How to Teach basic computer skills with ease today

Intentional teaching early childhood

By Michael Hilkemeijer

In a technologically-dominated world, young children are surrounded by other people who use digital technologies daily. It is a part of their lives and is changing at a rapid pace.

As an early childhood educator, you have most likely met young children at your early childhood learning environment who you have determined possess capabilities.

Recognising these characteristics in young children does help you to become responsive to their skills, knowledge and understanding of ICT. Being a responsive educator is significant, however, the importance of ICT in early childhood education in this regard also brings with it key benefits noticeably the following:


  • It supports the development of fine motor skills.
  • It strengthens coordination and reaction time.
  • It improves social and emotional development.
  • It promotes collaboration and relationships.
  • It builds cultural awareness.
  • It helps language and communication development.
  • It offers the opportunity for information processing.


All while giving young children the opportunity to further their knowledge, skills and abilities in ICT through the effective guidance and support of you as the educator or adult.


Your ultimate aim is to ensure that these young children are equipped with the capabilities in ICT in such a way that they will be able to benefit from its use in the future!


You can download more information about these benefits here: Benefits of computers in early childhood education pdf

The following are extracts from my online PD for early childhood educators titled “How to Teach Computers in  Early Childhood Education” which you can access for free as a member of the ICT in Education Teacher Academy today for just $20 per month.



teaching computers to preschoolers

Teaching Computers to Preschoolers

Computers and ICT in early childhood education can be used in a meaningful and developmentally appropriate way with young children. However, initial adult support helps young children use computers to learn. With such support they can use computers independently.


Your responsibility as an early childhood teacher in relation to evaluating the affects of technology over children and being ready for using computers in early childhood education is critically significant. It is important to understand that learning will become more enjoyable when you start to regard computers as a tool of valuable learning and combine activities with other learning activities.


Begin to make computers’ advantages more influential for children by realising physical regulations carefully, giving assistance, selecting software and enriching learning in the following ways.


When teaching computers to preschoolers you will need to consider the following:

  • Learning area setup.
  • Key questions to help drive child computer learning.
  • When should you introduce a computer to a young child?
  • What computer programs are developmentally appropriate?
  • How you can integrate one computer for preschool learning?


To help you get started with all this I have included download integrated computer lessons for preschoolers.



The Learning Area

The computer area in preschool should always be recognised as a learning centre and as an educator or adult, part of your role should be to determine the physical characteristics of these learning spaces. This will help to take the focus away from the technology and it would make it part of the other learning centres.


What are some Do’s and Don’ts?

  • Don’t call it the computer area.
  • Do call it the learning space.
  • Do make the learning space with the computers highly visible.
  • Don’t make the practice of computers individualistic or something that needs to be hidden from sight.
  • Don’t put screens around the learning space as making screens visible will make them become a distraction.


If children are working in pairs, you will need to put the seats for them in front of the monitor as well as a seat placed to one side and slightly behind for the adult.


Your role as an adult is to observe, listen and facilitate. Never take over control of the keyboard or mouse from the children unless there is some physical danger to them. Don’t sit so close to the children or the computer that they are inhibited in their talk and actions.


Computers should always be centrally located in the early childhood learning environment as these invite other children to pause and participate in the computer activity. This arrangement will also help you as the early childhood teacher to participate at an optimum level as they are nearby and allow for supervision and assistance if needed.


Having a ratio of 10:1 of children to computers will help you to encourage computer use along with cooperation, and equal access to girls and boys.


While cooperative use of computers raises achievement it is important to maintain a balance between the mixture of use as pairs and individual work. Research also indicates that to encourage young children to connect on-and-off computer experiences, you will need to place print materials, manipulatives, and real objects next to the computer as this provides a good activity for children observing or waiting for their turn.



Teaching computers to preschoolers

9 Key questions to ask to help drive child learning on computers

The computer is probably one of the most common forms of digital technology that a young child has in their own home and may well be responsible for their level of ICT capability and digital literacy that you may understand when they enter your early childhood learning environment.


This may not just be because they have used it themselves but as young children learn the most through observation, they could have observed their parents using either a desktop computer or a laptop. Additionally, as they are common in society they might have seen adults operating computers in banks, or in mum and dad’s office, or even on television.


It is important for children to feel comfortable and safe and be allowed maximum independence to further their learning when they come to your early childhood learning environment.


What questions do you need to ask yourself as an early childhood practitioner, when teaching computers to preschoolers?


Here are nine questions that you need to consider.


