Kids can benefit from early training in essential computer skills. Teaching proper technique gives them a head start and provides a foundation from which to become proficient in the future.
Computer basics for kids are important because technology is ingrained in so many aspects of our lives. They are needed for countless tasks and are vital for learning and development.
Teaching kids computer basics allows them to safely and effectively operate devices. Early training allows the kids to start using computers for more complex tasks and to gain the education advantages that information technology offers. Here are some of the core skills for parents and educators to focus on.
Basic Computer Skills Kids Should Learn
Students who start early with technology can gain a significant learning advantage. Here’s a quick breakdown of essential computer skills every child around elementary school age should know.
1. Operating a touchscreen and mouse
Navigating a computer? The touchscreen is your new best friend. With it, you can open apps, tweak photos, and do a bunch more. And of course, there’s the good old mouse for those who prefer it.
For kids diving into tech, begin with the touchscreen basics: swiping, tapping, and pinching. And don’t forget to show them the ropes of using a mouse — moving it smoothly, and mastering the click and double-click. Soon, they’ll be navigating screens and making selections with ease.
2. Using a keyboard
Learning to type is a vital next step for elementary students. Typing is the primary way to input information into a computer, serving multiple purposes. It’s used for tasks like writing emails, entering website URLs, and managing programs and applications, among others.
Starting early with typing skills not only prepares children for tasks like transcribing and data entry but also readies them for virtually any computer-related job in the future.
Introduce kids to the correct hand positioning on the keyboard. There are plenty of online resources available, from typing games like Jungle Junior to tutorials and tests. These tools can teach hand placement, the right fingers for each key, and even offer typing tests to gauge their speed and accuracy.
3. Core software and apps
Some software and apps can be found on almost any device and are commonly used in school settings. Kids should learn how to use these programs as a basic computer skill.
Start with word processors, such as Microsoft Word or Google Docs, which are needed for drafting essays, reports, and other projects. Next, introduce them to spreadsheet tools like Excel or Google Sheets, helping them grasp data organization and basic calculations.
For those with a creative flair, simple graphic tools like Paint or beginner video editors can ignite their imagination while enhancing technical proficiency.
4. Sending and receiving emails
Email is one of the most common forms of communicated used today, and the way most businesses communicate with their employees. Emails can be used for personal use as well, and help people stay in touch.
Students should learn proper email etiquette and how to write formally. They should be shown how to create an email address, and how to view their inbox. It’s also important to learn about fraudulent emails, and the dangers involved to their computer’s health if opened.
5. Computer maintenance
For anyone that owns or uses a computer, a basic understanding of how they work and how they should be looked after will keep things in order and working.
For younger kids (2-9)
Teach younger children the importance of handling the computer with care. Things to avoid include pressing too hard on screens and being rough when moving or using devices. Young kids can be impatient, so show them how to wait for programs to load or respond instead of clicking repeatedly or shutting down unexpectedly.
For Older Kids (10+)
Older children can start learning about saving their work, so they don’t lose it. Emphasize the importance of keeping their computer’s software updated for it to work well and be secure. Encourage them to delete old apps or files they no longer use and clear their browser history periodically. Introduce them to basic troubleshooting – checking connections, restarting the computer, or even searching for solutions online (with some supervision).
6. Safe and smart internet use
Learning how to safely navigate the internet is important for everyone. The internet is essential for work, entertainment, and social connection. Knowing what’s safe and what’s not early on is very helpful. Kids should learn how to enter URL’s and browse webpages but also shown what to watch out for.
Some level of cyber security knowledge is important. Cyber attacks commonly rely on user ignorance. For example, kids should be taught to only reveal private information, include passwords, to trusted people. And they should avoid clicking on links in emails without knowing the exact purpose.
7. Beginner coding
Coding is the language of how computers work and is important to learn for students interested in a computer science career, such as creating video games and animation.
It’s also just a good thing for anyone to have a basic understanding of to help understand computers as a whole better. Children should be shown the basic building blocks of coding to help prepare them for more complexities as they get older.
Advanced Skills: Microsoft Excel
Starting early is probably the best way to become good at using spreadsheet software such as Microsoft Excel. And having this tool at their disposal allows a child to do many more things, from recording lists, to doing calculations and even some simple charts.
Having learned spreadsheet skills from an early age offers a great advantage when children grow up and enter the workforce. MS Excel is widely used in business, being one of the core software elements used across all industries. You can also expect the use of spreadsheets to continue far into the future since they offer a simple, powerful, visual way to manage information.