Handwriting vs Keyboarding for Students
Q: My daughter only wants to write on the computer. Shouldn’t she be practicing writing papers by hand?
A: Although some theorize that the act of writing by hand better facilitates learning, notably critical thinking, we do live in a digital world, and with the popularity of online curricula and even online testing, keyboarding has become both popular and standard in education. Many students also face the challenge of writing reluctance, so if the keyboard eases anxiety when it’s time to write an essay, then writing on the computer can be a helpful tool for student productivity.
Writing on the computer can also be a time saver because students can easily do online research while completing a writing assignment on the computer. Similarly, for students who need regular breaks in order to stay focused on or complete a writing task, typing allows the ability to change tabs at set intervals to, for example, engage in math practice or an educational game; sometimes a child just needs to switch gears to maintain interest or just clear his/her head with a mental break. For instance, some parents or learning programs will often offer five minutes of computer fun time for every 15 or 30 minutes of productive writing time, and this can further motivate students to keep writing.
I would definitely suggest choosing one’s battles. If writing on the computer works for your student, then why not? As an example, let’s say your student is signed up for one of the essay writing courses at Time4Writing. Parents could suggest that the student type their final essay on the computer after they’ve handwritten a first draft or at least the outline. This would give the student a point of reference while working instead of that ominous, sometimes baffling, blank white screen. In their future education as well as later in the workplace, they will be asked to produce and even submit their writing online, so practicing now is quite beneficial. I think the overall goal should be to encourage writing. How one gets there can be as individual as the learner.