  1. Is the child’s eye level with the monitor? It is a good idea to have an adjustable monitor so that even if you just have one computer, you can adjust the height. This also goes for adjustable chairs.
  2. Are they sitting at a comfortable distance from the monitor? Not too close or too far away.
  3. Are their feet firmly on the ground? If not, you could use a block to support their feet.
  4. Is the chair the correct size? If you look around, there are companies who sell children’s computer chairs that are not on castors.
  5. Is the mouse child-size? Don’t use an adult size mouse as this will not be comfortable for young children. They are affordable so look around for one that is developmentally appropriate.
  6. Can children with additional needs access the computer? Switches that are operated with pressure from the whole hand are ideal and are easier to use. Have you considered tracker balls?
  7. Is the keyboard child friendly? Nowadays, there are many different types of keyboards and you can find ones that have large clear lower case letters. Also consider the keyboards that have a thin skin that prevents sand from dropping inside. You must choose the ones that have all the relevant keys to allow for experimentation of punctuation and symbols.
  8. Is the software appropriate? This relates to the DATEC guiding principles that it must be educational and transparent along with being to use and understand.
  9. Are adults using the correct vocabulary? This is important that you and any other adult sitting down with the young child on a computer to do so as it further develops their ICT capability. It is also useful so that the children have the language to ask for help when it is needed.



Some other ideas that you can employ when teaching computers to preschoolers includes:

  • Using a sand timer to show children how to self-regulate their time on the computer.
  • Display a range of programs that the children can access at their own level of understanding and development.
  • Add role play software to laptops that you can set up alongside children’s role play.
  • Use software to support peripheral hardware such as webcam software that will capture still and moving images.
  • Consider the use of laptops in different areas of the room to enable meaningful and independent use of a computer.



Developing children’s autonomy with digital technology in preschool activities is essential. When teaching computers to preschoolers these are the key questions that you need to consider in your planning to make learning meaningful and independent today.




Computer Programs for Preschools

Today, not all experiences with computers equally benefit young children’s learning as much depends on the preschool software programs being used. The key to the productive process of integration and the promotion of effective learning with ICT is the context and the actions of as the early childhood teacher.


When choosing computer programs for preschoolers, it is important that they are high-quality and should be selected according to sound educational principles.



There are many ways to use computer programs for preschools that are found on most adults’ computers to accomplish early learning goals. This is an important part of preschool computer learning as children need to know how YOU use computers.


For example, you can let the children see you type the weekly parent update in MS Word and print out copies. Or you can work with children to show them how to play with different fonts and sizes, or with WordArt and other graphics.


And what about MS Excel and PowerPoint? These are also computer programs that young children can use to achieve early learning goals.

If you are interested in looking for computer games for preschoolers, here are 5 top sites to look at today:

In choosing, it is best to abide by the guiding principles of DATEC where it states that:

  • They must be educational
  • They must encourage collaboration
  • They must be able to be integrated into the curriculum and children should be able to play them as well
  • They must allow children to be in control
  • They must be transparent and intuitive


Teaching computers to Preschoolers

When should you introduce computers to a child?

It is not recommended by psychologists that young children under the age of 3 be exposed to any type of screen. However, this means that if they are between the ages of 3 and 6 it is possible to do so. Research indicates some key guidelines for this:

  • They need to be old enough to understand what a computer is.
  • They are old enough to start using computers at school.
  • You are there to supervise them.


At home, if you have young children with siblings then a separate laptop or desktop computer is ideal to prevent any issues over use arising. You might also just want the younger child to start playing with a laptop that doesn’t work at all to get them use to using it. This way you won’t have issues with future damages and it is a good way to begin teaching computer skills before moving onto working laptops or computers.


Using an old keyboard is even a great way to start as you can have it with a monitor and if they don’t work then it is fantastic to be able to help them learn how to type their names. This not only starts to work on their literacy development but it is what they need to develop their fine motor skills too.




The Role of the Teacher and Computers in ECE

There are various roles that computers as the main form of ICT plays in the early learning environment.


Roles of ICT

Examples of technology use

Children use ICT in their play or learning (alone, with peers, or with adults).


Children use computers to play games, listen to stories, or draw pictures.


Children and practitioners use ICT together to scaffold children’s learning.


Using the Internet to locate information or resources, sparked by children’s interest in a particular topic or idea.


Children and practitioners use ICT together to document and reflect on children’s learning, or to share children’s learning with parents, or other practitioners.


Taking digital photos, videos, or audio recordings of activities in the early childhood education setting and reviewing these together or sharing them with parents.

Practitioners and children using ICT to build portfolios of children’s work, to use for evaluating progress in children’s learning and development.




Teaching computer to preschoolers

Don’t Teach children Basic Computer skills…teach Capabilities!

Any child can learn an ICT skill, but do they really know when it is appropriate to use? 

It is when children apply these ICT skills through such tool software such as word processors, spreadsheets, databases or graph plotters to problems arising in the contexts of other disciplines that they develop their ICT capabilities.


To be ICT capable is not merely have secure knowledge and understanding of a wide range of skills and techniques. It includes the disposition to construct ICT solutions to problems which are appropriate to the context.


Regardless of whether your own level of ICT expertise is not of high level you can still help ensure that a high level of ICT capability can be generated by the way in which resources are made available for curriculum work.


Where to start?

At home, if you have young children with siblings then a separate laptop or desktop computer is ideal to prevent any issues over use arising. You might also just want the younger child to start playing with a laptop that doesn’t work at all to get them use to using it. This way you won’t have issues with future damages and it is a good way to begin teaching computer skills before moving onto working laptops or computers.


Using an old keyboard is even a great way to start as you can have it with a monitor and if they don’t work then it is fantastic to be able to help them learn how to type their names. This not only starts to work on their literacy development but it is what they need to develop their fine motor skills too.


