Teaching your children about computer science is important since it can prepare your kids for using the many kinds of today’s technology. Keep on reading this post to learn about computer basics for kids.
Schoolchildren today have always known a world with PCs and the Internet (high-speed, at that!). Sometimes, when I really think this, it still takes me aback, especially when I bore my children with stories of doing school papers on a typewriter with a quart of WiteOut(TM). (Try to describe a typewriter to a child–it’s not so easy!)
OK, back to the present. Nowadays, many schools have computers. However, many schools don’t teach the kids about the technology. Sure, they let the kids pop in CD that reinforces phonics or reading or math and that is great. But, computing is only going to get more complex and more integrated in our daily lives. Kids, even at elementary-school ages, have to know more than how to play games. By high school, a young person should really
- Learn how a computer can be useful in school and for life, and
- Understand how this technology works.
This way, the computer is more than an diversion. It a tool for improving all areas of their lives
Computer Lessons for Kids
Here are 9 computer skills for kids a child should have by the end of 8th grade.
- How to touch type
- How to organize computer files
- How to do a good Internet search
- How to get pictures onto the computer
- How to create a paper in a word processor
- The basics of how a computer works
- Simple ways to use a spreadsheet
- How to send and check email
- How to stay safe on the Internet
1. How to Type
Touch typing or keyboarding is when you can type using all your fingers without looking at the keyboard. And, typing is still the key way we get thoughts and ideas onto a computer whether it is a report, an email, a flyer, or even a Web address. The better typist your child is, the more they can do on the computer and the faster they can do it, no matter if it is for school or some other endeavor.
What They Need To Know. The core of keyboarding is memorizing where the keys are. This makes it a computer skill that even Kindergarteners could start to practice. Getting your child started is fairly easy with the many free and inexpensive programs made specifically for children who are learning to type.
2. Understand what a computer file is and to work with them
Your child probably has a different drawer for socks than for shirts. So, when they want socks, they know where to pull a pair quickly and easily. This concept is the same for organizing files on the computer. When your child knows how to manage their computer files, they know where they saved that report, downloaded those files, or transferred those pictures.
File management means being able to easily get to a file in order to view it, change it, print it, or share it. More than that, understanding which files do what makes it easier to figure out problems on the computer.
What They Need to Know. What a file is, how to save and retrieve files, what folders are and how to create them, how to search for files, how to recognize common file extensions.
3. How to do a good search on the Internet
A child asks thousands of questions on just about subject imaginable. ‘Mom, why is the Romans’ language called Latin?’ ‘Why does the dog sniff all the time?’ ‘What’s the difference between Triassic and Jurassic periods? I have a report due in the morning.’
For many of us, young and old(er), the Internet is often the first stop when looking for information. But, looking doesn’t always mean finding, does it? Enter a word or term in Yahoo or Google and you may get a list of excellently matched pages–or irrelevant hodgepodge. Until search engines improve (and they will), it pays to learn how to perform a search in the ‘language’ the search engines understand. Your child will have much better success at finding the information they need.
What They Need To Know. How to construct good, specific search phrases; how to evaluate the accuracy of information on a Web page.
4. How to get a pictures onto the computer
What’s the point of taking all those pictures with that digital camera if you can’t do anything with them? Kids love taking pictures just as much as their parents, so why shouldn’t they learn how to work with them?
Also consider this: pictures and video aren’t just for fun. More and more, the Internet is becoming a multimedia place. The ability to exchange pictures, offer audio, and show video can set your kids apart. (I’m just talking about in good ways. Whether a kid records a science experiment, a community project, or the beatdown of a friend is an issue of content and a question for the parent.) Right now, being able to work with pictures, audio and video is a bonus. In the future, it will become an essential computer skill.
What They Need To Know. Common file formats for pictures, video and audio; how to transer files to the computer (from digital cameras, Phone, Tablet(iPad), MP3 recorders, Web sites, etc.); how to play or show pictures, video or audio clips; how to insert pictures in documents and presentations; how to upload pictures and video files.
5. How to create a paper in a word processor
At some point, almost everyone has to type a document: a letter, a report, a presentation, an email, etc. Your child should learn the basics of not just typing (see above) but also creating a document. They will have to write a paper sooner or later—and probably a lot sooner than you expect.
What They Need To Know. How to create and save a new document, working with fonts (colors, sizes, bold, underline, italics), cutting/copying/pasting text, changing line spacing, inserting page numbers.
6. The basics of how a computer works
On a very practical level, everyone should know the basics of how a computer works. At the very least, this helps you to better describe a problem when you are trying to get help for your computer from some more knowledgable, impatient techie. (I know, I used to be one.)
But that is just one advantage. When your child understands how the hardware works, he or she understands the limitation or problems with software and can fix problems. He or she is a better consumer when your family needs to upgrade parts or buy software. Understanding the hardware can even expand your child possibilities for interesting and lucrative summer jobs or businesses.
What They Need To Know. The basic parts of a computer (monitor, tower, keyboard, mouse, etc.), the basic systems of a computer (memory, processor, power, etc.), how the basic systems work together.
7. The basics of using a spreadsheet and why
In my opinion, anything that makes math simple should be put in front of a kid. To a child–who is not under the stress of deciphering the department’s acccounts–a spreadsheet can be an interesting, even fun way to play with numbers and their combinations.
At this age, relevant activities like counting allowance, practicing times tables, or averaging their sports stats are good ways to get started . Right now, you just want to introduce what a spreadsheet can do, much like school children are introduced to calculators. As they grow older, they will recognize all the practical things a spreadsheet can do for them.
What They Need To Know. Understanding columns, rows and cells; how to enter numbers; how to enter simple formulas to add and sum, subtract, average, multiply, and divide.
8. How to send and check email
The new generations of children and teens will know more about the proper etiquette of an email then of a letter. Even with instant messaging and text messaging, email is still be a very popular form of communication. Learning to use email to contact classmates, teachers, and others will be a needed computer skill by high school.
What They Need to Know. Recognizing the parts of an email address, accessing Web-based email, opening email, composing and sending email, attaching and detaching files.
Most parents now know that the Internet is an open, unguarded place that can expose our children to many unwanted things like child predators, viruses, porn, shysters, and so on.
The same way that we teach our children to be safe in public we must teach them to be careful and aware online. This is not just to be safe from Internet predators, but to also have lifelong common sense against dangers.
What They Need to Know. Protecting their private information, password safety, knowing who/what to trust and when to question, care with opening or installing programs on the Web, email safety, what not to click, the difference between ads and information.
I know that there are many smart adults don’t have proficiencies in many of these areas. If you don’t, go ahead and spend some time learning. You will find your productivity go way up. And don’t let your lack of knowledge in these areas stop you from encouraging your kids. Whatever you do already know, share that! Seek out Web sites, classes, programs and software that will get your kids started. Lastly, if your child’s school offers computer or technology classes, ask the teachers what they cover and let them know what you want to see in the curriculum.