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There is a lot of hype around coding and STEM in education and to be perfectly honest, even as an educator I was confused. I knew that STEM was science, technology, engineering and mathematics but this coding thing was lost on me. And when I am lost, I am generally not that interested.
That is until I went along to a professional learning opportunity where it was explained to us that coding was simply what our grannies used to do in the old days. Now my granny was great but a coder she was not. Well apparently she was, as she was a great knitter. Following patterns to create a final product is essentially what coding is and this simple analogy had me hooked! So while I don’t recommend reaching for the knitting needles with your kids (it is torturous teaching kids to knit mind you), I am suggesting you explore a few websites, apps and resources that can get your kid coding in no time at all.
The first coding website I have ever used and a great place to begin is Turtle Academy. The main benefit of this website is that you can access it for free and there are support lessons that can assist. It is easy to navigate, sequential in what it teaches you to do, and builds upon your skills. I spent hours learning to move the turtle around with varying degrees of success much to the delight of my daughter.
Now I do not believe giving kids a coding experience should cost buckets of money, but if you have a bit of cash to splash then Sphero is amazing. It is incredibly versatile, lots of fun, and can cater for a range of ages and abilities. And like Turtle Academy there are lots and lots of resources to support you. I love seeing the awesome obstacle courses the kids create that they have to program their Sphero around!
If you want to connect with what your kids are doing at school, Kodable is a popular choice for schools teaching the coding curriculum. The reviews are fantastic from parents, educators, and kids. Once again, there are lots of resources to support you as you use this app or web based site.
There are literally thousands of coding opportunities out there so keeping it simple at the beginning while you and your child gain confidence is important. Coding is important because as we move deeper into the digital age, jobs in the future are going to require these fundamental skills. Being able to understand how to code enables our kids to begin to understand how the world around them works. And if you are new to coding, like I was, you will appreciate that coding requires persistence and patience, two important life skills that cannot be ignored. I encourage you to start simple.
Visit the sites I suggested and join the discussion in the comments below to let us know about your successes and challenges.