Computer hygiene is very important at this young age and they should be taught to wash their hands before using a keyboard along with being gentle with it. Keeping food and drinks away from computer parts is essential.






Teaching computers to preschoolers

How to develop computer skills in meaningful ways?

Throughout children’s preschool computer learning there will be wide range of basic computer skills and techniques that can be applied to any context of learning.


However, to be able to effectively use them in the hope of developing a child’s ICT capability, it is important to first understand not just what they are but their role.


Once you have achieved this then it should be somewhat easier to apply them in meaningful ways.


ICT techniques are the explicit, deliberate manifestations of ICT capability and is the combination of skills and routines. 

They vary from task to task and involve the selection and application of choices by the learner. Used to achieve specific effects created by the software tool chosen they are subject to personal preference.

Though, a key part of ICT capability, it is when ICT skills forms routines when transformation occurs.


Routines involves more than one ICT skill and can also become instinctive. 

A typical routine may involve learning how to use a graphics tablet or a touchscreen.


Children cannot develop a high level of ICT capability without this content knowledge, but while they are learned quickly, they are of no value unless the child has a purpose in mind.


Basic computer skills for Preschoolers and Kindergarten

  • Use fine motor skills to use the mouse to move a cursor to a target on the screen.
  • Show awareness of the “power keys” on a keyboard (e.g., "enter," "esc," "delete," and the space bar).
  • Know the difference between the left and right mouse button (which can be helped by a small label or sticker).
  • Be familiar with at least five quality interactive applications, games, or activities.
  • Have a basic working vocabulary of common technology terms, such as "digital camera," "iPad," "computer," "Internet," "mouse," "keyboard," and "printer."
  • Have been exposed to common technology terms in the natural context of everyday conversation, such as "on/off," "Internet," "browser," "software," "hardware," "computer," "mouse," "monitor," "keyboard," "digital camera," "printer," "battery," and so on.
  • Have taken their first digital photo.
  • Find the numerals on a QWERTY keyboard.
  • Type their first name on a QWERTY keyboard.
  • Understand the basic functions of a browser, including how to open or close windows and use the “back” key.



Though, a key part of ICT capability, it is when ICT skills form routines when transformation occurs. Routines involve more than one ICT skill and can also become instinctive.


A typical routine may involve learning how to use a graphics tablet or a touchscreen.


Children cannot develop a high level of ICT capability without this content knowledge, but while they are learned quickly, they are of no value unless the child has a purpose in mind.



ICT Techniques

Typical ICT techniques may include the following (below):

  • Control the cursor on the screen using a mouse
  • Single-click and double-click
  • Click and drag to move objects on the screen
  • Recognize and select different icons
  • Launch and quit programs
  • Use draw and/or colour editors
  • Use text editors (input letters/text)
  • Use the keyboard to input letters or simple text
  • Type the first name
  • Identify and use "power keys" (Enter, Esc, Delete)
  • Identify and use backspace, space, arrows, enter and number keys
  • Identify parts of the computer (mouse, keyboard, screen, etc.)
  • Use teacher/parent-selected games and activities (may include internet games)
  • Be familiar with at least 5 interactive educational applications
  • Work independently or with a partner


Most of these ICT techniques are transferrable to other programs and can be applied in any context.


Unfamiliar software will require the learning of new ICT techniques, underpinned by previously learned ICT skills and routines.


For example, the creation of shapes in a vector drawing program will require the learning of a new ICT technique, informed by ICT skills and routines acquired from paint programs.


ICT techniques have an element of refinement that does not readily apply to ICT skills and routines. When children can only get better at performing routines by doing them faster, progression in relation to ICT techniques may involve a number of factors.


For example, they might first learn by typing in direct commands. Later, they will be able to do the same thing automatically. Both are ICT techniques used to perform a task but the latter is better because it is not only faster but more sophisticated.


When teaching ICT techniques, it is much easier to use them than it is to describe or explain them. Later on, I will highlight how making ICT techniques explicit is likely to support concept development and the possible transfer of ICT techniques to new situations.


The ICT techniques that we select in a particular problem situation are a function of the context, the resources available and our strategic knowledge.


They are all underpinned by concepts, but their application will also depend on the features and the structure offered by the software or hardware, as well as the knowledge that the young child has of these.


As a final note, if you encourage young children to reflect on the use of ICT techniques across contexts and situations, they are more likely to generate principles, ideas and strategies that are widely applicable.


In a society that expects children to become digitally literate teaching computers to preschoolers involves more than just demonstrating ICT skills and in this article, you will learn how to go beyond this in order for young children to gain an understanding of the ICT potential of things and to be able to construct ICT solutions with computer programs today. Try these strategies today.





Teaching computers to preschoolers

How one computer can be successfully integrated in preschool activities today

There are many ways for early childhood practitioners to use computer activities in preschoolers today. Amongst the first of these technologies is the ongoing use of computers in early childhood education. You may feel that just because you only have one computer that it is not possible to effectively make an impact on child learning through the process of integration.


This barrier that you have can never be further from the truth than it is now.



