There's no doubt that teaching computer basics should be a part of every homeschool curriculum. It's important that students not only know the basics of typing and word processing but also that students know how to use the Internet and common programs that are available.
Teaching Computer Basics
There are a variety of ways to go about teaching computer basics. It's important to keep in mind that there are a variety of areas within computer basics from learning how to use basic word processing to learning how to program games. Fortunately, there are numerous resources available both for purchase and online that can help you in your quest for computer literacy in your students.
An early introduction to typing during the later elementary years makes sense. Many kids will learn the basics of the keyboard simply by exposure. However, knowing how to type properly will ensure that your student can quickly navigate the keyboard and be able to perform basic keyboarding functions. Many teachers have resorted to a variety of creative means to teach typing but the old fashioned adage that "practice makes perfect" is most appropriate here. A few resources that you can use to practice include:
- Free Typing Game.net has basic computer games that will hone skills on the keyboard. One advantage to having your child play typing games is that playing games helps students resist the urge to watch the keyboard while they type, because they have to watch the screen to play the game.
- Typing Instructor Platinum is a comprehensive course in typing teaching both proper hand placement and stroking techniques as well as offering kids games and quizzes to see how well they are doing.
Word Processing Projects
Once kids have mastered the ability to type, word processing projects will become easier to assign. While you certainly want your student to understand the basics of using a program like Word, also keep in mind that computer technology changes very rapidly. Therefore, it's a good idea to teach using projects where they can learn by exploring rather than hammering on fine details. The reality is that most of those fine details will change in year or two anyways, but learning how to be comfortable exploring and using various aspects of a word processing program will serve your student well for years to come. A few resources you may want to look into include:
- Computer Activities: Word Processing Projects has a whole curriculum full of word processing projects that include not only typing activities, but also using Paint, and other programs.
- Computer Activities Through the Year is not a curriculum exclusively for word processing, but it offers a variety of word processing projects and is a great introduction in a kid-friendly format for the younger elementary set.
Digital Photography and Videography
While digital photography may not be considered a necessity in the same way that students need to learn to type, there is no doubt that knowing how to work with digital cameras and photography software is a skill that will come in handy. Whether you choose to allow your student a YouTube account or you want to purchase a full course, letting your student loose with a digital camera can fulfill art and technology requirements. If you do want a full course consider some of these resources:
- The Kids' Guide to Digital Photography - This is an all encompassing book and truly offers a guide on how to shoot good pictures as well as how to work with the technology necessary for digital photos.
- Digital Photography Unit Study is another great Unit Study from Amanda Bennett.
Using the Internet
Using the Internet is something that your child is likely to master very easily. In fact, if your child has ever done any online learning, you'll find that there is not a lot of 'teaching' that needs to be done but rather 'exploring.' There are a variety of ways to help your child become comfortable online:
- Webquests are online scavenger hunts that encourage students to dig for information.
- Social networking sites like Facebook offer kids an opportunity to keep track of families.
- Blogging sites give students a great opportunity to write and publish.
- Assigning online research can encourage your children to learn how to use search engines to find information.
Remember that when you are teaching your kids to use the internet that you need to go over internet safety and set ground rules for which sites are acceptable and what your child can and cannot do online.
Computer programming is offered at most high schools and if your student shows a real interest, you can offer it as well-even if you don't have computer programming knowledge.
- Computer Science Pure and Simple by Motherboard Books is a two book curriculum that teaches kids how to program computer games. Lots of fun and very simple to implement, this company also offers other types of computer literacy resources that are worth checking out.
Simple Computer Skills
Making sure that your child is computer literate is not difficult. Resources and opportunities change constantly but they do abound. Try to integrate your computer lessons with other things you are doing in homeschool and keep a loosely defined course of study in mind when you are planning out your year so you can be sure and cover all your bases.