How to Teach Excel to Children

By Sara Ipatenco

Teaching children Microsoft Excel is an effective way to help them create data sets and chart and analyze that data. Spreadsheets are a visual way to present data, and the Microsoft Excel program allows children to enter their information to create representations of their data that are meaningful to them. Learning how to create spreadsheets also enables students to complete more complex math tasks as they get older and prepares them to enter a increasingly technological workforce.

Make Lists

Before your child even opens the Microsoft Excel program, she will need a list of items to enter into the program. Teach your child how to make a list, such as the foods she wants to serve at her next birthday party. As your child creates her list, talk to her about the definition of data, which is what she's recording. Older children will be able to understand more complex definitions of data, such as that numbers and charts reveal values such as quantity.

Teach the Basics First

Show your child how to click on the Microsoft Excel icon to open the program. Point out the various features of the home screen so your child gets a concrete idea of how he'll enter his data. This home screen is called a worksheet. Teach your child that the rows are numbered and the columns are identified by letters. Where a row and column intersect is called a cell, and has an address that includes the letter and number, according to John Walkenbach, author of "Excel 2013 Bible." Also teach your child how to navigate the worksheet by showing him how to use the arrow keys to move among the cells. Demonstrate how to use the navigation bar at the top of the page, as well.

Enter Simple Data

Ask your child to use the arrow keys or the mouse to place her cursor in cell B1, and type a title for their spreadsheet, such as "Foods To Serve At My Birthday Party." Point out that what your child is typing into cell B1 will also appear in the rectangle directly above the first row of cells. This is helpful in making sure all words are spelled correctly. Ask your child to move her cursor to cell A2, which is where she'll input her first piece of data. For example, she might type cupcakes. Ask her to continue moving down column A, entering additional food items, such as potato chips, pretzels or apple slices. Have her move her cursor to cell B2 and ask her to enter the amount she needs for each food item. For example, next to cupcakes, she might enter 24.

Create the Chart

Demonstrate to your child how to use the mouse to click on cell A1, and then to hold the left mouse button down and move the mouse to highlight all of the cells in columns A and B. Have your child move the mouse up to the navigation bar at the top of the page and click on the Insert tab. From there, show your child how to click on "Insert Bar Chart." This will make a bar chart appear in the middle of the Excel worksheet your child is working on. Point out how the longer bars represent that he's planning to serve more of those foods than foods with shorter bars. Print the chart so your child has a visual reminder.

About the Author

Sara Ipatenco has taught writing, health and nutrition. She started writing in 2007 and has been published in Teaching Tolerance magazine. Ipatenco holds a bachelor's degree and a master's degree in education, both from the University of Denver.