Teaching Computer Skills while Fostering Self-Expression

Teaching computer skills to children from refugee camps and disadvantaged areas for the past three semesters has been a truly great experience.  Before being hired as a teacher, I was a volunteer at TYO; however, I had no other previous teaching experience.  I have learned so much since then.

In the Core Program, we first administer a pre-assessment to determine the level of our students so that we can ensure that our classes teach relevant and useful skills. When I first met my first group of students, I could feel their passion and excitement for computers.   In administering my pre-assessment, I was excited to hear that my children liked the computer and the computer class.   From my pre-assessment I also learned that children can recognize the machine as a computer, but they never have had the chance to be introduced to each of its parts, to develop their skills on it, or to sit individually to explore it on their own.

After analyzing my pre-assessment results, I designed my lesson plan to meet my children’s needs. My lesson plan covered three main parts.  We first worked through the Microsoft Paint program to enhance their mouse controlling skills.  Then, we worked with Microsoft Word to enhance typing and reading skills.  Lastly, we used Microsoft Power Point to teach them to insert pictures and words, thus allowing them to be more expressive.

As with every class at TYO, my class has both hard and soft skill objectives.  In addition to enabling the children to use computers more effectively, my class aims to help them increase their self-expression abilities.   We use the computer in many different ways to promote this psychosocial objective.  For example, one activity that we completed involved Microsoft Paint.  I asked the children to draw their families using shapes such as circles, squares, boxes, and others.   Children were able to complete this task successfully and drew multiple human bodies.  After they completed the task, they felt happy and proud as they introduced me and their classmates to each member of their families.

This session, I have some of the same students from previous sessions.  As I watch them apply the skills they learned in my class, I feel very proud.  I have added more challenging activities to keep them engaged and learning.  I am constantly excited by the potential that each of my students holds and firmly believe in the power of helping them to develop these skills when they are young.


Alaa Aburrub is one of TYO’s Core Child Program teachers; she teaches 4-8 year olds.