Back in the day, computers were known as typewriters. And typewriters were strictly utilitarian. Now, there isn’t really a limit to what a computer can do. Learning to operate one is no longer a suggestion, good idea, or innocent diversion; it is a necessity.
Evidence suggests that young children who learn to operate a computer have a profound advantage when it comes to their educational experience.
Before you start the teaching process, make sure your computer is ready for little hands.
- It is best to wait until a child is at least three years old to begin teaching computer skills. Before age three, children probably won’t be able to grasp and understand the concepts because they are still developing their visual, language, and speaking skills.
- Install kid-friendly input devices. Purchase a mouse that will fit comfortably in your youngster’s hand. Also, look for a mouse that only has one click (instead of the normal mouse with double-side clicks). There are various keyboards on the market that are specially designed with children in mind. Look for one that contains large key labels and has fewer keys. There are also some that are color-coded to enhance a child’s learning experience.
- Start shopping around for computer software or learning games that are appropriate for your child’s age group. Make sure the learning materials are engaging and fun; this will increase their desire to learn.
Begin with the Basics
Don’t expect your child to be a computer genius right out of the gate. Begin with computer basics and etiquette, building a good foundation for future computer use.
- Teach computer care
Make sure your child understands that food and drink should not be brought near the computer. And remember that children learn by example, so follow your own rule!
Talk about the fact that the keyboard, mouse and other accessories should be handled gently. No pounding or other physical abuse.
Let your child know that laptops should be moved with care. Always be within arms reach in case your child is overly ambitious with his or her laptop wielding intentions.
- The mouse
Education about the mouse should be one of your first lessons since most computer commands come from the mouse instead of the keyboard.
Let your youngster use whichever hand is most comfortable. And since they are just getting started, children usually switch back and forth between clicking fingers.
To make things easier, modify the mouse settings on the computer for slower mouse speed. Remember your child is still developing fine motor skills; don’t expect too much too fast.
Always watch to make sure your child is being respectful of the computer. While it is important to educate your child about preventing damage to the computer, it is your job to make sure it doesn’t happen.
After teaching your children the basics, let them loose. Give them time to manipulate by themselves. Children will learn faster if they are allowed to play on their own instead of parents teaching them hand-over-hand.
- Teaching to type
You may think your youngster is too young to learn to type, but you’d be surprised how fast and easily they can be taught the skill. It is best if you teach proper typing techniques from the very beginning so they never resort to the hunt-and-peck method.
Invest in a software program to teach proper hand and finger placement. Also, there are several online tutorials and games that your child can use to practice his or her newfound skills.
Teach typing in a series of lessons that progress at a speed your child is comfortable with.
- Exploring the internet
Before you know it, your child will be working on his or her first research paper. Teaching children early on that the internet is a resource tool – not just a source of fun games – is important.
Practice entering specific keywords and queries into various search engines. Show how different phrases yield different results. For example, “alligator species,” and “breeds of alligators,” will produce two separate lists.
Help your child detect the legitimate, reliable sources of information. Talk about the difference between .com, .edu, .org, and .gov.
It is best to introduce your child to the computer at a young age. However, if you haven’t started formally teaching your school-aged child yet, don’t panic. If you place an older child in front of a computer, the child will probably surprise you with the level of skill he or she possesses. Just as a youngster knows what to do with a ball, your school-aged child has somehow soaked up knowledge about computers.
Guest blogger Jessica Velasco works for an SEO marketing firm. She spends a lot of time in front of a computer, both at work and at home.
It is no surprise that her young daughter has quickly become a computer whiz. Just yesterday little Lily taught Jessica how to do something on the computer!