I am computer illiterate. Well, maybe not as much as some people. But when it comes to things like knowing how technology works, I am almost completely hopeless. Much of the behind the scenes tech stuff is handled by my IT-savvy husband.
Truly, needing to ask my hub for advice when writing a few lines of coding is my not-so-secret shame, both as a geek and as a homeschool parent.
Just because I’m ignorant to technology doesn’t mean that I want my children to go without instruction in this crucial subject. If anything, having personally experienced set-backs in life due to my lack of computer knowledge is what drives me to ensure that my children are well versed in common software and basic programming and all that other stuff which is over my head.
Luckily, there is a wealth of resources out there for children to learn all about computers and how they work. And thankfully, I can learn right along side my children- it is one of the many benefits of homeschooling.
First and foremost though, if you’re going to be having children spend time online then you need to make sure that you’ve taken the necessary precautions to prevent them from stumbling across something unsavory or seeing anything they can’t un-see. Even if you are right next to them the whole time, you want to take these precautions. A good starting point might be my post on age appropriate internet searching. Beyond adjusting your search engine settings, you might also consider using a service such as Norton to block certain types of websites. We’ve experimented this past year with a few of these types of services to find the best one and in our experience, Norton did the job best. While the free version of Norton was absolute rubbish about tracking Google searches and website views as it claims to do, it does do the very basic, very crucial job of blocking the content you want blocked.
Now once you’ve got your computer all kid-safe and ready to go, where do you go?
KhanAcademy is known for their innovative and wildly successful math program, but did you know they’ve put together a pretty decent resource for learning early programming?
Code.org has many great free services from their An Hour to Code program to Java Script tutorials- they even have “unplugged” activities. No computer necessary for children to practice the basics.
Scratch is another free online resource. Created by MIT students and featuring adorable little cartoons, this one is pretty popular among the homeschoolers I’ve spoken to.
Code Academy is another free resource available online. I’ve poked around a bit on there and unlike the other free resources listed above, this one is 110% fool proof because they spoon feed the answers to you. I’d say this is the one you should use if you’re especially overwhelmed or confused by the other sites.
HTML Dog has many wonderful tutorials but unlike the first few sites I’ve linked above, this seems geared more towards the older children. Perhaps you’d find it useful if you have a tween/teen.
There are, of course, also a lot of books and games and toys even (LEGO Mindstorms, for example) that you have to pay to use, but I’m not going to tell you about all those right now because I haven’t personally used them. I could never in good conscious recommend something on here that I haven’t personally checked out for myself.
That said, if anyone has anything that they can personally recommend, I’d love to read about it in the comments section.
This post has been part of The ABCs of Raising Well-Rounded Geeklings series.