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Computer literacy needs to start early

My 6-year old is fairly savvy for a, well, a 6-year old. He can make his way around a website pretty easily and doesn't have any problems with the applications he uses at school.

My 6-year old is fairly savvy for a, well, a 6-year old. He can make his way around a website pretty easily and doesn't have any problems with the applications he uses at school. However, basic computer literacy seems oddly lacking for the little guy. Obviously, I'm happy to show him the ropes, but I'm a big geek. There are plenty of non-geek parents out there without 4 or 5 computers in the house on which said little guys can learn and experiment.

Here's an example. He wanted to look up pictures of bears tonight (a recent project on bears left him obsessed with the black variety, although he will happily tell you the other colors the misleadingly-named bears might take on), but didn't know what a cursor was or how to navigate comfortably in a web browser.

I don't expect my 6-year old to be a 100wpm touch typist either, but he should know his way around a keyboard. Given youngsters' aptitude for language acquisition, the time for learning to type is not middle school. It's kindergarten and first grade. The eye-hand coordination may not be there, but the ability to recognize the location of letters and punctuation marks is certainly present at this age.

Now that he is reading fairly well, it's an especially easy and important time to tap into his curiosity and reading skill. He was hindered in his web searches not by reading or spelling issues, but by typing and navigation struggles. Taking some time in the computer lab to emphasize computer literacy skills in addition to the educational applications will make time on the computers far more productive for the kids.