Career Advice - A Community Blog

Erik Larson writes about the job market, resume improvement, and career advice

How to Teach Basic Computer Skills to Kids

Written by Erik Larson, Community Blogger | Sep 6, 2017 4:28 PM

From an early age, kids watch and try to emulate their parents. Kids see their parents using a computer daily, so it is only natural that they are fascinated by it. In fact, many kids today seem to be hard-wired for computers and parents are usually surprised at how quickly their young child can learn basic computer skills. From about age three, at the very time their fascination begins, parents and begin teaching basic computer skills to their kids. In fact, teaching preschool age kids to use computers has been proven to improve their readiness for school and increase their academic achievement.

Ages 3 - 5

The first skill a child will learn is how to control the mouse. Depending on the child, a parent may need to remind them to handle the mouse and keyboard gently. In the beginning, the parent may choose to sit with the child on their lap, showing them how to use the mouse. One can begin by placing their hand on their child's and helping to guide the mouse. Once the child can effectively control the mouse, they are ready to begin playing games.

The parent should also teach the young child a little about the keyboard by opening a text document and letting the child press keys and watching what happens on the screen as they do so. The child should be allowed to explore and experiment with the keyboard. However, whether pecking about the keyboard or playing games, the parent or adult should always be on had to answer questions and guide the child during their computer time.

For young children, computer games are best at teaching them how to gain more control over the movement of the mouse and a few keyboard functions. These games have bright, colorful graphics, sound effects, and music which holds their attention. There are many free fun and engaging games for young children available online. Some popular games are:

  • Digital Coloring Books
  • Memory Games
  • Educational Games

PBS Kids has numerous kid friendly games which teach basic mouse and keyboarding skills as well as early scholastic skills. You can filter the games by ages 3-6 or ages 6-8.

Ages 6 - 12

When children are school age, they are ready to begin learning more in depth about the computer, internet safety, and how to use programs as well as keyboarding. Below are some skills and resources for teaching kids.

  • Internet Safety - One should introduce kids to the importance of internet safety and how to take precautions to safeguard themselves while online. These skills are especially important because children are naturally curious and will want to seek out peers online through gaming or social media. They should have this knowledge before being allowed to use the internet without supervision.

  • Keyboarding Skills - Kids are ready to learn how to touch type and properly use keyboard functions.

  • Programs - Kids are ready to learn about common programs such as word processing, spreadsheets, drawing, etc. One should introduce kids to these programs and why/how they are used.

  • Computer Components - Whenever the parent is working on the computer, whether cleaning, replacing a part or hooking up new hardware, this is an excellent teaching moment. The parent should use this opportunity to explain to kids what is happening, how and why. If the family is in the market for a new PC, they should consider building one instead of buying. While this may sound daunting, there are many online resources which explain the process step by step. Building a PC is an excellent way a kid can learn what a computer contains and how it works from the ground up.

  • Educational Resources - For kids in this age group there are many excellent educational programs online which will further their skills both with the computer as well as scholastically. Parents and teachers should also teach kids how to use the computer and the internet as a resource for research for homework and school projects.

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