Learn to Code with Your Kids #NWArkCares

Resources for learning to code with your kids

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Technology is going to be even more important and integrated into our kids’ lives as they get older than it already is.

Our generation is the last to remember not having a computer, an email address or a cell phone. We can’t even imagine what technology will be when they are our age, or what their kids will grow up with.

It’s really important for kids to grow up learning the language of technology. Just as they learn how to be smart around strangers in public places, they need to know the safe way to act online.

Just as they learn English, they need to learn code.Resources for learning to code with your kids

A lot of schools are starting to cover this (and Arkansas is actually great, having required all high schools in the state to offer computer programming classes), but learning to code with our kids is a great way to make sure they don’t get too far ahead of us in terms of technology.

Why Learn to Code?

Coding is important for our kids because so much of the economy is already based on technology and computers. Even fields we might not think of as being tech savvy require the use of computers, and understanding how computers and programs work and how to change them is going to be more and more important.

For people who get into it, coding is a lot of fun. It’s a means of exploration, problem solving and creative expression. It’s a different way to learn and can become a real passion to people who find empowerment in learning how to do it well.

Computers and code help people, they make work easier, give us different means of entertaining ourselves and connecting with each other, and they’re already everywhere and that’s only going to continue.

There’s already a shortage of coders, and there will be more and more jobs for skilled coders in the future. As these people already know:

As a writer, pretty much all my income comes because the Internet exists. I wish I knew more about coding, and now that the girl can read pretty well it might be the time for both of us to get started.

Resources for Learning to Code

The good news is there are a lot of free places to learn the basics of coding.

The bad news, coding is kind of intimidating and there is definitely a learning curve, but that’s true of knitting or driving a car or a lot of other things, so don’t let that stop you.

More good news is that a lot of free programs that get kids started on the basics make it more like a game, so it actually isn’t too scary for them. Like Code.org, where kids can build snowflakes with Elsa, build a Star Wars galaxy or make an Angry Birds maze. These “games” are the basis of the Hour of Code, which is an annual event in December.

I’m looking at CodeAcademy for learning a little coding myself. Its free programs allow you to learn HTML/CSS, Javascript, PHP, Python and Ruby on Rails.

CodeMonster is another good one for kids, which uses a monster giving prompts to teach the basics of Javascript. I played around with this one a little bit, and it’s kind of fun.

Khan Academy also has a great bunch of classes for older kids and adults on computer programming for everything from making webpages with HTML to making games in Javascript and running queries in SQL.

Though not all of these are free, there are lots more resources listed on this page at Mommy Poppins for people of any age to learn to code. And of course there are apps for that, too; Graphite has a good list with reviews.

Do you know how to code? Are you coding with your kids? What resources are you using? I’d love to hear your thoughts and tips!

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1 Comment

  1. I can certainly attest to the creative element in coding. I worked as a biologist/statistician and spent most of my career making spreadsheets and databases as well as interfaces for data entry and setting up routines for running data analysis. It was very satisfying work and while the programming languages used have changed over time, the “bones” of programming have not. Also, a shout out to Khan Academy who helped me learn matrix algebra and how to solve simultaneous equations…two skills I needed to run some really advanced statistical analyses.

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