IT is an important part of the curriculum, but still we find lots of children lagging behind on lots of the essential computer skills we would expect them to understand. The Millennials, as the most recent generation is known, are exposed to computers from birth, but that doesn’t mean that they are able to perform some of the skills they need to according to the Government and school authorities.
One of the things most children don’t enjoy, but should understand on at least a basic level, is databases. Lots of jobs involve some degree of data entry tasks, so get acquainted with programs like Microsoft Access is a really good way to give them a basic level of understanding. You can get them doing fun activities to test the basic functions, like putting in information about their classmates and ‘searching’ for those with brown eyes or ‘sorting’ alphabetically by surname.
Another important program to get to grips with is a spreadsheet program like Microsoft Excel. Again, lots of jobs use spreadsheets as a way to keep data organised and to automatically work out things like invoices, so you could combine IT lessons with a little bit of maths to see if you can get them figuring out the SUM function and how to build basic equations in the cells. You could use data from a science experiment in a spreadsheet and see if you can create some graphs.
Word processing is an obvious thing to get to grips with, as they will need to be able to use Microsoft Word and other similar programs throughout their lives. However, IT lessons should be about going beyond the basics and helping them set pages up the way they want, tracking changes on a page and formatting fonts to produce attractive documents for a range of purposes, from formal to fun, so that they can type up their best English work and put it on display.
IT lessons should be all about learning to use a computer in an efficient way, so it’s important that they’re set up for easy use. Some form of document management system will be a good way to get the children used to organizing their folders in a sensible way, and it will allow them to open a range of file types on each of the computers. Teaching good computer practices at this young age will set them up well for their computer future use, so be very clear about the correct way to do everything.
Chad Porter is an IT teacher always looking for new information to bring to the classroom