The productive process of teaching computers to preschoolers and integrating technology can be started by a strong-minded ECE principal or preschool teacher with one single programmable toy, or one digital camera or an ordinary computer.


It would also be wrong to just assume that the process of integrating technology in the preschool classroom requires a high budget. What it does require is:

  • A strong will;
  • A critical approach to your own pedagogical experiences;
  • Perception of modern knowledge about the role of ECE;
  • Courage;
  • The need to innovate;
  • Reverence of children and their parents;
  • Curiosity and the itch to explore the potential of ICT in early childhood education.


The importance of ICT in early childhood education can never be understated or overestimated and the importance of planning in early childhood education in relation to integrating technology represents your first stepping stone in maximising that one computer in your preschool learning environment.


In my last article, I addressed the benefits of computers in early childhood education and the levels of skill differentiation of it. Today, I am going to explore how to use technology in preschool classrooms in relation to what you can do with just one computer but first, let us look at this more closely in terms of the various categories of technology in early childhood education.


Categories of ICT

When looking into much of the literature research relating to ICT in education, this particular concept is sometimes misinterpreted as ‘computer’ or ‘learning with computer’. So when integrating technology in the preschool classroom it would be a mistake to simply encourage and emphasise the learning of computer skills. Additionally, software on desktop computers still represents the sole provision in some preschool learning environments and in many cases the technological equipment can act as a barrier to developing ICT capability across the early childhood education curriculum.


The whole spectrum of ICT in preschool, for example, would consist of the following according to UNESCO (2010, p. 56):

Standard Viewpoint:

  • Hardware – computer (different forms and sizes); standard input and output; interactive input and output; special input and output; digital picture; digital and programmable toys; networking and communication.
  • Software – multipurpose (generic); dedicated (subject-specific); supporting SEN; for pd for early childhood educators; for planning, documenting and assessing; for administration; system.


Viewpoint of purpose:

  • Tools of observing and discovering;
  • Tools for constructing;
  • Tools for recording;
  • Tools for communication;
  • Tools for role playing;
  • Tools for SEN.


Today, it can be a fairly typical scenario for many early childhood teachers just to have at least one computer in their teaching and learning environment. However, if this scenario sound familiar to you then you need to remember the simple fact that integrating technology in the preschool classroom is not about having the latest and greatest technological development, but to use the available technology in the classroom.


Yet, this remains a big problem to encourage teachers to actually use the available technology in the classroom. This is due partly to the lack of staff training and awareness of what is possible topped with the over-quoted excuse of lack of computers.


This lack of awareness not only is to do with what software is available and how to use it, but also to more fundamental issues such as how to make the best use of a single computer.


So the following will demonstrate to you teaching strategies in early childhood education that will enable you to learn how to use technology in preschool classrooms today.


Here are some different teaching methods for preschool when teaching computers to preschoolers.


Grouping Children with computers

Computers as a type of ICT tool have a natural tendency to bring young children together. Even one computer can be used effectively to group children together. A rota can be used in these situations to ensure that each pair of children in the group has the opportunity to work on the task shortly after the briefing and demonstration.


The pairing needs to take into account the following factors:

  • Differences in ICT capability;
  • The personalities of the children;
  • The nature of the task;
  • Sex (single sex pairs generally cooperate more successfully).


Deciding whether to have a rota system will be an important planning process to make. Children who are working on the computer will be unable to participate in whole-class activities when these coincide with their allocated time slot. At times, you may feel justified in allowing the computer rota to override other classroom activities to ensure that a project is completed within a particular timescale.


If you are faced with just using one computer in the classroom then it would be up to you to make a professional decision as to how or when your computer rota will take precedence over other classroom activities – is participation required by every child in every whole-class activity, or can a pair miss one during a week?



Organisational Issues

The way you layout the classroom computer can reflect the way that the computer can be used. However, if you want to use the computer for whole class teaching then you do need to think about its location.


When positioning the computer you need to be aware not to place it in a spot where the screen will reflect the sunlight. This is an important health and safety issue to remember. You cannot have children strain their eyes by looking at the screen in this way.


If you have set the computer up in a suitable location you also need to consider where you will sit when you are using the computer in the class. A good tip is to never work for more than a few seconds with your back to the class.


To add to this, the way in which the classroom is organised can make a considerable difference to the potential for ICT capability. If access to the computer is difficult, irregular or conditional on the completion of other activities, then the use of the computer is seen as something special and this creates a barrier to enabling a ICT capable classroom.


It is essential that computers are placed in a classroom so as to maximise the opportunities for curriculum activity. And a final point, if the activities are well planned, good ICT work can be achieved with one or two computers per class.



Organising Learning with one computer

Time and access to the computer is a key issue here so it is important that you maximise the ‘hands-on’ time as much as possible. Here are some teaching strategies that you can adapt.

  • Do not become involved with problems concerning the computer while dealing with thirty other children as it is not an effective use of your time and this could lead to disruption;
  • Send two of the most able children in the class to begin work on the computer. One will complete the task and drive the mouse, whilst the other one helps by contributing knowledge and ideas;
  • When the child driving the mouse completes their work, they save or print their work and then move aside.


