Why Repetition is Key to Learning Typing

January 22nd, 2018 Mike Gecawich

Back in the day, if you did something bad in school you didn’t get demerits… you got lines.

The teacher would give you a sentence, most likely one stating your infraction, and you had to write it a hundred times or more.

Now, if you’ve never been sentenced to write sentences (ha!), that might not sound so bad. But if you have, you know the struggle after even just the tenth time writing the same thing.

Repetition is a bore. But as it turns out, it’s incredibly valuable to our learning process. In fact, it’s been the principal form of learning throughout history.

Repetition is also a crucial part of learning to touch type.

But why is it so important and how can teachers make this inevitable truth less painful for students?

Read on to find out more.

Why Repetition?

Being able to type quickly and accurately without looking at your keyboard is a result of something called muscle memory.

While this doesn’t literally mean that your fingers can remember where they keys lie, it often feels like it.

Proficient touch typists don’t think about where the letter “w” is when typing the word “where” it just comes instinctively because of muscle memory.

And the only way to build muscle memory? You guessed it… repetition!

Each time you successfully reach your finger to the desired key, you are helping your brain to hard wire that key’s placement in your muscle memory.

With enough repetition, you no longer need to think about key placement at all.

Battle the Repetition Blues

Just because repetition is important to mastering touch typing, that doesn’t make it fun.

How can teachers motivate students to crank out the necessary repetitions?

To start with, it’s worth explaining to students why repetition is important.

Assuming you are a proficient typist yourself, show off your touch typing skills for your class to drive the point home.

Hook up a projector so that it mirrors your computer screen and open up a word document.

Have students dictate a story or something they want you to type and type along with their dictation, keeping your eyes on the screen (or even somewhere else entirely).

Students are often amazed and what great typists adults tend to be. And how did you get there? Repetition.

While there’s no getting around the need to repeat keystrokes over and over, you can find ways to make this more fun.

Create a class incentive system where students can chart their progress and even earn prizes along the way as they improve their WPM.

We’ve seen teachers create a “keyboarding speedway” on a classroom wall where kids each have a cutout car that they can move along a track as they increase their WPM.

If your students have typing class every day, consider making every third or fourth day an activity.

The EduTyping blog is chock full of fun activities that are easy to prepare and can be completed within one class period.

So, is repetition necessary to learning touch typing? You bet it is. But that doesn’t mean that it always has to be painful.

A combination of investing students in the importance of repetition and creating fun ways to break up the routine will help keep complaints to a minimum.

And hey, less complaining means more typing!

One response to “Why Repetition is Key to Learning Typing”

  1. Marguerite Morgan says:

    Thank you for making this a priority in this newsletter. In my district, it seems that touch typing is non-existent. Our administrators want students to take the feel good ‘fun’ classes, where they learn desktop publishing, coding, and graphics. Those of us who have done this for a while want that too. But we also know that they have to have pre-requisite skills before plunging into what our administrators see as ‘jobs of the future’.

    As important as repetition is, we still have to deal with a Practice Makes Perfect situation. As a [retired] secondary typing/computer teacher my biggest push back was that every student who entered my classroom over the past 6 – 10 years has had a cell phone/smart phone that they had been practicing repetition (in the form of lightning speed texting) on for at least 2, 3, or more years. I’ve even had 14 yr. olds tell me, “I’ve been typing like this all my life.” It would be funny if it weren’t true.

    I’d really like to be the person who discovers how to put what students’ thumbs know and translate it into proficient touch typing. There is no doubt that they already know the QWERTY keyboard. The challenge is convincing them that they already know it, and telegraphing the message to the other digits on their hands. Whew!

    With that said, I remind students that Practice Only Makes Perfect, when Practiced Perfectly.

    Still Frustrated After All These Years

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