It can sometimes feel like children would be better giving parents a lesson on the computer, and if your child’s computing ability is above yours – relish the fact! Asking your child to help you to develop your own IT skills can boost their confidence, boost your IT ability, and encourage an important balance in your learning relationship. However, it is obviously important to also develop your child’s computing ability, so whether this involves hiring a tutor, or asking an IT whiz friend or colleague to help out, there are plenty of fun ways to learn more about tools like desk top processing, making things like databases and spreadsheets, plus learning about hardware components of a computer.
Lesson and Teaching Ideas for ICT
An exciting part of learning Informational Technology (IT) is that the computer can provide several different lessons at once. Using one of the hundreds of educational online games, for example, can give a pupil the chance to learn about the focused topic (e.g. a maths topic) while also gaining confidence using the mouse and/or keyboard, getting to know how to use a computer and having fun.
Developing First Computing Skills
Helping your child to get to know their way around the computer is an important first step towards IT literacy. Sit together at the computer, and show your child how to open a programme. Make it a simple one like the calculator, or notepad. Go to the Start menu, then choose programmes and accessories, then calculator, and then do the same for notebook. Play around with the programmes – do some basics maths with the calculator, and show your child how to write his or her name in the notebook window.
The ‘paint’ programme in Windows is a useful way to build mouse manipulation skills. Go to Start, All Programmes, Accessories, then choose Paint. Help your child to play with the tools on the left hand side of the screen, which will allow different brush types and shapes, plus the colour wheel at the bottom of the screen, to ‘paint’ a picture. Demonstrate other functions, such as the ‘x’ square that closes a window, then adjacent squares that minimise and maximise the window, and talk them through the terminology. Show your child how to save the painting, in the File menu, click Save, give the document a name, and save it on to the Desktop, close the document, then show your child how to re-open the document from the desktop. Next you could save the document into a folder, explaining that a computer folder is like a paper folder, somewhere you store items to organise them.
Learning to use a computer for ‘writing’ is another important skill. Help your child to learn to use a word processing programme like Microsoft Word, by opening the programme and helping them to type. Maybe invent a creative writing story with your child, and write it up together. When you have a solid amount of text, teach your child to use tools to alter the text. For example, change the font.
Teach your child how to select the text with the mouse, or by using the keyboard (‘control’ and the letter ‘A’- these kinds of shortcuts are useful as they are transferable to other Windows programmes), then choose a font from the drop down box at the top of the screen. Help your child to pick different fonts until they find one they like, which will help them to build up confidence with their IT skills. Next choose font size, and options like bold, italic and underline text. Do different effects to different words, e.g. changing the colour for single words or sentences. Create posters to display work around the home classroom, which can also be used by the child as reminders about how to use different aspects of the computer.
Another thing to insert into the Word document can be image. You can input the image drawn in Paint by clicking ‘object’ from the ‘Insert’ menu at the top of the Word screen. Help your child to find the file from its saved location in the folder on the desktop, and to remember what you called the file. Then save this document inside the same folder. Repeating these kinds of activities will build up a portfolio of IT skills which can then be used to play with some of the myriad of more advanced educational computer games available for free on the internet. Enjoy!