Helpful coding and computer science resources for teens and their parents

Helpful coding and computer science resources for teens and their parents

Many parents know a little about coding and know that it involves writing instructions for computers.

However, parents may not know:

  • that the average annual starting salary for a programmer in the U.S. is $62,000, which is $8,000 higher than the annual median US household income;
  • that estimates suggest that by 2020 there will be up to one million programming jobs unfilled; and
  • how to get their kids interested and how to talk to them about possible careers in coding.

Today I came across the website TechPrep for the first time, though apparently it has been around for more than a year. TechPrep is “a Facebook-led initiative, supported by McKinsey & Company, to promote computer science and programming as a career option and to provide resources to get started.”

It shows parents and students what programming is, why it’s important, and what sort of jobs involve coding.

The people behind the site recognize the important role that parents play and that kids need support along the way, saying, “We believe through exposure and access, parents, guardians, and other influencers can enable their children and learners can gain the skills they need to have a technical career.”

It offers advice for parents based on the age of their kids, breaking them into groups by age: 8-11, 12-17, 18+, and then by experience level.

If your family is just getting started on coding, this is a good place to begin. If your kid is a great coder already, there is likely still some good info here for you, both online and listing of community events in the area. I found a couple clubs that I didn’t know existed, including a Girls Who Code (which is another great resource) club nearby.

Even if your child isn’t sure about or even opposed to a career that involves coding, it’s good practice in critical thinking, creativity, and logical reasoning.

You can read more about some of the life skills that come with coding in this article in Inc. magazine. It points out that parents can’t just plop kids in a coding class and expect them to be all set for the future, but it can arm them with a valuable way of looking at the ever-changing world.

There are a variety of coding resources online. A common complaint with some basic coding games are that they seem “too young” for older tweens and teens who have moved on from dancing fruit and such. Fair enough.

Here are some coding resources mentioned on TechPrep that will get older tweens and teens started coding in a manner that they are likely to deem age-appropriate:

Scratch – Scratch is both a programming language and an interactive online community out of MIT aimed at kids ages 8-16 but usable by a wider variety of ages. Users can create stories, games and animations. You can find info on their parent page here.

Codecademy – Users need to create an account with an email but then you can get started on this site that offers eight different coding languages. Even if your kid have experience, chances are there’s something new here for them. Common Sense Media recommends it for ages 13+, noting “There’s no content that would be iffy for younger kids, but the reading level and skills taught are challenging.”

Khan Academy – There are several different options under “computer programming” on Khan Academy. For those new to coding, check out the Intro to JavaScript: Drawing and Animation or Intro to HTML/CSS: Making webpages.

Hope that the helpful coding and computer science resources for teens and their parents will be useful in your house!

You May Also Like: 6 great coding websites and apps for tweens

Prior Post: Helping tweens and teens determine the best news sources

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Helpful coding and computer science resources for teens and their parents

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