Logging on and beyond

By Sway Grantham. Posted

Sway Grantham shares tips on how to teach children under seven to log on to school computers independently

Just like blowing their noses or tying shoelaces, logging on to school computers is a skill young primary school students need to learn. However, many children can find logging on independently quite challenging. Here are some top tips to help you get your youngest learners logging on to devices independently.

Simple usernames and passwords

Consider what is making it hard for the learners to log on. If it’s unrealistic usernames and passwords, then you should speak to the IT manager, or whoever controls your logins, and make these appropriate for the age and ability of the children. Their first name and a ‘1’ for Year 1, and a three-letter password, is more than enough for this age group. However, you should avoid them all having the same password, as we do not want to advocate this, even with our youngest learners. 

Check and build the foundations

There is a range of foundational skills that children need before they can log on independently, including turning on and shutting down computers safely, using a keyboard, and using a mouse to click in a box. Do your students have these skills already? If they don’t, it’s worth spending some time on developing them, so that logging on isn’t an overwhelming task. 

Teach it explicitly

If you plan a lesson in which the outcome of the lesson is that learners have logged on successfully, you can break down each step and take your time, without feeling the pressure of moving on to other lesson content. For those learners who still struggle, a visual prompt is often useful — you can hand them a chart showing each of the steps, to encourage them to continue independently.

Peer support

Can the children who have mastered the skill support those who haven’t, until they become more independent? I would often set table challenges for everyone on one table to get logged on, awarding school points for the fastest table. This encouraged the more capable children to support those who were struggling, reducing the time pull on the teacher, and also allowing the learners to learn from their peers. I also had a rule that the only person allowed to touch the computer was the person who was using it, so the helpers could tell them what to do, but not do it for them! 

Don’t let it be a barrier

If, after trying all of the above, you still have some learners who are struggling, they should still be able to access the computing curriculum with support. Just like if a child was unable to dress themselves for PE, you would eventually intervene, but you might set them a personal target to work on that specific skill until they got there. We don’t want to impact the children’s attitude to computing because they struggle with logging on.

Logging on is a skill that many adults take for granted, but it is a skill in itself. We need to give it the amount of time it deserves, so that we can get the majority of our learners to do it independently as soon as possible. This not only makes our lives easier, but it also broadens the learners’ opportunities for using technology across the curriculum in the future.


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