Computer science, programming, and coding are popular subjects in schools today. And, there are many resources out there that make it easy for us as homeschool parents to teach computer skills to our homeschool students. Here’s what you need to know to get started with computer science and programming for homeschool.
I received compensation and a membership to the CodaKid Online Self-Study program in exchange for my honest review, but all the opinions in this post are my own.
Why Study Computer Programming?
Computer science and coding are growing in popularity with kids, and this is not an accident. Here are 10 reasons to consider adding computers to your homeschool lesson plans.
Critical Thinking Skills
When kids explore computer programming, they are practicing a wide variety of critical thinking skills. Coding teaches kids to think about an abstract problem and figure out a solution. The critical thinking skills that kids develop when they practice coding can be applied to many real-life situations.
Problem Solving Skills
Learning to code means that kids are learning how to solve problems. Kids use their skills as computer programmers to design code that will achieve the desired result, and this process teaches kids a lot about problem-solving.
Attention to Detail
For a program to work the way that a student wants it to, they will need to make sure that every detail in the code is correct. This is a fun way for kids to hone their ability to focus on the details in a large project. This level of attention to detail is an important life skill that will pay off in a future career.
Logic and Strategy
Whether kids are coding web pages or video games, a lot of strategy goes into computer programming. When kids learn computer science, they are learning how to create and execute a plan for what they want the computer to do. They need to think through the directions logically and create a step-by-step program to help the computer complete the tasks. The logic skills that kids develop when learning to code are useful in other subjects as well.
Working on a computer science project is a great way for kids to learn in a fun environment. Homeschool families can team up with other children that share their child’s interests to help their children practice teamwork and collaboration through computer programming, too.
Math and Science Skills
In addition to learning how to think critically, coding is a great way for kids to practice their math and science skills. The patterns of thinking necessary to be successful with coding mean that computer science students can apply what they are learning to their math and science studies as well.
Coding encourages kids to be creative in finding solutions to problems. This creativity is important for today’s students and helps them to be better problem solvers in their daily lives as well.
Perseverance and Confidence
Creating a computer program is a long process that requires perseverance from students. Often trial and error is necessary to make the program work the way it is intended to. But, kids who create their own websites or their own games often get a boost of confidence as they see what they can create with their programming skills.
Coding is a skill that many kids are excited and interested to learn. Kids who enjoy playing games like Minecraft or Roblox are often motivated to learn to code so that they can create their own computer games, and many kids enjoy sharing those with their friends. Computer science can be a fun subject for kids and one that motivates them to learn new skills.
Because coding is so popular, the ability to code can create some unique opportunities for your student. Many top universities are looking for students who can code. Scholarships and opportunities may be available to your student at the university level when they can code.
In addition, the shortage of graduates with coding skills and a surplus of jobs that require a background in computer science means that kids who can code will be able to compete for high-paying jobs in the market.
What Age Does My Child Need to be to Learn Computer Science?
The great news for parents is that children can learn to code even at a young age. A variety of resources are available to accommodate a wide range of students’ ages. In general, students can start learning to code as young as age five.
Before learning computer programming, younger children will need a basic understanding of how to use the device they will be working on. Since most computer programming works best on a computer instead of a phone, kids will need to understand how to use a mouse and keyboard.
When teaching computer science to a younger child or a student with no prior coding experience, it is best to start with a visual block-based system that will allow kids to drag and drop blocks to create their code. Older and more advanced level students can move to a text-based code editor.
What Do We Need to Get Started?
Kids can learn how to code using any device that has a web browser and an internet connection. However, when your child is ready to move beyond the basic concepts of coding, most programs will recommend using a computer rather than a phone or tablet.
What Programming Language Should My Child Learn?
There are many programming languages out there, and it can be a challenge to choose the right language for your child. Here are some options, and what you need to know about each.
Choose One Language
The best way to help your child be successful in learning computer programming is to choose just one language to focus on at the beginning. This will allow your child to become an expert in the language they have chosen, with the least amount of work and frustration in learning the language.
Focus on a language that aligns with your child’s interests and will allow them to create something they can be proud of quickly.
Java is also the language chosen by the College Board to be included in the Computer Science AP Exams. This means that Java is a great choice for high school students who would like to take an AP course and get AP credit for computer science.
Python is a popular language for computer science courses because it is the computer language that is the most similar to written English, which makes it the easiest to read and understand. This makes Python a good choice for teaching the foundational concepts of computer science. It is a versatile language, used in many different applications.
HTML or CSS
These languages are popular in computer science instruction because they are the best languages for website building. HTML is used for the coding of websites, while CSS helps customize the look and feel of a website. Kids who want to create their own websites may enjoy learning these languages.
