There is no turning back. Our world is now dependent on technology and it is only going to continue to grow and permeate more of our lives.
As parents, we have a choice to make – just be users and teach our children the basics or help our children to dig in and learn more about how the technology works.
Most statistics state that not enough people are being trained in technology, computer programming, robotics, engineering, etc… for the amount of current and projected job openings.
Because of that, many companies and organizations have created free and low cost resources to reach out to children (and their parents) to start teaching them the foundations of computer programming, computer science and engineering for future jobs… or just to have a little more working knowledge about the tech they use on a daily basis.
I have curated a list of 12 resources that are free or low cost that anyone can use to learn computer programming or use to teach their children computer programming. Our family is currently utilizing a couple of these resources and I hope that at least one of my children will be interested in developing Apps with me in the near future.
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.
2 – MIT App Inventor – MIT App Inventor is is what I am currently using to develop the simple apps I have created for HomeschoolingApps.com. Although I have a background in the tech industry and some computer programming experience, it was so easy to get started with MIT App Inventor, I have opted to use it for now. My 9 year old has done 7 or 8 of the tutorials so far and has found it to be a lot of fun. MIT App Inventor is free and contains a lot of tutorials to get up and running with it. We did, however, purchase a book to give us more training on it – Hello App Inventor!
3 – Scratch – Scratch, also created by MIT is another free tool useful to learn some foundational concepts of programming. It uses visual, logic blocks to create the programs. I just signed my daughter up for this and look forward to seeing how she likes it. As with many of these programs, if you do want more, in-depth training or a more structured curriculum, you can purchase a book. There are many, but – Learn to Program with Scratch: A Visual Introduction to Programming with Games, Art, Science and Math – looks like the one we would go with.
4 – Mozilla – Mozilla helps students get started coding real web pages and web based projects for free.
5 – CodeCademy.com – Free coding lessons in 11 different languages / platforms. I just discovered this one, but I am excited to try it out soon!
6 – Made With Code (Google) – This site by Google seems to be especially geared towards encouraging girls to start coding. There is a library of projects to create for free, starting with your own emoji. The site also includes stories of girls who code and their successes, resources and links to partner projects.
7 – Code.org / Code Studio – includes 20 hours of free courses with CodeStudio, links to hour of code projects to try, and links to additional sites and resources to learn coding.
8 – Tech Prep by Facebook – A free resource to find more resources – games, apps, books, sites, communities, programs and much more. The goal of the site is to give the parent a coaching guide and support to help the parent help the children.
9 – Dragon Box – I ran into a Math Teacher a few months ago and he told me about Dragon Box. Since a strong math foundation is essential for learning computer programming / computer science, I felt this belonged on the list. It is a game App for ages 4 – 8 and costs $7.99. This game ends up teaching these young children ALGEBRA. Yes, really, Algebra. After a couple of hours of play, they can solve algebraic equations! You can get the App on Amazon, Google Play or IOS.
10 – Robot Turtles – Another resource from the Math Teacher, Robot Turtles is a board game that “sneakily” teaches children the basics of programming while they play it. It looks super cute and I just added it to our Wish List on Amazon. The price on this is just shy of $20.
12 – Google Search on a language or technology (for example, SQL) gives lots of free tutorials – If I do a Google Search “Learn SQL,” I get a list of sites that teach the basics of SQL (structured query language used for database programming) for free. However, many make their money through advertising, so you get a small tutorial on one page, surrounded by ads, then have to go to another page for the next lesson. But I can vouch that sites like W3Schools.com is legit and does have some teaching to offer as I have used them as references in my own tech career.
Tell me about your own adventure to learn computer programming or teaching your children computer programming.