We often get the question at homeschool shows across the country as to why we start kids at age 11. Or why can’t my kid start when he’s 8 yrs old as he’s really smart? Or my child has done Khan Academy or Scratch or Code.org or any of those free programs online why would we pay for homeschool coding curriculum? So in today’s post we will be addressing these two specific types of questions and bring in the important connection between homeschool math and homeschool coding (computer science programming). When I was searching up “math and coding” on google I was amazed at the few options and articles that even address this, which inspired me to write this post. From Stem blogs to even a site I found called http://www.mathandcoding.org/ started by librarians. So if you’ve visited any sites mentioned below I hope this information will help.
Lets begin by talking about the age as that is probably the easiest to cover.Why start at age 11?
The first issue which is pretty easy to solve is “typing” skills. When doing computer science as a homeschool curriculum it is probably the most critical skill needed when doing homeschool math or coding is keyboarding. This was usually taugh back in 7th and 8th grade when I went to school, but seems to be taught earlier now. And in homeschooling classrooms or at home learning it is being taught as early as 8 years old. In fact my daughter just started Simply Coding’s typing course and is learning currently the asdf and jkl; keys. She loves it! Being able to type 15 wpm (words per minute) or faster with minimal errors is ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY! Why? Because finger typing or very slow typing is going to cause frustration in your child’s coding (computer programming). This in turn will make it a bad experience. Of course if we were a dishonest company we would just take everyone in regardless of their computer skills to make money, but that’s not us. We seriously want every child to have a great experience. When being exposed to coding, like anything else, that first impression is the most important!
If you are not sure if your child has the typing skills necessary or perhaps he/she taught themselves how to type, it is good idea to have them go through the “homeschool typing course” first and just test it out. It’s included in the membership anyways. REMEMBER: It’s easier to fix bad habits when they’re younger and the same goes with typing for homeschoolers. You can also try out a fun test like NitroType.
So just like the first requirement of “typing” for your homeschool student, the good ole’ homeschool math is also necessary. Now I’m not talking huge math skills, but some basic concepts need to be understood and integrated into your homeschool curriculum if the child or student is to be successful in computer programming. We have found that age 11 the child usually knows the necessary math, however within the homeschoolers this can actually be a younger age. So if you feel that your child is fairly advanced, just hit us up on chat and we can ask a few questions to find out. That’s what the 10 day trial is for too. So your child will need to know addition, subtraction, a little bit about slopes and angles, and some arrays. There are great homeschool math courses out there, but as I saw my wife weed through all of them online, she settled on Singapore Math. So far it has been a great experience for my 11 yr old daughter. She says it very different from what she was learning in school, but likes it.
NOW…. where does it benefit to start paying for homeschool coding classes? We absolutely love the free programs out there like Khan Academy learning, Code.org, and MIT’s program Scratch coding for kids. I’m sure there’s more too out there, but these seem to be the main ones we are asked about over and over. So here’s a list that will help you homeschool moms out there decide whether it’s time to move on from the free homeschooling coding classes to the paid ones.
- Real Coding – Most of these mentioned above along with others are not exactly what you would call “real coding”. Meaning the student is not writing the actual code on their computer and uploading to create a website or game online. But just moving objects or written code that is just copy/paste into boxes and an image appears on the screen. Now once again this free coding material for kids is a GREAT PLACE TO START and can help with what we like to call, “computer logic”. This is just a fancy way of saying your child will understand basic concepts of how the coding works and can make something appear on the screen, but doesn’t learn how to actually write it. Also most free homeschool coding lessons will have their own libraries where they host the kids material or projects. Meaning you can’t take it with you or show others easily. If the child is ready to write real code and upload their fun gaming projects or websites to the web on a neutral website like GitHub and start building a nice portfolio of their own ideas, then it’s time to move on from free to paid.
- Support – Free homschooling programs come with no chat support, or very limited email or phone support. Why is this? Because there is not enough funding and non-profits cannot handle the millions of kids. It’s free to give kids exposure to how fun coding can be and that is its purpose.
- Boredom – Once a child has done so much of Scratch or Khan or any others, they usually get bored and end up doing the same things over and over. They aren’t learning anything new. Kids need to be stimulated. They’re sponges and want to soak up more info and homeschool learning. That’s why you homeschool right? The possiblities are endless for a child and doesn’t have to wait for the whole class. They are at their own pace. This is how a homeschool coding class should be too!
Here’s a couple of other good reads on how important math is in coding and even coding with math. haha!
Coding and Math: The Perfect Pair – https://www.mathnasium.com/coding-and-math-the-perfect-pair
How Coding Can Improve Math Performance – https://www.tynker.com/blog/articles/ideas-and-tips/programming-better-math-skills-fun/
Conclusions… Thanks for reading and I hope it helps. It’s been fun to provide coding homeschool classes, but actually now doing it with our own kids as they become of age is even cooler. I’ve got 3 daughters and they’re loving it. With COVID-19 and other unsure issues in the world, we both felt strongly about homeschooling our children this year. And so far I think it’s going well. If you have any comments or questions please reach out or hit us up on chat and we’ll gladly try to answer your questions/concerns.
Signing Off for the day.