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computer classes in school?

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I'm already feeling very old for a) having to ask this question at all, and b) not even knowing quite how to phrase it.  But, do schools now offer much in the way of formal computer instruction?  Starting during which grade? 

Or, is it just assumed that kids now pick up the basic skills their own (a la my already iPad-proficient preschooler)? 
#1 - December 15, 2011, 12:31 AM

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Our elementary school starts with the computer class in kindergarten (it's a "special", which means it's once every 6-day cycle). And the kids use the computer regularly in the classroom as part of their literacy curriculum (they use the site starfall.com).  We're outside of Boston.
#2 - December 15, 2011, 04:29 AM

In suburban NY, kindergarten has one computer in the classroom and they're allowed short periods to work on educational websites. First through fourth graders go to a computer lab "special" once a week. In first, it was a basic intro to computers. Second they created Power Point presentations. Third and Fourth they work on Mavis Beacon Type to Learn. In fifth, they all get a laptop to use at school (though I'm not sure what they do with it since we're in fourth)
#3 - December 15, 2011, 04:38 AM
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Formal weekly classes in kindergarten through fifth. By sixth grade they use laptops regularly and submit most projects digitally.
#4 - December 15, 2011, 04:47 AM

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I'm in Colorado (Boulder, to be exact), and our elementary school starts weekly computer classes in first grade in the library's computer lab. My daughter's first grade teacher had them doing online research and power point presentations. She's in 3rd grade now and she's learning to type.
#5 - December 15, 2011, 05:24 AM
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My kids had "computer" in their last public school ... but in reality it was nothing but using the computer for test practice not really computer skills. In their elementary school before that (in another state) they did power-point and stuff.

Mine are elementary school drop-outs, so I know nothing beyond those years.  :)
#6 - December 15, 2011, 05:34 AM
Making metaphors out of molehills for over thirty years.

In our district every high school student has a laptop they use 24/7 during the school year.

Elementary there are mobile lap top carts - instruction starts early and often.
#7 - December 15, 2011, 06:53 AM
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Wow - okay, the more responses I read, the older I feel!  I must have been one of the last of the dinosaurs who actually took typing on an electric typewriter.  I'm so glad that I asked the question, because I hadn't realized just how early kids are starting now. 

Thank you for the info! 
#8 - December 15, 2011, 08:04 AM

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Wow - okay, the more responses I read, the older I feel!  I must have been one of the last of the dinosaurs who actually took typing on an electric typewriter.  I'm so glad that I asked the question, because I hadn't realized just how early kids are starting now. 

Thank you for the info! 

I used a typewriter at school. Computers were Ataris in those days, and only used by kids for playing Pac Man. I loathe the fact that kids use computers so early on now. I'm convinced it's not necessary so early on - I'm yet to meet a kid who finds it difficult to find their way around a computer, whereas I know plenty who can't even write with a pen! Rant over. Sorry!
#9 - December 15, 2011, 08:18 AM

Rant on, Franzilla! Just ask the average high school kid to compose a sentence or use punctuation.

Okay, I'm through ranting. too.

#10 - December 15, 2011, 08:36 AM

Thre are computer labs that each grade gets a chance at (actually they had this when I was in school starting around maybe grade 5 or 6). Also, several computers in the school library and at least one in each classroom for elementary. We've got a high schooler now too, and their computer class is an elective which allows them to learn things like CAD, photoshop, etc.
#11 - December 15, 2011, 08:44 AM

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At my son's school the 3 year old class is the first one to have a computer in it for the children's use.  At that age they were expected to be able to log on by clicking on a picture icon which was specific to each child then choose and enter a game and play it such as a letter, number game etc.  Kindergarten is the first age where they go once a week to a computer class called the mouse club where they have a checklist of computer skills for them to master.  Also an in class computer each child gets on every day as part of the daily rotation of activites.  I thought the mouse club was a cute name for the computer class.  However my then five year old pointed out only the really old computers have a mouse because all the computers he has used outside of school are the touch pad type.  He has had his own IPAD since he was four or five.
#12 - December 15, 2011, 12:34 PM

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I used a typewriter at school. Computers were Ataris in those days, and only used by kids for playing Pac Man. I loathe the fact that kids use computers so early on now. I'm convinced it's not necessary so early on - I'm yet to meet a kid who finds it difficult to find their way around a computer, whereas I know plenty who can't even write with a pen! Rant over. Sorry!

