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I got a chance to speak to the 15-year-old child of the security guard of our office. He was looking to get started with a computer and was looking for guidance. I must also say that it is rare for people from economic backgrounds as the security guard to get their kids a computer any earlier. But it is also very rare for them to get any at all, so I want to help. There would be no Internet connection available on the computer.

I will not be able to coach him or provide tuitions due to time constraints on my part and I also want him to learn it on his own. I am just looking for advice you may have gathered on how to get a fresh mind started with a computer and how to track their progress.

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    For clarification: what will the computer be there for? Just basic computer usage skills? Gaming? Office-Applications? Or perhaps even programming? – Layna Feb 6 '15 at 9:25
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    While I certainly applaud your interest in this teen, this is not really a parenting question per se. It depends on his interests and goals, and whether there is any applicability to it. Maybe Software Recommendations.SE? – anongoodnurse Feb 6 '15 at 10:13
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    I tend to think this is okay as a parenting question with a few minor modifications - even though it's not a parent per se, a parent might reasonably have a similar question. I think if it's asked as a 'recommend books' explicitly it's not good here, but as a general 'how do I help a 15 year old learn to use a computer' it's fine. – Joe Feb 6 '15 at 15:53
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    It's clearly not computer science- the comment on my answer shows this (isn't interested in programming right away at least). And we've had more computer science questions here - this one for example. – Joe Feb 9 '15 at 15:48
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    what country, btw? – warren Feb 10 '15 at 23:15
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I think the first thing he should become familiar with is typing. Obtain a typing tutor program - in the US "Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing" is a common one for example - and have him practice enough that he is able to touch-type at least moderately. If he's used to texting this shouldn't be too hard.

The second things is to become familiar with word processing. OpenOffice.org, Microsoft Word, whatever you can obtain. Even if he does his school work on paper still, suggest he practice doing some of his essays or reports also in the word processor. This not only teaches this particular skill, but also teaches how to be used to many editors, which will be helpful on the Internet and in programming.

The third thing I'd suggest is to install a couple of interesting games. Whatever you're comfortable with and he'd be interested in. Games are fun, and encourage using the computer - and they encourage learning some of the interactive principles of computers.

I wouldn't push programming or anything like that at this point: just getting used to the concept of computing is sufficient for now. Programming is something he may or may not be interested in, but I find it's better to let it come naturally. At this point, computer literacy is the real key.

  • I too don't want him to get started with programming right off the bat, so I was thinking around the very same things but you helped clarify. I think I will install a few open source word-processing, graphics and gaming apps. But I think I will still leave a compiler in there somewhere, in case he ever comes around to discover it. I will institute goals around your ideas. Thanks for chipping in. – kumar Feb 7 '15 at 7:16
  • Whilst I agree with the majority of your input, I know people who are Auto-Cad geniuses, who still finger peck when using Word (20wpm!). I'd say provide a variety of options, then let them find their passion, and move forward from there, rather than encourage some set learning path of tools :-) Your point about literacy really is the underlying factor. – EvilDr May 5 '15 at 9:23
  • there are certain games that can be programmed inside the game - eg. Minecraft has quite extensive capabilities now both physical circuits & text based 'commands', offline play, plus many books available on teaching the mechanics. A small example of the huge things that can be achieved youtube.com/watch?v=aQqWorbrAaY – RozzA Dec 30 '16 at 0:43
  • On "compiler", I recommend Python and one of the many available books aimed at kids and teenagers. – Paul Johnson Mar 31 at 17:53

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