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The Best Way to Teach Coding in a Home School

Is your child interested in computer programming? If so, you’re in luck! There are lots of great resources available to help kids of all ages get started.

At Blackbird Code, we’ve spent thousands of hours exploring the most effective ways teachers can give students a great coding education with limited resources. We believe we’ve come up with a solution that will make it easier than ever before for you to teach your children computer programming. You don’t need any prior experience to teach with our system. That’s our guarantee to you, and if you can’t do it, we’ll happily refund any fees. This article will help you navigate the hurdles of deciding how to go about teaching your child computer programming.

Programming language doesn’t matter

Many people get analysis paralysis when deciding which programming language to start with. The good news is: it doesn’t matter. The skill of computer programming is separate from knowing the syntax and rules of a single programming language. Though there are differences in how languages work and what they’re used for, none are important to beginners.

When choosing a language, the most important criteria are:

  • Popularity - Is it easy to get help when you encounter problems? Is it easy to share your code with others?

  • Use cases - If you’re certain you want to teach a specific skill like web development, then you should choose a language that is used in that realm.

  • Trends - Choose a language gaining popularity rather than one fading away. You can use Stack Overflow’s Developer Surveys to see which languages others are using.

Even better, choose a programming language designed to be used for education. Programming languages are engineering tools, which is part of the reason they have a reputation for being difficult to learn. Blackbird Code has written a version of JavaScript that is optimized for education instead of engineering. This means you can run a program step by step to see what it’s doing, see error messages immediately when something is wrong, and those error messages are much easier to understand.

Graphical programming languages like Blockly are also great educational tools, but they have limitations. Learners who start with graphical tools quickly find they want more freedom to practice skills they're learning, so transitioning to text-based languages is an important milestone. Blackbird Code's version of JavaScript makes that transition easier than standard engineer-focused programming languages.

Let an app do the heavy lifting

Unless you have coding experience, the best way to teach your child is to leverage the power of an app. Books and videos can be helpful, but there is no substitute for an interactive app.

Here’s a list of the top apps for home schools. These apps focus on general computer programming skills (rather than specific languages or career skills) and high-quality user experience.

  1. Blackbird Code - The most friendly learning system available plus a fun animations & games curriculum. Teachers have the tools they need to learn with their students and monitor their progress.

  2. Khan Academy - Great free option with a number of coding courses in their catalog.

  3. Hour of Code - Great for younger students (k-8). This app uses a graphical (as opposed to text-based) programming language to teach kids the basics of coding.

Practice makes programmers

Make sure your child has plenty of opportunities to practice what they’ve learned. Going through a series of lessons is great, but everything they learn should also be reinforced by self-led projects. Encourage your child to use tools like Blackbird Code’s Workshop that allow them to work on something that is completely theirs while in a safe, educational environment.

Relate coding to the real world

The most exciting thing about coding is that you can can make anything you can imagine. Everything from video games to data science visualizations to things we haven’t even thought of yet. You can help motivate your child by relating what they’re learning to the real world. If your child likes video games, encourage them to think about how the game was made. If they’re obsessed with airplanes, ask them how they think autopilot software works.

Final words

Hopefully this has been helpful to you. Coding is a skill anyone can learn, despite its reputation as being difficult. All it takes is practice, tenacity, and high-quality educational tools.

Want to get started? We may be biased, but we think Blackbird Code is the best way to get your kids learning. Try it free for 7 days!


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