Ha ha, yeah, you see, back in my day, we had Apple IIe computers in our elementary school class. And we pressed the "open apple" key and we liked it! There were no fancy-shmancy flash drives. We used floppy discs! And they could hold only one document!  That's the way it was and we liked it. We loved it! :old
#13 - December 15, 2011, 06:27 PM

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Ha ha, yeah, you see, back in my day, we had Apple IIe computers in our elementary school class. And we pressed the "open apple" key and we liked it! There were no fancy-shmancy flash drives. We used floppy discs! And they could hold only one document!  That's the way it was and we liked it. We loved it! :old

He he. We really need a female version of this guy – :old – so I can put him at the end of my 'back in the day' rants too!
#14 - December 15, 2011, 08:51 PM

I used a typewriter at school. Computers were Ataris in those days, and only used by kids for playing Pac Man. I loathe the fact that kids use computers so early on now. I'm convinced it's not necessary so early on - I'm yet to meet a kid who finds it difficult to find their way around a computer, whereas I know plenty who can't even write with a pen! Rant over. Sorry!
Siski - you'll be glad to know my kids don't touch a computer at school. ;) I think they have some optional computer time in high school. (The school is preK-12). But as of now it's all with a pen. We're very techy at home, so I don't worry about it. Like you said, it tends come pretty naturally. My three year old can turn on my laptop, log out of my user and into his user, open a browser, and find pbskids.org to play games...
#15 - December 15, 2011, 09:51 PM
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Just wanted to add that my daughters have computer class.  Yesterday they told me they were designing Christmas cards for their teachers.  But here's the thing. My youngest daughter is TWO. And she knows how to work a mouse as well as I do. When I found her clicking around on my laptop, I could barely believe it. And now my 5-year old, who is just learning how to read and write, is also learning how to type at the same time.
#16 - December 16, 2011, 05:02 AM

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Just wanted to add that my daughters have computer class.  Yesterday they told me they were designing Christmas cards for their teachers.  But here's the thing. My youngest daughter is TWO. And she knows how to work a mouse as well as I do. When I found her clicking around on my laptop, I could barely believe it. And now my 5-year old, who is just learning how to read and write, is also learning how to type at the same time.

They learn so fast and so easily! But I can't help feeling a though learning to draw/cut/glue/sprinkle without a computer uses more parts of the brain than doing it all on computer. I could be wrong, it's just my suspicion. My daughter (4) knows her way around a computer really well, and I guess that's partly why it doesn't seem necessary at school... but maybe not everyone has a computer so providing it at school ensures that all kids are adept at it? I dunno.

Robin, so glad to hear penmanship is still being taught! He he. I read not that long ago that there were plans to remove the need to teach children cursive writing because 'they find it too difficult.' Well, yeah, if they learn to write on cell phones and computers then of course they'd find it difficult! Ooh can't seem to stop ranting...
#17 - December 16, 2011, 07:27 AM

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They learn so fast and so easily! But I can't help feeling a though learning to draw/cut/glue/sprinkle without a computer uses more parts of the brain than doing it all on computer. I could be wrong, it's just my suspicion. My daughter (4) knows her way around a computer really well, and I guess that's partly why it doesn't seem necessary at school... but maybe not everyone has a computer so providing it at school ensures that all kids are adept at it? I dunno.


My kids only do computers a couple of hours every week. They do the other stuff, too. There needs to be balance.

And as for the penmanship thing, I think that sadly, I am losing my OWN penmanship. A lot of people are, because they never write with a pen anymore! I hope that they don't stop teaching it in schools, because I think it's going to be one of those things that comes back. The world is going to get tired of the impersonal nature of email and texting and there is going to be a revival of letter-writing and good penmanship will be in vogue once again. At least, I'm hoping.
#18 - December 16, 2011, 01:17 PM

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And as for the penmanship thing, I think that sadly, I am losing my OWN penmanship. A lot of people are, because they never write with a pen anymore! I hope that they don't stop teaching it in schools, because I think it's going to be one of those things that comes back. The world is going to get tired of the impersonal nature of email and texting and there is going to be a revival of letter-writing and good penmanship will be in vogue once again. At least, I'm hoping.

