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How To Teach My Parents Basic Computer Skills

Being afraid of the computer is very common.
You need to start them slowly. Don't try to teach them how to use the internet until they have learnt some of the basics. Trying to use the internet when you don't have the mouse under control, can't edit your mistakes and don't even know where the letters are on a keyboard is almost impossible.
The most important thing is to keep calm. Trying to teach a member of your family to use a computer is like trying to teach them to drive. I usually say to people "don't go there"!!
If you've decided to take the plunge you must learn to keep calm. I say to my students - "it isn't a competition". Everyone learns at their own pace.
Start by getting them to just use the mouse to move around the screen. Just using the mouse takes practice. If your parents are older and find using a conventional mouse hard, try a roller ball mouse instead. If you are using a laptop, older people find it really hard not to tap on the mousepad, so find themselves clicking when they don't mean to.
Next show them how to open a program - I start people off with Word or Open Office writer. Find some text and get them to start typing. At this stage - mistakes are good. If they don't make mistakes you can't show them how to correct them.
When they have a couple of paragraphs on the screen, start showing them how to use bold, italic and underline. Try one, type a few lines, try another.
Don't try to do too much in each lesson - otherwise they will get confused and you will get frustrated.
Remember - take it one step at a time. If they get frustrated, encourage them to look back at what they have learned, rather than looking forward and being depressed about what they can't do.
Once they have the mouse under control, can use the basic icons (b,i, u, font size & style, text alignment etc) and can save, open and print then they can start using the internet.
Set them up with an email address. Being able to send and receive emails is a huge confidence booster. Don't try and teach them everything about the internet at once.
Remember - keep calm. Don't rush them. They will learn much more slowly than you did. Try to make it fun. If it degenerates into a war - stop. Find them a class.

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