“Geek Culture” is popular right now. There’s the Big Bang Theory on TV, SO many people referring to themselves as “geeks”, and the Star Wars and Star Trek franchises have been getting reboots in the movie theaters. One thing is certain, and that is that “geeks” rule the world. While, of course, I’m very passionate about STEM education (Science, Technology, Engineering, & Math), I agree that the schools could definitely do more to teach our kids these things.
The great thing, though, is that we don’t have to wait for the schools to get on board to get our kids passionate about technology and coding. There are some great tools out there to help us teach our kids more about using the computer and programming their own games and applications! When I was in high school, we didn’t have super cool programs like this to help teach us, yet we still figured out how to write programs on our graphing calculators. My TI-83 still has a program that when I run it, it displays a favorite quote of mine. It also has other programs I have written to make certain equations go faster.
So, there are definitely options out there these days to make it easy and fun for your kids to learn coding, starting at a young age too!
First check out Tynker. Mainly for grades 4th-8th. This course will definitely get your child the groundwork that is so important to learning how to code effectively.
Scratch is a project from MIT that can help kids create programs as early as 8 years old.
If you don’t want to download something to your computer, you can play around with Waterbear
Another option for a little bit older kids (around age 11) is Alice.
Create iOS games with Stencyl.
High School kids can really get into it from CodeHS
For older kids, or even for you, you can learn a lot from Khan Academy’s Computer Science area. (Khan Academy is good for SOOOOOOOO many subjects as well)
You can also find tutorials, lessons, and resources at Code.org.
Coding is an essential part of a child’s education. It can help with problem solving skills, and other life skills that have nothing to do with the computer. Take it from Bill Gates…
“Learning to write programs stretches your mind, and helps you think better, creates a way of thinking about things that I think is helpful in all domains.”
Even singer will.i.am agrees kids should get into coding – “Here we are, 2013, we ALL depend on technology to communicate, to bank, and none of us know how to read and write code. It’s important for these kids, right now, starting at 8 years old, to read and write code.”
See more quotes from famous folks about coding on code.org.
I encourage you to help your kids get on these programs, even if you don’t know much about technology yourself. You can help put them on a great path to furthering their education, and furthering their career, and you might end up learning some coding in the process!
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Sarah Kimmel is a digital parenting coach and family tech expert. She has spent the last 16 years of her career as a Microsoft Certified IT Manager supporting over 100 small businesses. During that time she started Family Tech LLC to help families understand and manage the technology in their home. She has regularly appeared as a family tech expert on KSL News, BYUtv and Studio 5, and has been invited all over the world from tech companies like Lenovo, Verizon, Microsoft, Dell, and Samsung. Find out more on her website SarahKimmel.com