Love them or hate them, computers are a part of our lives. Our children do not know a world without them. To be a part of the child’s world, even a pre-schooler’s, is to be computer literate. At the very least, you must know the basics. It is essential that you make your computer your friend. I make this comment because I am amazed at the number of teachers and others who tell me they don’t have an email address or they can’t remember it. This is extraordinary given that education departments give every teacher an email address and that you can open up a free account with hotmail, yahoo, gmail etc down at your local library or for a minimal cost for your time, down at the local internet cafe.
Of course the downside is the amount of junk mail that comes through your email inbox but there are ways around that. Since you are reading this newsletter on your computer screen, I am obviously preaching to the converted. I am suggesting that you encourage people you know who currently have a phobia about using the computer to just have a go. Lead them by the hand if need be. You do not have to be an expert. I am still basically using my computer as little more than a word processor with access to emails and the web but I can’t survive without it. I am the first to encourage children to be active, to read, to play, to talk and so on, rather than be in front of any kind of screen, but the fact is their lives are dominated by computers. Use that to your advantage.
Alvin Tofler in his book “Future Shock”, written about thirty-five years ago, which is when computers were beginning to be used, although PCs were not yet invented, said that people who would survive and thrive in the 21st century were those who could best adapt to change. He was right of course.
In case, like me, you don’t fully appreciate all that your keyboard can do, you may find the following of benefit to help you with some basic functions. I found it amongst the newsletters from Jason Jordan’s PCGURU newsletter (http://www.pcguru.com.au). You might like to cut and paste it or print it for future reference.
In Microsoft Word, you can use all of the function keys for common commands. Here they are:
F1 – Get Help or the Office Assistant
F2 – Move text or graphics
F3 – Insert an AutoText entry (after Microsoft Word displays the entry)
F4 – Repeat the last action
F5 – Choose the Go To command (Edit menu)
F6 – Go to the next pane or frame
F7 – Choose the Spelling command (Tools menu)
F8 – Extend a selection
F9 – Update selected fields
F10 – Activate the menu bar
F11 – Go to the next field
F12 – Choose the Save As command (File menu)
Function keys are also valuable in many games. You use them to load guns, blast aliens and cast spells, among other things.