If your children are currently being homeschooled – or you’re looking into homeschooling them – then you’re no doubt always on the lookout for subjects that will be worthwhile. After all, even at home having a curriculum plan so you can cover important subjects and instill life skills is important.
While it’s easy enough to cover typical subjects like math, English, and science, other subjects are a bit tougher to decide on. However, one you might overlook is computer science. Not only is it an important skill for kids today to master, but the job market’s demand for programmers and coders is skyrocketing.
In this article, we’ll first go in-to-depth about why you should add computer programming to your homeschooling curriculum. Then, we’ll show you how you can start getting your kids involved regardless of their age group!
Let’s get learning!
Table of contents
What is computer programming?
Computer programming, or coding, is the process of writing instructions specifically for devices and systems. Running a computer program translates the instructions into a language that computers are able to understand – and then execute to perform a specific functionality. Understandably, the more instructions you include, the more complicated tasks the computer is able to do!
In order to program, though, users must learn a programming language to communicate with the computer. There are thousands of coding languages in use, including Python, Java, and C-based languages. Regardless of language, though, they’re able to power everything from video games to web browsers.
Although this sounds complicated, kids from an early age are able to learn the basic skills of coding and the importance of algorithms (i.e. the instructions), making it suitable as a homeschooling subject.
Is programming a suitable subject for homeschooling?
If your child has a passion for playing video games, art & design, or coding, enrolling them in a programming course is a fantastic idea. The video game market is set to reach $372 billion by the end of 2023, and the demand for coders is also expected to increase – with an expected 32,090 job openings in the video game design field by 2029.
Because of this, programming skills are invaluable and could lead to a profitable career in the future.
Having said that, coding can be tricky – especially without structured learning from professional teachers. Luckily, there are a variety of ways to learn programming skills from home, with available courses designed for young learners, such as the homeschooling collection provided by Zenva.
With plenty of structured courses taught by professional tech teachers, programming is a suitable subject for just about any homeschooling parent who wants to expand the subjects for their children.
What are the benefits of teaching children coding?
As we’ve already said, the programming profession is a profitable endeavor, and teaching your child how to code can get them onto the ladder of career success. However, learning to code shouldn’t just be about future prospects.
Children that learn to code can benefit from the following:
- Coding teaches creativity. Similarly to cooking or drawing, coding teaches children to craft a finished product from nothing and to inject their personality and creativity into their work. It allows children to enjoy the creative process through experimentation and questioning.
- Learning to program makes math engaging. Math and coding are sometimes one and the same, and teaching kids how to code will simultaneously teach them complicated math concepts with practical applications. With programming skills, learning math may become easier for your child later down the line.
- Develop problem-solving skills for the future. By learning to code, children can gain a new perspective on problem-solving, since coding isn’t an easy skill to develop and programs always involve some problem-solving to make. Kids will no doubt have to learn to adapt and overcome issues on their way. It also encourages them to work on a problem until it’s solved, which is a transferable skill for other school subjects.
- Coding promotes practical learning. Teaching is made easier through a hands-on and practical approach. Learning to code involves physically programming apps and games, making it a much more engaging practice for children interested in learning since it produces undeniable, tangible proof.
What programming concepts should your child learn?
While coding might seem like a massively complicated skill, it’s actually very approachable and appropriate for children of all ages. By teaching programming to your child at a young age, you’ll set them up for future success in the industry.
Here are six concepts appropriate for children as young as five years old – all of which you can wrap up in courses oriented on teaching the fundamentals of making algorithms.
Sequences in coding refer to the ordering of tasks, i,e. When the programmer tells the computer which tasks to perform and when. This is fairly easy for children to understand since it only requires them to order tasks within the right order. You can even begin this concept outside coding – such as asking kids to describe how they make a sandwich.
Variables are simply how we store bits of data in programs. This data can be manipulated, read, or rewritten throughout the program as we use it. For example, we can use variables to store player scores, names, and so forth. In this way, our program only needs to know the variable to perform certain functions – not the exact data that variable holds.
Arithmetic operators are how we manipulate our data mathematically and generally include four basic functions: addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. This is a key area where kids get to learn math at the same time they program, since these core concepts underly almost every program.
Conditionals & Branching
Conditionals, or conditional statements, are a type of code that allows a computer program to execute certain sections of code depending on whether a condition is true or false. For example, in the popular game Minecraft, the game is coded with conditionals to set whether the world is on daytime or nighttime.
Loops are a very common coding concept. A loop will continually perform a command only while a particular condition is true. The command is discontinued once the condition ends. An example of a condition might be whether a counter has reached a designated number or an item of data is changed.
Children that are skilled at speaking or reading will have no issues with learning syntax. This coding method refers to a collection of rules that a programmer must follow when writing code. Every coding language has a different syntax.
