touchscreen typing and the struggling writer

A few years ago, several of the local school departments bought iPads for all students in some grades.  Some schools considered buying laptop computers instead, but decided on iPads.  Now in several of the schools, students are doing all their writing on touch screens.

There are things that tablets can do that laptops can’t, and vice versa. This post is not an anti-tablet rant.  It’s just a heads-up that the tablet can slow down and discourage a struggling writer.  Among other things, the mental task of typing on a screen is bigger than the mental task of writing on a keyboard. Additional mental effort is the last thing many kids need when it comes to writing. It takes more thought and concentration to hit a spot on a screen (or avoiding hitting one) than it does a discrete key. Maybe it sounds like a small thing, but if you’ve ever struggled with anything, you know that with something that’s already difficult, small things add up and discourage.

If you know a child for whom writing is already a challenge, and she or he is attending a school that asks for all writing via a tablet, please consider finding him or her a keyboard to use in conjunction with the tablet, if not an actual laptop. (And it doesn’t need to be a fancy laptop; for writing, a very simple and/or very old laptop will do.)

If the writing itself is what’s important, removing obstacles that are not necessary can make a huge difference.  Not to mention that if a young person hopes to go to college and will need to write extensively there (or anywhere else for that matter), it could be helpful for him or her to become accustomed to writing on a device that will allow the most efficiency and fluency, rather than trying to retrain his or her mind and muscles after several years of one process in order to replace it with another.

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