If you don’t know me, my name is Ethan. I am Velda’s son, and I love to program. Really, my mom didn’t teach me how to program… she just helped me get interested, find tools, and figure out how to figure things out. Maybe these tips and tools will help you.
They say if you teach a kid more than one language when they’re little, it will always be easier for them to learn other languages. Same goes with programming: don’t let your kid settle into just Java, for example. Mix it up with some PHP, or even HTML and CSS. Mom even had us use different operating systems. Who runs Windows, OSX, and a few flavors of Linux all under one roof? We do.
Also, teach your kids how to figure things out for themselves. Mom pretty much did this by staying really busy herself. If we couldn’t figure something out, instead of solving it for us, she’d tell us how to look for solutions. I learned to google, to look at others’ code examples, and to read the manual.
Another thing about mom staying busy: she doesn’t have time to be pushy. Don’t push your kids in this or they’ll probably hate it. Just let them be, and help them when they ask for it.
Here’s a note from the editor (Mom/Velda) … In case you’re wondering WHY you should teach the kids to program, check this out
Before we even talked about languages, Mom had us play games that mimic programming. Like Light Robot — just try not to get addicted. Your kids will too.
Then you can ease in to something like Scratch. I’m pretty sure many of you have heard about Scratch, but for those who don’t know any thing about it, Scratch is a place where your kid can explore programing. They don’t even have to memorize phrases! It has a menu with natural phrases that are used as everything they need to make a good program. The first time on Scratch usually doesn’t take much guidance, so let them do their own thing for a while.
JUDO is a Java IDE for children that teaches you about the basics of real programming. From conditionals, to operations, and even graphics! The first step is for them to learn the basics of JUDO. This can be from looking at example programs, reading the tutorial, and from trying it out themselves. After they figure it out, ask them to make a small program that asks for your name, says hello, and does other fun things. For example, it may be changing the background if you said something specific, or drawing a shape if you didn’t say anything.
Last but not least, how about some real-world programming experience? Can kids do that? I’m just getting started myself. Open Source Software lets you download a program and modify it however you’d like. So we can download WordPress.org, for example, then play with it however we’d like. If I figure out something super handy, maybe I’ll publish it back.
So that should about cover it. I hope you learned what to teach your child. This is how I learned it, and your kid can too. Got any questions? Just ask.