We’ve always been quite relaxed about screen time with our children, and don’t have set restrictions in place on how long they can play on the computer or the iPad.
The way we see it, the skills they learn using the computer at home will be really useful for them as they get older, both at school and when they start working.
If you’d like to get your children going with computer skills but aren’t sure where to start then this post will hopefully be helpful.
These are the 4 key skills that I think are important to teach our children.
Keyboard and mouse skills
From quite a young age you can get children started with the basics of using a mouse and a keyboard with fun online games – just google ‘mouse control games’ to get started.
When your children get a bit older and are getting to grips with reading and writing then you can get them started with typing.
Nerys has been really keen to learn touch typing and we’ve found the dance mat typing lessons on BBC bitesize really great for that. She’s having a lot of fun with it and slowly building her confidence in knowing where the different letters are on the keyboard.
Using the internet and email
So much of our lives are online these days that knowing how to use the internet is a key skill for children to learn.
Talk to your children about using the internet safely and think about setting up restrictions on the things they can see when they’re online. This guide from Net Aware is useful if you’re not sure where to start with talking about staying safe online.
Once you feel happy that your children understand the safety issues you can start letting them loose on the internet.
Teach them how to use google to look things up that they’re interested in.
Show them how to open up websites by typing the address in.
Let them explore child-friendly websites by clicking on the different things that interest them.
Then as they get older you can help set them up with an email address and teach them how to use it. You could start by sending each other an email once a week with a little list of your favourite things that you’ve done that week.
Coding is a relatively new skill, but it’s one that is so useful for children to learn.
You can get them started at a really young age with toys like the code-a-pillar which is suitable from age 3. As they get a bit older then games like Osmo coding are a brilliant hands-on way to get to grips with coding.
When they’re old enough, and confident with their keyboard and mouse skills, they can learn more coding skills online.
Games like the hour of code from Disney are free and really great for children of various ages. Rhys and Nerys have both completed this Moana-themed mini-course and really enjoyed it.
Along with the more technical skills, it’s also important to teach children creative computing skills.
As our children get older they’ll be asked to produce more and more of their schoolwork on the computer and that will include creating things like presentations that will require some graphic design skills.
We’ve been using Canva quite a bit at home, both for Rhys’ school work and to create our own fun designs for things like scavenger hunts. I love it because there’s not too steep a learning curve but there is so much you can do and create.
You can do some great photo editing with Canva as well, from basic adjustments like boosting contrast to adding in filters, cropping and flipping images. It’s a great place to start if you’re not ready to invest in something like Photoshop or Lightroom.
I know that lots of parents worry about how much screen time their children have, and don’t necessarily want to encourage them to be on the computer more, but they’ll be learning so much if you use that time in front of a screen to work on these 4 key skills.
How many of these things do you already do with your children?