Latin. Spanish. French. German.
There is no doubt that foreign language is a valuable part of a well-rounded education. Most homeschooling parents include a foreign language as part of the child’s education regardless of their ability to speak it.
C. Python. C++. HTML. Java.
What about these languages? Have you considered any sort of computer programming languages to your core curriculum?
Let’s face it computer programming is going to be a basic literacy of the 21st century and beyond. We are growing more and more dependent on technology and these languages help us understand the logic and science that controls the technology.
It might feel scary or overwhelming to homeschooling parents because the many computer languages are unfamiliar to many in our generation.
But we are innovative homeschooling parents. We got this. We know we don’t have to speak the languages to find the resources, classes, and support for our children to learn the languages. Though, I suggest that parents learn right alongside their kids when they are able!
NOTE: There is no “one right way” to go about teaching computer programming and coding skills. Experts in the field debate various approaches (games to build logic vs. getting to the actual programming languages). It is my intention to share some ideas and resources so that you can pick through and find the ones best suited to your family.
So where do we start? What is out there?
1. Start With What You Know.
Do you have a personal or business blog? If so, you have possibly learned some basic HTML. Perhaps you fiddle around in the HTML viewing screen or you edit the CSS. You might be familiar with tags, such as <em> and <h3> that dictate the appearance of the post on your blog. Start with what you know and transfer that knowledge to your kids.
Help your kids create their own blogs, which are free through blogger and can remain private if you wish. Help them mess around with the code so they can immediately see how it changes the visual text. Teach them to close tags and how to find the problem when something doesn’t look quite right.
And if you haven’t messed around with basic HTML coding, then start your own free blog and feel free to play around. You can even use an HTML cheat sheet! (This one and more on my Teaching Tech Pinterest Board.)
2. Use Games to Teach Coding Concepts
There are plenty of games that teach basic foundational skills for coding. Let your kids try some out, especially your younger children! (The older kids might be ready for #3 – learning computer languages)
Bee-bot is perfect for 4-7-year-olds. Check out this free app for kids available on iTunes and watch your little ones go!
Lightbot Jr.(4-8) and Lightbot (9+). Both were free on the desktop site. There are also apps available for the skill building games.
The Foos is geared for kids ages 5-10 to help them program mini games with delightful characters.
SpaceChem is for your older set (ages 10+) and promises to challenge even high schoolers. It isn’t free, but might engage your older kids in a challenging and fun way to learn coding skills.
Hour of Code is available with games that use drag and drop blocks of code to complete a series of events. All of my kids have been able to participate! There are plenty of partnering sites listed where you can go to learn more.
Tynker is not a free website, but there is a lot offered here with a monthly subscription!
This board game is the result of a successful Kickstarter project. In order to play, kids will have to learn programming concepts such as looping, booleans, and conditional statements. This little gem was just added to my wishlist!
The following websites will teach your children to write code. These sites are geared toward 10 years old and up, though my almost 9-year-old was determined to work it out! You might need to help younger kids with the spelling and math required.
Kahn Academy is one of the first websites that comes to mind. Classes in Java Script and HTML are completely free.
My kids learned quite a bit of Java Script last year and enjoyed the challenges built into the lessons.
Code Combat is another free website for teachers and students. This site is recommended for kids aged 13 and up because this site involves typing actual lines of code in order to play the game. Younger children may need help or supervision to successfully play.
Codecademy is another free online site for students to learn programming languages. I think this is the one I am going to register for and complete their courses. Yes, even parents should learn alongside their kids. Go for it!
Feeling overwhelmed? I know. There is a lot out there and I have only scratched the surface. Just take this one step at a time. Pick one site or game and include it in your school routine. Give it some time and see if it is the right fit for you and your student. Remember that we don’t have to use all of the great stuff available.
If you are interested in finding more resources, you can check out my Pinterest Board: Teaching Tech where I am pinning a ton of Technology websites and resources.
Let’s give this innovative homeschooling a shot and include a different type of foreign language this year: Computer Programming.
Do you teach computer programming in your homeschool? What tools have you found effective?