Another approach to teaching computers to preschoolers would be to signal changeovers regularly during a lesson to ensure the pairs get equal access to the keyboard. This is very helpful if you are using an approach to teaching new skills where the activity has to be ‘chunked’ into sub-tasks. The children can alternate when the sub-task is completed. However, if it is more continuous, you would need to announce when the changeover should occur. Children who are used to working cooperatively may only need to be reminded to change roles regularly during the lesson. Throughout this process, it would be important that you continue to monitor the children’s use of the computer to ensure that pairs are sharing equally.



Data-Handling in Numeracy Learning

A sole computer can be used to provide meaningful data-handling activities for the whole class. With the children gathered around the carpet, tell them that you want to find out as much interesting information about them as you can and record these ideas on the board. List suggestions might include name, hair colour, eye colour, favourite pet, and so on. A DAP data-handling package that can be used is Pick-a-Picture (published by BlackCat Educational Software). This uses a set of pre-written templates that allow you to do computer-based data-handling activities very easily.


You can use one of the children as an example to demonstrate how to enter information onto the computer by clicking on each heading and selecting the appropriate option.



The computer acts as the foundational hardware to much other digital technology in preschool activities. You can add a webcam to it to video young children in their activities, and download digital images from cameras into software. Sometimes all you need is just one computer and to imagine the potential of it for learning with the context it will be taught.


A single computer can be integrated into early childhood learning activities alongside other kinds of activities. Educational software can be installed on them to further support learning. Additionally, non-working computers can be used to support role play. Use these strategies to help you learn how to teach computers to preschoolers today.




Computer lessons for preschoolers

Printable Lesson Plans and Activities for ECE

The best way to develop basic computer skills is to enact a digital pedagogy that involves creativity, experimentation, and purposeful computer lessons for preschoolers. In other words, create a need for the use of computers and then guide and facilitate capabilities in ICT.


Meaningful technology integration in early childhood education is about equipping young children with the digital capabilities (not skills) for their future and this starts by effectively planning to integrate digital technology throughout the curriculum.


Download our computer preschool lessons today and start making a difference today.


computer lessons for preschoolers


Examples DAP Activities for Preschoolers

Here are some ways that you can use computers in early childhood education:

  • Demonstrate uses of the computer to make signs, lists, labels, envelopes, notices etc. for role play;
  • Develop children’s creative thinking by following up their interests with them through Internet searches;
  • Use peripherals such as scanners, webcams, microphone, camera to make the most of the computer’s creative opportunities;
  • With children, add speech bubbles to their photographs and support them in putting what they want to say. With experience children can do this themselves with an Early Years desktop publishing program, allowing them greater opportunities for being creative with their photographs;
  • Create cards for celebrations, send e-cards to each other through websites such as CBeebies or Spot the Dog;
  • Add photos of the children at play to the screenplayer;
  • Use creative methods with the various applications on the computer;
  • Model your own creative uses of a computer, and children will quickly join in.

(Price, 2009)


Preschool computer learning is made easy for you as a member of the ICT in Education Teacher Academy with pre-made lesson plans aligned with professional learning hours to gain.





Teaching computers to preschoolers

What about Kindy?

Learning how to effectively teach computer lessons for kindergarten is very similar to that of teaching computer to preschoolers. The basic computer skills for kindergarten are the same as is the best teaching practice to develop their computer skills in meaningful context-driven activities.


In this section, I discuss where you can start beginning with:

  • How to introduce computer to kindergarten.
  • Basic computer skills for kindergarten.
  • Computer lessons for kindergarten


Introducing Computers to Kindergarten students

When introducing a technology such as a computer to kindergarten children there are nine ways that I suggest you apply.


Apply a structured approach

Children benefit from structured teaching at appropriate points in their development of ICT capability.


So any important learning tasks that involve the use of technology need to be introduced by the explanation and questioning of the children first.


This then needs to be concluded by further questioning and a clear summary of what has been learned.





Embed technology integration in meaningful activities

Another important thing to remember is that any there is a close relationship between ICT capability and knowledge, skills, and understanding in other subject areas.


Activities should be creative, purposeful, or experimental. For example, it is a good idea to introduce something like a spreadsheet in a number activity.


Become familiar with the technology first


The third point to remember is that being familiar with the software program is also key to introducing them at the appropriate time of a child’s development.


As you become familiar with them it would make it easier for you to determine when a child is ready to move on to learn about a new ICT technique or software program.


Discuss rather than demonstrate

Another point to remember is that many children who enter your learning environment are quite confident in their use of ICT in varying degrees.


These children expect to be able to explore new hardware and software with as little assistance from teachers and manuals.


It is, therefore, important that when you are introducing new software or hardware to these children you start by discussing what it can do and how it can be achieved, rather than merely demonstrating a fixed sequence of ICT techniques to achieve a single outcome.


Model the appropriate use

It is always better to set a good example yourself when using technology in your early learning environment. Show them how to use it meaningfully and purposefully so that they will learn these traits from you.


Ensure that you are respectful when using technology and set rules for technology use.


Start with the basics

At an early age, you can start with the basics of technology. For example, explain what a computer is and how to use it.


