When supporting an adult or child learner, one of the most important things you can do for them is to stand back and resist the temptation to intervene in any way until it is clear that mistakes are a pattern and not random errors that they can correct for themselves.
What are you looking for?
In the early stages, concentrate on:
- Use of the home keys.
- Whether each hand stays to its designated side of the keyboard.
- How often the student looks down.
- Whether there is any sign of discomfort when they type.
"Hunt and peck" method
The “hunt and peck” method of typing is quite common amongst students who have been using computers for some time prior to learning to touch type. They are keyboard aware, but they rely heavily upon finding the keys by sight. This is not ideal as it requires them to share their attention between the materials being typed and the typing process itself.
The 3-strike rule
No learner enjoys being "pounced" upon every time they make a mistake. It can be disheartening, and will only serve to raise anxiety levels.
We recommend a 3-strike rule approach: The first time you observe an error in technique, do nothing. If it happens for a second time shortly afterwards, keep watching. If it’s repeated a third time, then step in and provide assistance.
However, the best advice of all is simply to use a common sense approach, working through any observable issues one at a time.
Don’t try to fix everything at once.