Inspiration

Teaching Computer Skills to Elementary Students

Kids who are proficient with computers will be more likely to succeed. Teach these skills to kids early so they're prepared for their futures.

Technology plays such an essential role in our lives, making it necessary for even young children to have a solid foundation in computer skills. For most parents and teachers, computer lessons look a little different than when we were kids. It can be challenging to know exactly what kids need to learn.

The good news is, most kids today seem to have a natural ability with technology. They’re eager and easily able to learn new computer skills. Read on to learn what computer skills you should be teaching to elementary kids.

Start With the Basics

Many kids start using computers at a young age, and while they’re proficient in their skills, they have little to no idea of how everything actually works. Understanding the basics of computers will build a good foundation for later skills like coding.

How Computers Work

Begin by explaining the terms hardware and software. Then go through the basic hardware because it’s easier for kids to grasp. Go over the CPU, monitor, keyboard, mouse, and any other peripherals your computer may have. 

If you only have a laptop or desktop, you can look at images online. If you happen to have an old computer, get out some screwdrivers and help your child to take it apart. It’s a great hands-on activity, and your kid can see how everything works inside the CPU.

You can help kids understand software by discussing apps, as these are probably the most familiar programs to them. You can explore various types of software on your computer with your child.

Basic Functions

Although most kids know how to use a computer, you’ll want to take time to introduce them to the basic functions. Go through the different keys on a keyboard and explain the function of each. Your child may want to begin working on basic typing skills with an online program.

You can also work on using a mouse or a trackpad. Explain single-click, double-click, right-click, and their functions. You can also go through basic skills like turning a computer on and off and performing a restart.

Kids also need online skills. Teach your child how to perform a search and how to filter their search for images or videos. If your child is reading and writing, then you can also teach them how to write a simple email.

Coding

You don’t have to wait until elementary kids have a good foundation of computer basics to start building a foundation in coding. Small kids don’t have to learn actual code. Instead, they can start building the strategic thinking and problem-solving skills that they’ll need once they start coding.

There are so many great coding activities you can do with kids. There are lots of toys and games that teach beginning coding skills. You can also do unplugged activities like writing algorithms to move a pretend robot from space to another.

As kids get more comfortable with the idea of coding, you can start working on apps and online programs that give them a chance to practice. Many of these don’t require writing actual code, but again get kids in a coding mindset. 

Websites like Code.org and programs like Scratch give kids a chance to “write” their own code and see it in action.  

Using Computers Safely and Wisely

Even with the youngest kids, once they start using computers, they need to understand the best practices for being safe online and using computers wisely.

Online Safety

Even if your kids aren’t yet on social media, you should still begin teaching them to be safe online. It’s actually better that they learn online safety before ever getting on social media. Teach kids to never give their full name, location, or any other identifying details.

You should also discuss that they need to be careful about what they post. Words and pictures can follow them forever. Kids may not understand that nothing is truly deleted on the internet, so you’ll need to be sure to drive home that idea.

Wise Computer Use

Many people use the internet as a source of information, but have no idea how to discern if a source is trustworthy or not. You should start early when teaching your kids about media literacy. 

The internet is saturated with information and not all of it is accurate. When kids are very young, you can begin to instill the idea that not everything on the internet is true. Kids can work on critical thinking skills by doing brain teasers and thought problems. 

As you surf the internet with your child, teach them how to ensure that a website is legitimate. Show them how to look for .gov and .edu URLs and to read the About page to see the writer’s credentials.

Final Thoughts

Computers and technology are getting increasingly complicated as we move forward. Growth isn’t a slow and steady move forward, but is instead exponential. Kids who are proficient with computers will be more likely to succeed. Teach these skills to kids early so they’re prepared for their futures.

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