You may want to show them how to search for information on the Internet in a safe way. Don’t try to teach them too much.


Integrate DAP technology

Understand what is developmentally appropriate technology by reading the Developmentally Appropriate Technology in Early Childhood guidelines and don’t expose them to technology if they are under 2 years of age.


Choose the right ICT tools

Throughout my online PD for early childhood teachers, I discuss educational materials that are age-appropriate. These include the ones that give young children full control and involve a high degree of decision-making on their behalf.


Attach value to screen time

By introducing technology only for specific and controlled activities you can help young children to be discerning users of technology. This is strongly linked to my earlier point about introducing it to them during meaningful activities.


Keep the activities to controlled periods and integrate or use technology for educational games and specific learning sessions.



Teaching computers to preschoolers

Computer Lab Skills for Kindergarten

Integrating technology in the kindergarten classroom activities is more than just the teaching of computers skills for kindergarten children. It goes beyond using technology in kindergarten as an ‘add-on’ to the early years curriculum that you may be teaching.


To begin with, the types of technology used in kindergarten spans far and includes DAP software and hardware. The computer, though, is the most used technology in a kindergarten classroom as it is inextricably linked to generic software that can enhance learning and development in key learning areas. They can also be used in conjunction with smartboards, IWBs and overhead digital projectors.


In my free online professional development for early childhood educators, I begin to layout the foundation as to how to use technology in kindergarten classroom by explaining that it is not necessary to get the latest and greatest technological developments. Sometimes, the technology such as a computer that a child has made themselves or a non-working computer parts like keyboards and old but not ancient monitors.


Using technology in kindergarten is about being a responsive educator that values and builds upon a child’s own expertise in computer use since most of them may have already been exposed to them at home. The following computer skills for kindergarten children need to be embedded in meaningful purpose-driven context so that they more than just what they are.


When teaching computers to kindergarten, you have to remember that anyone can use an ICT technique but an ICT capable and technological literate child is someone who ‘knows that they know’ these computer skills for kindergarten. They need to know the appropriate times to use these basic computer skills in kindergarten to develop an ICT solution for a particular problem.

I will outline this later.

Monitoring and intervening is also very important and my full online pd for early childhood teachers and carers covers how to choose the opportune moments for this and involves keeping track of computer skills for kindergarten and preschool children. The following is a list of skills that can be achieved when using the computer in kindergarten.


Here is a list of computer skills that you can use in your integrating of technology in the kindergarten classroom:

Basic computer skills for kindergarten children include:

  • The names for the parts of a computer
  • How to exit from a window
  • How to move a mouse accurately
  • How to hold the mouse still when clicking
  • How to click, double click and drag
  • How to press a key lightly so only one letter/digit is entered
  • How to log in/log off
  • How to turn on/off the computer and monitor safely
  • How to double click a shortcut icon


Medium computer skills for Kindergarten children include:

  • How to identify that multiple internet windows are open at the same time (or tabs) and exit out of one or all.
  • How to use the backspace enter key and space bar
  • How to manipulate sound level through headphones
  • How to open/use a folder {not multiple... just one level of clicking}
  • How to use a scrolling button or the scroll bar on the screen
  • How to navigate websites using their schema of previous sites


More Advanced Computer Skills for Kindergartners Need:

  • How to type basic things (name, login information, a phonetically spelled sentence) using a keyboard
  • How to use the taskbar to switch between open windows


Intentional teaching strategies are necessary to help young children use computer hardware successfully to support their learning. Here are the basic computer skills that you will want to support in your work with the children.

  • Turning the computer on, starting and stopping programs or activities;
  • Understanding the safe use of hardware: no banging, hitting, bumping, or knocking; no liquids or moisture; no pulling cords or sticking things anywhere without permission;
  • Making the connection between moving the mouse and what happens on screen;
  • Understanding the cursor – what it is, its different forms and functions, and how to use it;
  • Clicking the mouse, highlighting text, and dragging items;
  • Drawing with the mouse or by touching the screen;
  • Keyboarding skills – typing letters, then using punctuation, numbers and capitalisation; using function keys such as Delete, Return or Backspace;
  • Undoing, erasing, going forward and backward from one screen to the next;
  • Using appropriate touch screen and multi-touch gestures such as a swipe, touch and drag and double tap;
  • Understanding icons, how they are used and what they mean;
  • Understanding and using input devices: disks (CDs or DVDs) and flash drives (USB memory sticks).


There are various levels of differentiation in the use of computers in early childhood education and includes for example:

  • To have opportunity to access computer via touch-screen, mouse or interactive whiteboard;
  • To name peripherals –mouse, monitor, keyboard, printer, webcam, scanner, cursor;
  • To use touch screen to select icons etc.;
  • To use mouse to move cursor – select icons (click) (click and drag) (click, drag, drop).

(Price, 2009)


Digital Literacy for Children

Computers, as form of ICT, will no doubt continue to be a part of children’s lives and as such this is why ICT capability or digital literacy for children is a core component of computer knowledge and skills. As children learn to use computers in meaningful subject-related activities they will develop ICT capability which involves more than just ICT techniques but ‘knowing that they know’ these ICT techniques and how to apply them to problems that require them to use the computer and its applications to solve these appropriately.

