Teaching Kids to Code: You Can Do It

Hi, there. I’m back on my soapbox today to talk to you about how you can help your kids learn about computer science.

“But Brandy, I don’t know ANYTHING about computer science!”

Pish posh, I say! You are on the internet all day. You interact with so much technology. You know more than you think…and learning even more isn’t hard. You don’t have to learn to program nuclear power plants. The simple action of understanding how Facebook serves you ads is important. We need to be aware of the basics of how things work. Not to mention Code.org predicts there will be 1 million more jobs than computer science students in 2020 (it’s growing at twice the rate of any other field). Get some skills, yo!

Slide6_Computing_Jobs

This week has been officially Computer Science Education Week around the world. Schools worldwide are taking an hour to of class time to teach kids coding. It seems so little but let me tell you, it’s powerful what that 60 minutes can do.

I started doing this annual push 2 years ago (then I ranted last year). This year my Facebook feed is filled with smiling kids with their certificates and parents sending me messages that their child came home with new life goals. I’m not kidding. LIFE GOALS. A simple hour to open their minds to a new concept and they have changed what they want to be when they grow up. It’s that powerful.code_learn

For the past year, I have been volunteering once a week at Landon’s school teaching coding to different classes (I do second grade this year and I adore them). The school’s tech coordinator (Hi, Barb!) is such a huge advocate for coding for kids that she has been trying to teach as many kids as possible. Kids pop out of classrooms when they see us and yell “WHEN DO WE GET TO CODE?!?!” It’s like being a celebrity…or a drug dealer :). Over the last year we have learned even more about what kids can do. We have seen very shy kids open up. Academically deficient kids have excelled at coding when other concepts seem so hard for them. And even just yesterday in my last Hour of Code, students who sat beside each other all year finally started talking to one another…and not just talking but helping and encouraging each other. I’ve seen hyper classes calm down and all simultaneously focus on the task (any teacher can attest that is akin to some kind of witchcraft!). While my goal is just to introduce concepts of computer science and have kids realize the potential, their excelling is beyond my wildest dreams.

What You Can Do

Inspire Your Kids

Part of my training in teaching kids about STEM and programming over the years, a big piece is just giving them exposure to the possibilities of careers. In this video, some famous folks talk about how they got started from Tic Tac Toe to drawing shapes. We have all started out SO SIMPLE and learned from there. You can too.

In School

You might be saying “But Brandy my school doesn’t do this!!! WHY?!”

Having the right advocates in a school is the key. Talking with staff (tech and administrative) is a first step. Even your child’s teacher may be open to trying it. It’s an hour. Just sharing some literature around how to do that simple hour can make a huge step. Code.org also has canned emails you can send! You can even start as young as 3 or 4 with some simple apps to introduce concepts of logic and spatial recognition. Even teach kids to write out steps to making paper airplanes can build the fundamentals.

hour-of-code-logo

At Home

But say you can’t get through to your school. You can still do this at home. You AND your child can learn together. This can be a huge confidence boost to kids (trust…when Landon has to help me with my Spanish, that kid gets cocky). Go to Hour Of Code and just pick up. There are great videos and instructions to help them along. They rate them by age and are full of pop culture to get your kid pumped. Star Wars, Frozen, Minecraft, Angry Birds…all of em!

Star Wars Game

My Star Wars Game I Made (click to play!)

 

 

Then once you see how easy it is, offer to do it for a class. It’s not scary. I promise. These units are designed for self learning and kids catch on quick. Anyone can. Our CIO Keith Collins even found an hour to teach at a local high school this week. You can too.

Want more resources beyond your hour?

Recently, my old team at work put our a series of posts to help

Join Everyone (Well, 150 million) in the Hour of Code and CSEdWeek <- Great video to share with teachers to get them interested

Our Favorite #HourofCode Resources <- Great for parents and teachers to see the TONS of options. Apps, web apps, lessons…you name it!

Need Weekend Plans? Code with your Kids! <- How to teach (and learn!) to code as a parents

Computer Science is Everywhere: Coding in Your Art/Music/PE Classroom <- Computer science really is everywhere. Maybe your special teachers would be open!

A (CSEd)Week in the Life <- Computer scientist aren’t just nerds playing Warcraft and drinking Mtn. Dew. Jen shows a week in her life.

What an Hour of Code Looks Like 

For even MORE reading, I posted this on LinkedIn months ago about how I teach kids to find unicorns.

This coding infographic is a really big picture about programming languages.

Get Coding

Now you are stocked with info and stats (want a Powerpoint?…I even have that if you want…just ask). Get out there. Learn some skills. Teach some skills. Change a mindset. I know you can.

 

 

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