I would love for it to make a come back! I love my keyboard, without it I wouldn't be able to write half as much – and when I have to write with pen and paper I'm amazed at how much muscle power it takes. But I do love paper and pen... I have a stash of letters from when I lived abroad in my 20s and they're so precious to me – now that I'm again living abroad but communicating with everyone by email or via Facebook, I wonder what I'll have to show for my time? I've tried saving emails between me and my mum/dad/sister, as well as my husband, but there'll be so much other stuff lost forever... floating around in the digital universe. Sigh.
#19 - December 16, 2011, 06:49 PM

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My kids only do computers a couple of hours every week. They do the other stuff, too. There needs to be balance.

And as for the penmanship thing, I think that sadly, I am losing my OWN penmanship. A lot of people are, because they never write with a pen anymore! I hope that they don't stop teaching it in schools, because I think it's going to be one of those things that comes back. The world is going to get tired of the impersonal nature of email and texting and there is going to be a revival of letter-writing and good penmanship will be in vogue once again. At least, I'm hoping.

In my elementary school, penmanship meant writing in cursive...unfortunately I never really saw any value in it. Sorry!
#20 - December 17, 2011, 05:05 AM

I would love for it to make a come back! I love my keyboard, without it I wouldn't be able to write half as much – and when I have to write with pen and paper I'm amazed at how much muscle power it takes. But I do love paper and pen... I have a stash of letters from when I lived abroad in my 20s and they're so precious to me – now that I'm again living abroad but communicating with everyone by email or via Facebook, I wonder what I'll have to show for my time? I've tried saving emails between me and my mum/dad/sister, as well as my husband, but there'll be so much other stuff lost forever... floating around in the digital universe. Sigh.

They not only teach it, they grade it. My oldest never made the A honor roll because she couldn't manage more than a B in penmanship. ;) But I shudder to think what her handwriting would look like if it weren't taught at all. Now it's still graded (in 5th) but it's in the character grade part so it doesn't factor into GPA (and she managed an E for excellent - she's been working at it!)
#21 - December 18, 2011, 03:14 PM
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In my elementary school, penmanship meant writing in cursive...unfortunately I never really saw any value in it. Sorry!

Cursive, like touch typing as opposed to two-finger typing, is way faster than printing your letters. I think that's the main value.


Robin, that's a sad story! I really struggled to keep my cursive tidy. I vividly remember crying when I was little because with extreme effort I'd managed to write several beautiful cursive lines. I was crying because I felt I'd never be able to sustain such effort for the rest of my life!
#22 - December 18, 2011, 06:28 PM

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Cursive, like touch typing as opposed to two-finger typing, is way faster than printing your letters. I think that's the main value.



If I write something fast it comes out as a sort of mishmash of regular printing and cursive. I have totally forgotten how to write a lot of the cursive capitals such as Q.
#23 - December 18, 2011, 06:57 PM

I remember attending weekly IT classes in the "Computer Room" at primary (elementary) school in the 90s. We then learned touch-typing in early high school (2000s) and had the option of IT electives in later years (eg. programming). As early as 2001-2002, there was a special 'Laptop Class' in my school where the students used laptops for every subject.

And as for the penmanship thing, I think that sadly, I am losing my OWN penmanship. A lot of people are, because they never write with a pen anymore!

This is a really big problem for Uni students (in my experience, at least). All semester we rely on laptops to research, take lecture notes and type assignments. Then, when exams come along, we suddenly have to write huge amounts of text by hand. My exams are generally 3.5 hours long and composed of extremely long essays; there's no time to rest or flex your fingers. It's physically painful when you're not used to holding a pen.

Actually, I feel sorry for the examiners; I can't imagine having to decipher my scribbles!
#24 - December 18, 2011, 11:08 PM
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I remember attending weekly IT classes in the "Computer Room" at primary (elementary) school in the 90s. We then learned touch-typing in early high school (2000s) and had the option of IT electives in later years (eg. programming). As early as 2001-2002, there was a special 'Laptop Class' in my school where the students used laptops for every subject.

This is a really big problem for Uni students (in my experience, at least). All semester we rely on laptops to research, take lecture notes and type assignments. Then, when exams come along, we suddenly have to write huge amounts of text by hand. My exams are generally 3.5 hours long and composed of extremely long essays; there's no time to rest or flex your fingers. It's physically painful when you're not used to holding a pen.

Actually, I feel sorry for the examiners; I can't imagine having to decipher my scribbles!

You mean in those "blue books?" Gah...
#25 - December 18, 2011, 11:39 PM

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