To cover or not to cover

When and why to cover the hands when typing

Aaron Diaz avatar
Written by Aaron Diaz
Updated over a week ago

Hand covering assessment

Many traditional typing programs will advocate the covering of hands right from the outset, to encourage touch-typing to develop more quickly.

However, it is for you to judge whether you feel this will actively help or hinder your individual students in the early stages of their TTRS journey.

In the beginning

Quite often, students lack the physical awareness to instinctively "feel" where their fingers are moving to when they first learn to press the keys.

This does improve over time.

You may find it helps them to watch their fingers via peripheral vision, as they build connections in the brain and develop their muscle memory.

Being too strict about hand covering especially for younger students, may lead to frustration and disenchantment.

The way forward

With gentle, yet persistent encouragement to look at the screen rather than the keyboard, and perhaps with periodic tries at hand covering, almost all students will eventually raise their gaze permanently.

I can do it with my eyes shut!

Some learners will find it fun to close their eyes to see if they can type a word, line or perhaps an entire module without peeking.

It really brings home the importance of finger positioning.

Many typists have never noticed those two little bumps on F and J which help find the correct starting position by touch alone.

Cover types

There are all sorts of covering options: rubber skins that fit over the keys themselves, metal or wood covers, DIY constructions using cereal boxes, a small hand towel or a sheet of paper taped at the back of the keyboard with masking tape - though some students dislike the feel of something touching the backs of their hands. 

Painting out the letters on the keyboard works, but is radical as it does ruin your keyboard for anyone who can’t touch type!

Additional aids

If a student struggles with any particular reach or combination of letters, try placing a small spot of Blu-tack or other sticky substance temporarily on the key or keys to make it easier to find by touch.  

To identify which keys may need a bit more practice, consider asking the student to type the alphabet into a word processing program such as MS Word. The important thing is not to look, even if they’re unsure.

Get them to have a "best guess", then go back to check once done.

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