 1st through 12th grades from both private and public schools. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org