Scratch is a block-based, visual language that is a perfect introduction to coding for younger kids. It helps kids learn the fundamental concepts of computer programming using a simple visual editor and drag and drop code blocks. Kids who are just learning the basics of computers can get started with scratch. The basics of computer science that they learn can be applied to other languages in the future.
How to Teach Coding for Kids
Fortunately for homeschool parents, there are a wide variety of online courses that will allow students to learn coding from home. These include both group classes and self-study courses for kids of all ages. A comprehensive coding class will allow you to learn to code alongside your child, with no previous coding experience required.
Coding Resources for Homeschool Families
Scratch is a free website where kids can create stories, games, and animations using the Scratch programming language. They can share their creations on the site and get feedback from other programmers as well. The site includes limited tutorials to teach kids how to use the language but mostly operates as a platform for kids to create and share their own interactive stories.
This site has a library of tutorial videos to help kids learn computer programming. Courses labeled with letters, from Computer Science A through F are designed for kids in the age range of 4-13 years. This site is famous for the Hour of Code, a worldwide initiative to encourage students to spend an hour learning computer programming. Most of the resources are introductory level, visual block code builders.
CodaKid Online Self-Study Coding Games for Kids
CodaKid Online Self-Study is a platform of self-paced online courses that teach kids how to code. It uses real programming languages like Scratch, Python, Java, and Lua and has a series of videos to help kids create Minecraft mods and Roblox games.
CodaKid also offers Private 1-on-1 Tutoring, which features private coding lessons on Zoom for kids who want to go deeper into their computer science curriculum.
Register for a 14 day free trial of CodaKid Online Self-Study program now!
5 Reasons We Love CodaKid
My son absolutely loves the CodaKid Online Self-Study program and begs to practice coding every day. I am so excited that he has fallen in love with coding, and I love that he is learning programming concepts while creating his own real code. Here are some of our favorite features of CodaKid.
Videos for Beginners
When my son first started using the CodaKid Online Self-Study program, he had no experience using a computer. He had spent plenty of time playing his favorite apps on a tablet, but he didn’t know how to use a keyboard or mouse.
The good news is that CodaKid starts from the beginning, with videos about how to use the computer that are perfect for younger kids. My son was able to learn how to use the mouse, and he even practiced typing using the typing game that’s included with our CodaKid subscription. He is now able to use both the keyboard and mouse independently, which are important skills for him to learn.
Learn more about CodaKid by checking out these CodaKid FAQs.
Step by Step Tutorials
I love the way that CodaKid’s tutorial videos walk through how to code step by step.
We decided to start with Scratch for my son. I spent some time looking at the scratch website, but I was intimidated by the limited tutorial videos that were offered. As a parent with no coding experience, I knew I needed something that would walk my son through exactly how to use the website and how to code.
The CodaKid Online Self-Study program provided exactly what I was looking for. The video walkthrough started with the basics like creating an account on scratch and opening 2 windows in the same monitor so we could watch the video and create code at the same time.
From there, the videos explained exactly how to code in Scratch. The videos were focused around creating specific projects. This helped motivate my son to keep learning, because he was working towards a goal that he wanted to create.
The learning in the CodaKid Online Self-Study program occurs through a series of walkthrough videos that kids can watch while they code. Kids are encouraged to watch the video while they work, watching a tutorial and then pausing the video to complete each step on their own.
In each video, live teachers explain how to complete the steps, while showing exactly what this should look like on the screen. This format is really easy to follow and makes a difficult concept like coding much easier for kids.
My son really enjoys watching the videos. The live teaching is engaging and easy for him to follow, and he likes to complete the steps along with the video.
I also love that he can re-watch a section of the video as many times as he needs to if he gets confused or isn’t sure what to do for a particular step.
Fun Project Ideas
Sometimes it can be challenging to come up with ideas for what to code, and CodaKid is a great resource for project ideas.
My son loves challenges and he was so excited by the different courses that were offered. Fun project topics like “Catch the Cat” and “Dino Defense” motivate him to come back and keep learning more.
As a parent, I love how the skills my son learns in previous lessons build sequentially upon each other. Completing these projects is giving my child a thorough computer science education as he learns the basics of coding.
Check out the CodaKid Courses that are available to see the projects your child can create with CodaKid.
Professional Languages and Tools
I love that even though my son is in his first year of learning how to code, he is already learning a real programming language and concepts that will help him understand coding in the future as well. I think that the skills he is learning will be easily transferable to web design and software development projects in the future as his coding skills improve.
Try CodaKid for Yourself
We love CodaKid and would highly recommend these courses for anyone looking to add homeschool programming classes to your homeschool. You can get instant access to CodaKid to try it for yourself with their free trial.
Register for a 14 day free trial of CodaKid Online Self-Study program now!