Is Your Child Interested in Code?

If you have a child that is interested in computer programming, the future could be looking very bright. According to the nonprofit, Code.org, in 2020 the United States will be short one million computer programmers in the workplace and computer programming jobs are already growing three times faster than the number of students entering the field. Interestingly, only 10% of schools in the country teach computer science classes and this is fewer than a decade ago. I found this fact to be very perplexing and I am not sure if it is due to a lack of interest or budget cutbacks. For years it seemed as if computer companies were donating equipment to schools in large quantities but as technology changes so quickly the ability to keep up to date might be too costly and daunting.

Last week Code.org sponsored a campaign, called an  “Hour of Code”, to promote the concept that every student should learn computer science if only to improve problem-solving skills. Maybe your child took advantage of these free sessions offered in many locations including Apple retail stores. The goal of the campaign was to reach those students with an interest or natural proclivity in this field of study. The week’s events were also highlighted on the website Computer Science Week Education at http://csedweek.org.

To encourage and assist your homeschooled child in this area of study I would explore the website of Code.org and see if they have any content or more upcoming instruction that your child could take advantage of to increase knowledge in this area. The organization, General Assembly, has a few meetings and training sessions in large cities in the United States but they also offer online courses and often these are free of charge. I have found this group backed by Silicon Valley companies to be very forward thinking and on the cutting edge of what employers wish to see in the future, so even if you read their offerings and posting it can be very informative. Your local community and junior colleges are great sources for classes in comptuer programming and do not forget the online course offerings or MOOCs as they are often referred to. These massive open online courses can be sponsored by well known colleges such as MIT and Harvard or private entities like Coursera and edX.org. As college education becomes more expensive and the MOOCs prove their value, there is a huge push to make these courses count as college credits also. Never forget to reach out to individuals or a company you know in this industry, as they are often willing to be mentors and could also offer internship programs for interested students.

I understand the choice Code.org made to reach out to the public and private school systems but I feel they are missing out on a huge opportunity by not also seeking a way to connect with homeschooling families, their talented children and parents. These children have time and ability to allocate for learning at a fast pace and the energy to pursue careers in this area with vigor given the opportunity. Maybe the time has come for the homeschooling community to reach out to these organizations and ask to be included.

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