Digital literacy activities need to well-planned and structured so as to encourage open-ended exploration. Young children are commonly referred to as ‘digital natives’ and so don’t need a lot of encouragement to use computers.





Computer lessons for kindergarten

How to Teach Computer Skills

Like teaching computer to preschoolers to be able to understand and teach computer skills for kindergarten effectively you first need to understand what ICT capability is. The above ICT skills or techniques do represent a small part of what ICT capability is but it is in the effective teaching of them where it will be developed.


Here is a small breakdown of where ICT techniques and computer skills fit in. ICT capability is constituted of five components and it is when a child can carry out this process that makes them ICT capable.


  • Routines – ICT techniques that require no conscious thought to apply;
  • ICT techniques – in this case, also known as computer ICT skills, are the explicit, deliberate manifestations of ICT capability. Examples include the above-mentioned.
  • Processes – a series of ICT techniques;
  • Higher order skills – demonstrated when young children 1) decide when it is appropriate to use a particular computer skill for a specific purpose 2) plan what routines, techniques and processes are to be used.
  • Conceptual understanding – focus on the concepts behind the computer skills. Whole class teaching can be used to discuss examples and non-examples, both with and without ICT, to highlight the important features of the concept. Challenge naïve ideas about handling ICT tools and techniques, both in whole class teaching where appropriate, and when monitoring the individual.


Here is how you can teach basic computer skills for kindergarten.

ICT Techniques (computer ICT skills):

When introducing new software tools to children, start by discussing what it can do and how it can be achieved, rather than merely demonstrating a fixed sequence of techniques to achieve a single outcome.

Students need to associate the actions involved in a technique with the effect it achieves. Having a name for the technique and/or effect is helpful.

The name should be seen not as something extra to learn but as a means of communicating and thinking about the action and its effect.

This is especially so if the name is used in menu options, but is also helpful where the movements, buttons or shortcuts are used.


Processes – more general and are made up of several techniques. An understanding of relevant concepts is needed in order to analyse a situation and identify the particular techniques required to reach the desired goal. Students need to work on a task which is NOT set out step-by-step. This allows them to try out new ideas and you can observe their approach and intervene when they fail to make the expected progress.

The minimum level of support should be given. Structure the activity by questioning, prompting and showing if necessary.

Withdraw as much support as possible to see what the learners can achieve unaided. à a student’s understanding of a process such as developing a poster using a desktop publishing program, or modeling with a spreadsheet, cannot be represented by a checklist. It requires a description of the way in which they approach a task and the support that they need.


Conceptual understanding – focus on the concepts behind the basic computer skills for kindergarten children. Whole class teaching can be used to discuss examples and non-examples, both with and without ICT, in order to highlight the important features of the concept. Challenge naïve ideas about handling ICT tools and techniques, both in whole class teaching where appropriate, and when monitoring the individual.



Computer lessons for kindergarten pdf

Kindy Lesson Plans for Computers

Why adapt and apply our computer lessons for kindergarten?

To download your free ICT lesson plans for kindergarten this year you will need to become a member of the ICT in Education Teacher Academy.


For Academy members, all resources are free and you can access the desired early childhood education resources in the Member’s Library or you can opt in to claiming up to 3 hours of PD by joining our 3 hr teaching resources that have embedded lesson plans in them that are supported by educational theories.


Each one not only lists the kindergarten computers skills associated but also includes key information to do with the higher order thinking skills that children will initiate in the process of developing their ICT capabilities.


Download your free computer lessons for kindergarten PDF to start today.

Kindergarten computer lessons



How to teach computer to primary students

Moving Forward to Primary Education

As a primary or elementary school teacher, your goal for students should always be to equip them with sufficient experience to enable them to use computers or other forms of ICT without having to stop and think.


The most effective way of teaching computers to primary students including ICT skills is to not only connect the above strategies taught in preschool but to create a need and then to be on hand to show them what to do when they are engaged in a problem.


I have stressed the importance of going beyond just teaching basic computers skills by developing their capabilities in ICT and confidence to make independent choices.


The focus of this session, therefore, is on providing primary students with meaningful subject-related contexts to help forget that they are using a computer to achieve their goals.



Teaching ICT Capability in Primary Education

Teaching computer to primary students is never straightforward. To start, you should never just teach basic computer skills. I believe that I have stressed this enough. ICT capability involves a good deal more than developing basic computer skills and competence in computers. Today, this remains one of the biggest challenges for primary school teachers – planning ICT activities that that can help the children develop their ICT capabilities.


