7 Computer Skills Your Student Must Know

If your student was in a public school, chances are they would take some kind of Career and Technology (CTE) course that would teach them computer basics. It could be an Information Technology course, an introduction to web design or graphic design, or even a course using Microsoft Office. 

If you are a homeschool parent, you can still teach these basic skills by either purchasing curriculum on Teachers Pay Teachers or using free video tutorials on YouTube. 

What are the Benefits of Teaching Computer Skills?

Students should be computer literate in the 21st century. It can help them in college or in a career. So much of society is technology-based, and students should have a well-rounded skill set to function in that environment. You can prepare your child for the future with tutorials for improving computer skills. 

What Computer Skills Should Students Know?

Word Processing Skills

Students should have some word-processing skills. They need to be able to create documents such as letters, essays, research papers, and resumes. Knowing how to create these documents will make life easier if they attend college.

Additionally, having word-processing skills can help students have more job opportunities. Being able to use Microsoft Word or Google Docs to create and format documents is very useful in any business or school setting. Word processing is not just about typing (although a decent typing speed is always a good skill to have), it is about document creation. The ability to create documents for work or school is an essential computer literacy skill that all students should have. 


Knowing how to create simple spreadsheets in Excel or Google Sheets is also a great skill. Not only are spreadsheets helpful in keeping track of and organizing data with numbers or dollar amounts, but they also have very simple built-in math functions. Typical uses for spreadsheets may include budgeting, keeping track of money, or displaying numerical information in charts. 

While both Microsoft Excel and Google Sheets have a simple button to add numbers, students can also learn formulas to subtract, multiply, and divide. Beyond those, there are lots of more advanced formulas to perform complex calculations. Formulas can be found by doing a simple Google search. 

Here are links to some formulas for Excel and formulas for Google Sheets.


Being able to send email is a non-negotiable. Students must learn how to compose and send emails correctly. This skill was so important for remote learning during COVID. It was critical. I am happy to say that students got very good at it! They actually used email to ask questions in addition to turning in work. Good email programs to start with would be Gmail or ProtonMail.

Once students get the hang of composing and sending emails, they must then learn how to send file attachments. At first, this can be confusing, but after one or two tries, they understand to “look for the paperclip”. 


Presentations using Microsoft PowerPoint or Google Slides will be helpful for school or work. Students should know how to organize information and graphics on slides. They can also add animation and transition to their slide presentations to make them more interesting for their audience.

When students present information, slides will be a useful way to guide their speaking while also giving visuals to support their information such as images, tables, and video. 

Drawing on the Computer

While being able to draw on the computer and create graphics would not be a skill I would consider necessary for all students, I do think it is a good way to get students introduced to the basics of graphic design. Many students enjoy using computers for artistic and creative projects. Learning about various drawing tools on the computer can be a source of enjoyment and an outlet for creative expression. To get started drawing on the computer, students can experiment with the basic shapes in Google Slides or PowerPoint.

It’s also a fun way for students interested in careers in graphic design to start learning how to draw with a mouse or a stylus and tablet. If students are already interested in drawing, they can scan drawings into more advanced programs such as Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop, taking their creativity to the next level. 

How to Use the Internet for Research

Many students are experts at using the Internet to find music, games, videos, and even to do some shopping. However, they often struggle when doing research. Why is that?

Usually, it is because the information that they enter into the search engines is too broad of a topic. They need to learn to get very specific and use “long-tail” search terms. 

For example, if students had to do a research project on the Solar System, they often go right to Google and type in “Solar System” and start sifting through results. Is that bad? Well, it may not be efficient. Using general search terms can waste a lot of time. Students would do better to put some thought into what they are looking for first. 

A more efficient search phrase would be “Planets in the Solar System.” A search like this would take them to the information they need right away. 

I have seen many students get overwhelmed sifting through websites only because the topic they are researching is not targeted enough. Being specific when using search engines saves time and energy. 

Introduction to Computer Programming

Needless to say, another great computer skill students should have is at least some introduction to programming. Many students really like coding. It is always awesome to see a student who never coded before find out that they actually enjoy it. 

Coding teaches students critical thinking, problem-solving, and planning ahead. It also teaches them some “grit” or patience to stick with a problem until it is solved. 

There are so many educational resources online (some for free) to teach students about coding. There are coding activities for students of any age, and if they want to learn more, there are tons of complete coding courses on YouTube that teach different coding languages for free. 

Here are some of the coding resources that I have used with students:

Tynker (Paid, but there are free tutorials) Good for Middle School and High School

CodeCombat (Free for many levels) Good for Middle School and High School

Hour of Code (Free) Good for All Grade Levels

CodeHS (Free Full Courses)  Good for Middle School and High School


If students of all grade levels work on building these 7 computer skills, they will have a wonderful foundation in computer literacy. They may even enjoy the journey a little too!