How to make teaching coding fun for your child
We understand that coding can appear complicated, especially to a child who is first learning the skill. Rather than focusing on complex coding methods and sitting your student down in front of a wall of information, you should incorporate project-based learning into their curriculum.
For example, if your child is a fan of Minecraft, you might want to use gameplay as a teaching tool. Minecraft is programmed using Java, which is a common and easy-to-learn programming language that beginners can easily learn.
Here are some other ways to make learning code fun:
- Printable workbooks and worksheets detailing the coding behind your child’s favorite games (for example Minecraft, Roblox, or Fortnite). This is a fantastic way to keep them engaged and interested.
- Incorporate practical learning into their course content such as programming mini-games or drawing game characters. Zenva, for example, focuses heavily on practical skills, teaching children how to make their own animations and bots.
- Unlock their imagination with video game storyboards, character design, and plot points. This shows children the fun side of coding and how it can be used for more than making boring programs like Excel.
Ready to teach your child coding skills?
If you’re ready to start teaching your child programming skills, then you’ll need to start by finding the right resources that are the best fit for their individual needs. There are plenty of learning tools to choose from, but we’ve compiled a good list to get you going that can be used with a variety of different age groups.
Zenva is an online learning platform specializing in teaching programming skills.
Zenva aims to make learning code simple and accessible for all with affordable courses available to individuals of all ages and abilities. The overall aim is to give students the skills they need to gain real industry knowledge by building games, apps, websites, and much more.
The learning platform offers over 250 courses, with several courses designed specifically with education in mind. The courses are suitable for children from grades 3 to 12, and cater to children with a variety of skill sets. However, the courses also work for adult self-learners too looking to expand into new skills.
Alongside the video courses, Zenva also offers a ton of other supplemental features to help make learning stick, including live coding exercises, quizzes, access to course mentors, and text-based summaries of lessons! Did we mention these courses are also entirely self-paced?
Some great homeschooling options on Zenva include:
- For grades 3 to 6. For younger students, Zenva offers courses based on the basics of how computers work, including the simple idea of what hardware and software is.
- For grades 6 to 8. After children understand flat-out basics of computers themselves, they’ll get the chance to learn some beginner Scratch projects for animation and mini-games. Scratch is one of the easiest programming languages to get to grips with, as it uses visual elements like the drag-and-drop function.
- For grades 7 to 12. Once students have learned the basics of Scratch, they will move on to learning Python, which, while slightly more complicated, is one of the most popular programming languages. As with other Zenva courses, learners are encouraged to build their own software in Python, such as a medical diagnosis bot, mini-games, and more!
- For grades 9 +. Designed for older students, Zenva offers courses on game development with Unity – a very popular engine used in the actual video game industry for games such as Genshin Impact. These take a very practical approach, featuring such projects as a mini farm simulator!
Code.org is an education and innovation nonprofit platform, with the vision of making learning computer science more accessible for children of all ages. Code.org not only expands access to computer science in schools, but teaches children from the comfort of their homes with easily accessible and free courses.
The platform offers various free courses for children from grades 5 to 12 and beyond. These include:
- Grades 5 +. For younger learners, Code.org offers ‘Computer Science Fundamentals Express Courses’ for children starting out on their own and looking to learn the basics of computer science with easy-to-understand learning tools like a drag-and-drop box.
Khan Academy is another nonprofit organization with free online courses for students primarily in the US, teaching subjects such as math, science, computing, economics, and reading and language arts.
This said, Khan Academy generally skews a bit older, so we recommend this one more specifically for parents with older students in need of a coding education.
If you’re looking to directly teach your child programming skills at home, you should consider Google Classroom – an excellent resource for educators to track, manage, and access learning resources.
Google Classroom has various training courses and guides for educators which can be applied to teaching coding skills to your child, including how Google Tools can be used for in-person learning.
If you decide to curate your own course for your child, YouTube has thousands of easy-to-follow videos on coding for all ages.
Of course, this is the more difficult path – but it’d be negligent for us to not mention this option for parents who want a little more control!
Programming and homeschooling wrap up
At this point, we hope we’ve made it clear why incorporating programming into your homeschooling plan is important. Programming can teach a plethora of skills that will help children both in the present day and long into the technological future. It’s also a subject that is considered a lot more engaging – given it can result in tangible projects children can be proud to show off.
Plus, with amazing resources like Zenva around to help do a lot of the teaching for you, you don’t have to be an expert yourself.
All in all, don’t miss out on this amazing topic and give your kids a chance to learn this modern-day marvel!
FREE COURSES FINAL DAYS: Unlock coding courses in Unity, Unreal, Python, Godot and more.
FINAL DAYS: Unlock coding courses in Unity, Unreal, Python, Godot and more.