Here is what you need to do:

  • Don’t use sophisticated software to enable progression in capabilities unless the task demands it. You should aim to broaden and elaborate contexts and use it as a consequence of the increasing elaboration of curriculum contexts, and not as an end in itself.
  • Allow students to find and overcome difficulties if learning is to occur.
  • Rather than teaching more and more ICT skills for their own sake provide tasks that require increasing sensitivity to information requirements, sophisticated decision making, knowledge of available ICT tools and accuracy in evaluation (then teach the ICT techniques at the stage where the task provides a suitable context).
  • Know why you are going to use ICT in your teaching – would the software demonstrate or explain aspects of a topic far more clearly than would a traditional lesson by exploiting the affordances of the technology to provide dynamic display.
  • Question the whole class beforehand prior to activities using ICT to clarify your expectations, focus students on what they are going to do, and generate ideas on how they might go about it.
  • Identify to students when it might be helpful to plan their work first on paper so that they would have a clear view of the layout of the document.
  • Use highly structured tasks to introduce particular ICT techniques – this would give students the opportunity to use those ICT techniques subsequently in more meaningful ways in which they could make decisions about the choice of ICT techniques.
  • And recognise that an activity usually has more than one purpose – this occurs when you integrate ICT into your thinking about other subjects. If you do this, it will enable you to combine the ICT and other subject issues in your discussions and questioning of the class or group.


If you would like know more about how to teach computer to primary students, then become a member of the ICT in Education Teacher Academy and gain instant access to online workshops for primary teachers today.


Or enrol in one of my subject-related workshops now.


How to teach computer to primary students

What knowledge should students leave primary school with?

The goal of all primary teachers is to aim to equip their students with sufficient experience to enable them to use ICT without having to stop and think. Today, most of us learn basic computer skills on a need-to-know basis. For example, we may that a program can do a specific task for us but we will only use it for lessor reasons.


If you want to teach students ICT skills then create a need and then be on hand to show them what to do when they are engaged in the problem. What then is the basic computer knowledge for primary students?


Word processing is a basic and important skill needed by students throughout their formal schooling. As they progress through primary their expertise should increase. They should be able to:

  • Save documents and save them in different formats and understand what these formats mean.
  • Touch type effectively.
  • Send a document to a printer as well as changing preferences, page size, colour, or black and white.


By the end of primary school, their exiting word processing skills should be:

  • Changing font, font size, bold, italics, highlight and font colour.
  • Justifying, changing spacing, indenting.
  • Setting up bullets and numbers and re-starting numbered lists.
  • Inserting and modifying a table.
  • Inserting a blank page and understanding why this is used.
  • Inserting a picture – embedding it tightly with text, understanding how to re-size and re-position it.
  • Inserting graphics, tables, smart art, symbols.
  • Inserting hyperlink, setting how the linked page opens.
  • Understanding how to set up a header, footer, page numbers.
  • Setting margins, knowing which is the standard setting, changing page orientation, setting up columns.
  • Using templates.


Spreadsheets are also important and as with word processing there are skills that are associated with it. Basic computer knowledge for primary students includes similar to that of word processing as well being able to:

  • Set up columns, changing column size, inserting or deleting rows and columns.
  • Using basic formulas (for example, AutoSum).
  • Changing font size, colour, type, designating a label to font, wrapping text.
  • Inserting a pivot table and understanding what such tables are used for, converting data into a graph and knowing what the difference types of graphs are used for.
  • Inserting an image, clip art, shape, smart art.
  • Modifying margins and orientation, inserting tables.


It would be important that your choice of spreadsheet program be mainstream in your selection. Choosing something like MS Excel is what you want as you want your students to have a set of skills and experiences that transfer beyond your classroom.



For MS PowerPoint, students will need to have basic computer knowledge of the following:

  • How to select a layout, insert new slides, slide formats.
  • How to change font, font size, colour, bold, italics, justify, insert bullets, number lists.
  • How to insert a table, image, clip art, smart art, graphic, movie, sound file, hyperlink.
  • How to design your own slide design.
  • How to use animations – selecting these carefully so that they support the presentation and not distract from it.
  • How to create handouts and notes pages.


If you would like to know more about how to teach computer to primary teachers, become a member of the ICT in Education Teacher Academy today.



Teaching computer to preschool

Downloadable Lesson Plans

The most effective way to develop basic computer skills for students is in the process of developing their ICT capabilities – in meaningful activities, embedded purposeful subject-related contexts. For example, as a primary school teacher you should never aim to isolate these skills and treat them as an extra skill to learn. I refuse to create lesson plans that do this.


An example of this is, for example, I won’t have a lesson plan just about teaching children how to use a database on a computer. Instead, in teaching computer to primary students you will be able teach a knowledge of database principles and process and the skills required to enter and manipulate data while using a database to help children learn something useful about a subject.


Additionally, simple exposure to ICT such as computers will not be sufficient to ensure that learning occurs. If you fail to challenge primary school students intellectually then your lessons will just be mediocre as it will only focus on ICT skills and techniques.


ICT skills are the building block of ICT capabilities and with my computer lessons for primary school you will be able to achieve this today.


Download a free sample of my computer activities for primary school today.


Teaching computers to preschoolers


Meaningful technology integration in early learning environments begins when educators learn about teaching computers in preschoolers. Today, the importance of ICT in early childhood education cannot be understated or underestimated as we as a society continue to embrace digital technologies in our lives. 

If you are serious about teaching computer to preschoolers, kindergarten or primary education become a member of ICT in Education Teacher Academy now.

Become a member for just $20 per month today.