Tag Archives: learning

Introducing Kids to Coding

If you are on any social media platforms, you may have seen the hashtag #hourofcode being used this week. In honor of Computer Science Education Week, folks like Mark Zuckerberg of FB and others were encouraging children (and adults) to delve into coding, if only for an hour. Let’s face it, an hour doesn’t seem long especially if at the end of it you have completed something that you had never done before. As of this writing, according to their website, almost 15 million people have done some coding this week.

Many schools signed up to participate, but as a homeschooler, I wanted in on the action as well. As regular users of Khan Academy, I was pleasantly surprised when in my inbox there was a notice of their hour of code offerings. Wanting to make this happen during Computer Science Education Week meant that I had to readjust a day of school and Mother Nature helped with that by providing snow on Tuesday. So during our snowy Tuesday, the kiddos sat down to try their hand at coding. The iPad still proved a bit tricky with Khan Academy, so the kids did some pair programming until that was no longer fun and then one decided to just watch until they could do their own thing.


Yes, a snow day equals wild natural hair on the Princess. πŸ˜‰

Both of the kids completed the assignments and it was delightful to hear them problem solving out loud especially when one of them had a snowman with a floating head until he reconfigured the settings. This first taste of coding was well received by both kiddos so we signed up for more at Code. They have a 20 hour program with different levels of activities and yes adults can do it as well. Once that is completed, there are additional activities as well. Oh, have I mentioned that everything that I have shared is FREE! Yep, you read that right.

If you and your kids still want more coding experience, check out the following:

How and Why to Teach Your Kids to Code
Code Academy

And, if for some reason you think your little Prince or Princess is too young to learn coding, check out this article about a 12 year old app developer.

To complete our Computer Science Education Week, our local 4H club was hosting a fun day of learning at the Microsoft store. I must admit, I didn’t know Microsoft had a store. 😳. Along with others, the kids were able to learn all about Windows 8 and Office 2013 for wait for it…..FREE. Some of the parents also participated and after the learning took place, the kids were allowed to play on the Xbox units set up in the store. We all even left with Microsoft swag….woot woot!


All in all, we had a good week and the kids were exposed to technology in ways beyond their normal interactions. We will keep working on coding as both have expressed an interest and with the plethora of free resources available, there really are no plausible excuses. Since you are reading this it is obvious that you are somewhat tech savvy. If you have a tablet or a smart phone and you have kids, you have probably noticed that they interact it with it easier than you do. There are great articles out there about ‘digital natives’ that are worth reading. I share all of this to say, it is obvious that technology is here to stay and prevalent in our lives and the lives of our children. Instead of allowing our children to just be consumers of technology we need to empower them to be producers.


Invitation Only Education

As I drank my tea this morning and listened to the pitter patter of rain drops in my suburban home, I read the Washington Post on my iPad like I do everyday. My kids were upstairs preparing for their day of learning at home and my thoughts drifted with every article I read until I read this one that indicated that DC Public Schools were making summer school “by invitation only.” Yes, you should take a moment to go read it.

You see, I have been doing a lot of reading lately on learning and education. I am enjoying the thoughts of Sal Khan in The One World School House: Education Reimagined, also I have been revisiting Charlotte Mason’s techniques because I have felt The Lord stirring something inside of me on how I teach my own children. As a homeschooler, I have been feeling that we I was treating learning more like those that taught me instead of understanding how they are wired and determining what is really important – what they learn or that they are taught how to learn so that information will serve them for the rest of their lives. Then I watched 180 Days and I experienced such a range of emotions from complete and utter shock to anger. I admit, I have only given the education reform movement a cursory glance. I hear things but haven’t really delved into things….I watched Waiting for Superman and didn’t think about the kids in the movie as much as I felt it served as affirmation that my kids need to continue homeschooling. I know I am not the only one who reads things and have a NIMBY like attitude because it isn’t affecting my household (hence my idyllic scene setting at the beginning). However, that attitude isn’t in line with God’s will for our lives.

So, when I read the article that summer school was going from first come, first served and going to invitation only, I had to pick my jaw up off the table. Based on what is happening in education, DC’s focus on those kids that are on the bubble will serve to help those kids do better on standardized tests but what does it do for those that are too far behind? Someone has passed these children along knowing full well that they weren’t where they needed to be or that they needed a bit more but our schools are not designed to help the child that needs a bit more. Yet, we want to hold their current teachers accountable for teaching them even though they are now presented with a Herculean task that was not of their making. So, how will some kids spend the summer – in most cases falling further behind. Could someone please explain how this helps our society as a whole?

I could go on and on about my thoughts on these issues, but I won’t because it does little but help me let off steam. So, I am hoping to start a list of free resources that could help those like the grandma in the article help their children/grandchildren. I know I have shared Khan Academy with members of my own family who have children in the same age range and they didn’t know it existed. As a homeschooler, I know there are many others that have been able to utilize free resources in their education environs so let’s share with others for the betterment of the whole. Do you have a great free resource you can share?