A Comprehensive Homeschool Curriculum Includes Coding
As homeschoolers, our curriculum choices seem endless, activities plentiful, and our days just too short. Once we have the all-important core subjects covered, we have the luxury and the daunting task of rounding out our children’s days in ways that will satisfy their interests now and build a solid platform for their future. Millions of families annually choose coding as a way to enrich their children’s educational experience and give them life skills for what comes next.
Why are so many families seeking coding instruction for their kids and why are kids so excited about coding? More importantly, when your homeschooler expresses an interest in learning to code, why make the choice for coding instruction over other curriculum options?
Learning to Code is Fun
First and foremost, learning to code is fun!
“In a recent survey 54% of students said they enjoyed Computer Science and Engineering the most [among the subjects they were learning]. Only Art and Design and Performing Arts ranked higher.”
Coding offers the sheer joy that comes from making things, the fascination of solving puzzles and problems, the pleasure of making something useful, and the delight of learning. Learning to code offers kids the opportunity to experience all this and more. When learning to code, kids take an idea, map it out, build it, make it real, and make it work.
Coding Teaches Problem Solving Skills
All coding projects start with solving a problem. Whether it’s bringing an idea to life, improving how something works, or fixing something that’s broken, every coding project involves problem solving. As with many things in life, code doesn’t always work as expected on the first try. When that happens, it’s try, try again. But kids learning to code don’t simply try random fixes, one after the other, until something works. They learn a more elegant approach. Kids who code learn to use a problem-solving framework and implement the right fix.
In the process, they experience real word problem solving and develop skills that transfer to other challenges and situations.
Coding Teaches Logical Reasoning Skills
Coding classes for kids give them a mental workout. While learning the problem-solving framework provides kids with a process, learning logical thinking provides them with the critical reasoning skills needed to successfully use that framework.
Being able to approach problem solving logically enables kids who code to approach problem solving in a disciplined manner and create more effective solutions.
Having logical thinking skills encourages kids to think for themselves, to question assumptions, to develop their own theories, and to test their theories against known facts. These thinking skills are transferable to all situations.
Coding Teaches Attention to Detail
Coding projects are complex, requiring lots of individual steps. To be successful kids who code must adopt a detail-minded approach. Attention to detail, especially in the design phase where the essence of what’s required is defined. With attention to detail not only is it possible to make something work, but it can also lead to creating a thing of beauty.
Code doesn’t always work as expected on the first try. When this happens kids who code, must take a detail-minded approach to debugging their code. This type of approach supports a thorough application of the problem-solving framework. The ability to be thorough and accurate when working through tasks is a valuable skill in just about every endeavor. Coding classes for kids nurture their attention to detail.
Coding Teaches Abstract and Strategic Thinking
Through abstract thinking kids begin to understand more than just what is physically in front of them. With abstract thinking kids can conceive of new things and ideas. They can consider what is possible. The ability to think in the abstract and create is an important prerequisite for being able to learn to code. Much of how code is structured, and works is abstract and cannot be easily represented in a concrete or physical manner. To truly understand many coding projects, kids need to conceptualize the problem and its solution in the abstract.
Strategic thinking makes it possible to see and understand a whole idea, all its parts, and how they are connected. Strategic thinking also leads to understanding the vision and purpose behind the project.
Kids who learn to code learn how to think strategically. Every programming problem is looked at as a whole, as a collection of its various pieces, and in the context of the bigger picture. This approach can uncover leverage points for kids to exploit and it helps kids understand the effects of their coding project on the larger environment. It also helps them to connect with the vision and purpose of the project and experience being mission-driven.
Strategic thinking is valuable in every problem-solving situation, because with strategic thinking kids can see the bigger picture and anticipate the effect of their actions.
Coding Gives Kids a Way to Express Their Creativity
There is no one right answer when solving programming problems. Solving programming problems requires creativity.
Every programming problem has more than one solution. Every programmer can choose among different approaches to get to a solution. Because of this, kids who learn to code are called upon to be creative. They must conceptualize how their code will work and what the result will be. Often the solution brings together many smaller pieces to create a unique whole.
Using a creative approach opens kids’ minds to new possibilities and forces them to consider alternative approaches. Developing these skills gives kids the resilience needed to respond to the challenges presented by our ever-changing world.
Having Coding Skills Can Lead to a High-paying Job
More and more aspects of our everyday life are becoming automated. As this happens, the supply gap for people with coding skills continues to grow.
It’s estimated that as many as 1 million jobs will go unfilled over the next decade because workers won’t have the necessary coding skills.
“Roughly half of the jobs in the top income quartile — defined as those paying $57,000 or more per year — are in occupations that commonly require applicants to have at least some computer coding knowledge or skill, according to an analysis of 26 million U.S. online job postings…”
— Heatstreet, Half of the Highest-Paying Jobs in America Now Require You to Know How to Code, June 22, 2016
That doesn’t mean that everyone will be working as a coder. There will be plenty of well-paid jobs that don’t directly involve coding.
Coding Experience Helps College Applicants Stand Out
The college application process is highly competitive. In a sea of outstanding applicants how can anyone demonstrate the “exceptional talent” needed to get into the college of their choice? One way is to study coding and build a portfolio of coding projects. A coding portfolio provides the admissions officer tangible evidence of the applicant’s problem-solving skills, creativity, and work ethic.
Not sure if learning to code will be useful? According to the College Board, studying computer science is good preparation for 48 different college majors—not all of them have to do with science or technology. They include Business Administration, Geology, Linguistics, Studio Arts, and Zoology. Of course, studying code is good preparation for a technology degree as well, whether it’s in Database Management, Software Engineering, or Robotics.
For those kids who do go on to study computer science their prospects for finding a well-paid job at graduation are very good.
“A computer science major can earn 40% more than the college average. According to Brookings [Institute] a computer science major’s lifetime earnings are $1.67M versus $1.19M of a college graduate and $0.58M of a high school graduate.”
Summer Jobs & Internships Value Skills Learned While Coding
Kids who learn to code have in-demand skills when it comes to getting a summer job or internship. They know how to do more than stand at a cash register and take someone’s lunch order.
Even if the summer job or internship doesn’t directly involve coding, employers are looking for kids who have strong communications skills and can work as part of a team. Kids learn these and other skills while learning to code.
Coding Instruction Provides an Opportunity for Unique In-home Learning
As a homeschooling parent, you are sold on coding, but that skill is a little outside of your wheelhouse. Luckily, the range of coding education solutions is extensive.
Coding toys and games are a fun way to start. There are also apps, websites, camps, group classes, and personal tutors teaching coding for kids. Of course, it’s important to opt for the approach that works best for your child’s learning style.
If your child is ready to become truly proficient at coding, an online coding school can be an especially good choice. A small group, live, online method of instruction not only delivers a thorough understanding of coding, but can also help to introduce homeschooled students to different teaching styles, work deadlines, and goals, all while at home. It develops independence, confidence, and collaboration too. This virtual opportunity can help prepare homeschooled students for college and jobs as they successfully navigate coding and schooling in the digital world.