Tapping into literacy skills

5th August 2011 at 01:00

On the subject of teaching handwriting skills (TESS, 22 July), BBC television reported a few days earlier that in several states in the US, keyboard skills are being taught before writing.

In teaching reading and writing together it is usually held that they reinforce each other, being integral parts of the same process. But teaching the two together from the start demands brain potentials which mature at different ages.

Writing is more complex than reading and calls for an inborn capacity for handeye co-ordination as yet not fully available.

Teaching elementary keyboard skills before writing involves more than knowing letters and where the keys are. Pressing a correct sequence of keys is clearly less complicated than shaping letters by hand.

My experience is that reading can be accelerated and that, at a slightly later stage of development, writing skills are more readily learned with the confidence to put ideas, feelings and verbal statements more legibly and fluently into script.

Peter Cox, retired lecturer in educational psychology and special educational needs.

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