I first learned about computer programming in 1978 when I was in third grade. Each Friday, we were allowed to go to the computer lab to learn a new programming language called BASIC. There was only one computer in the whole school so we had to go two at a time in 15 minute increments.
Our teacher taught us some simple commands and allowed us to try them out on the computer. My first program was something like this:
10 PRINT “Hello, my name is Fred Goodall”
Although, this program would not have gotten me into MIT, I was amazed by the possibilities. Watching the dot-matrix printer, print my name was fascinating.
Throughout elementary and middle school, I continued to practice my BASIC skills with a few IF…THENs, DO LOOPs, GO TOs, and REPEATs. This easy-to-learn programming language allowed me to develop custom software and video games on my Commodore 64 (that was the top-of-the line personal computer during my childhood).
But when I reached high school, I no longer had any access to formal computer training. In fact, my high school had no computers at all. We only had a typing lab with the latest typewriters.
I continued to learn more about BASIC programming through books, but without the help of an instructor, I was unable to decipher some of the more complicated programs. It wasn’t until I reached college that I was able to get some formal computer training (I learned FORTRAN and C+).
When I look back on my experience with computers, I realize that my elementary and middle schools were very progressive. They were teaching us cutting-edge skills before many people realized how ubiquitous computers would become.
Today, computers influence almost every aspect of our lives. However, few schools have made coding a requirement for students. Computer related careers will dominate our society and without the proper skills, many kids could be shut out of the job market. Even if they don’t decide to pursue a career in tech, kids should still learn basic HTML or Java to have an idea of how computers and the internet work. Coding should be just as much of the school curriculum as math, science, reading, and writing.
Of course, educational policy will not change overnight, but we must give our kids the skills they need to be successful and well-rounded. For our workforce to stay competitive in the decades to come, our children must learn to write code.
Organizations like Code.org are working to ensure all kids have the opportunity to learn computer science and to get kids excited about coding. In addition, Webucator has developed a wide selection technology courses and free coding classes for kids 13 and up.
To register for a course, students simply:
- Go to the Webucator Self-paced Courses page.
- Click the Order Now button next to the course.
- Enter CODE4KIDS for the Coupon Code and click Validate Coupon.
- Complete the registration. Students will need to verify that they are a student over the age of 13.
The courses are self-paced, so students will need to have some discipline to get through them, but they will learn a lot if they make the effort. Don’t let your child miss out on this great opportunity. Sign up today.