By Chris Yust, Homeschool Programming, Inc.
You no doubt already have the basic subjects covered in your curriculum: Reading, writing, math, history, arts, science, geography, social studies … all of these things have an endless variety of resources available to you! None of them are likely to be that intimidating to teach either; after all, those topics were part of your own fundamental education! But how are you going to handle Computer Science? Today this critical subject is more important than ever, yet many teachers and homeschool parents are not sure how to get started!
Growing Up in the Digital Age
Kids in school today have never known life without the Internet, laptops, cell phones, and a dizzying array of computer games. Your students may be more techno-savvy than you are! Using email, word processing programs, web browsers, and social networking tools are probably second nature to your plugged-in children. But how much do they really understand what is going on underneath the exterior?
Who is writing all the software that your kids are using? Computer scientists or programmers are the ones driving these innovations! Computer programmers understand the tools, languages, and techniques needed to create new software. While this may sound like an arcane, difficult subject, in reality computer programming is very accessible to every student! Modern, easy-to-use programming languages and robust, free development environments can be used by anyone with the proper training.
Your Most Popular Subject
Imagine providing a subject in your homeschooling program that your students can’t wait to study! Tell your kids they can learn how to write their own computer programs and games and watch their eyes light up. You will not have to twist any arms to get those homework assignments finished! Instead of sitting around playing video games, your students could be learning the skills necessary to write their own!
Odds are that your own computer science experience is somewhat limited. You might never dream of trying to teach a programming language to your students based on an old FORTRAN course you suffered through 30 years ago. Fortunately, today, self-study courses can guide your students step-by-step through the programming process with minimal teacher involvement. You don’t need a fancy computer lab. If your students are already comfortable using a computer then they are ready to learn how to write their first program!
Some of the more widely-used computer languages in academic and professional settings today include Visual Basic, C#, Java, and C++. Skills your students build in these languages will not be thrown away as they move to the next level in school or business. A solid foundation in these languages can support a nearly limitless variety of applications from personal computers to robotics to mobile phones!
Find a Lifelong, Rewarding Passion With No Economic Downturn in Sight!
You might think that all computer jobs have been outsourced overseas. That’s simply not true! Research from ZDNet and the US Bureau of Labor Statistics shows there is a real shortage of trained professionals to fill the computing needs of local technology companies. Throughout the recent economic downturn, computer jobs have seen steady growth and salary increases.
Why are Computer Science graduates in such demand? Simple supply and demand! A survey by the Computer Science Teachers Association (CSTA) in 2009 showed the enrollment in computer classes was down significantly in high-schools across the country. The main reasons cited were: the fast pace of computer technology, lack of qualified teaching staff, and lack of curriculum resources. Another recent poll by the Computing Research Association found that enrollment in BSCS degree programs dropped 20% in 2007 and another 10% in 2009.
You can provide a quality Computer Science education for your homeschool student even if you’re not an expert yourself! All you need is a personal computer and an eager student. Self-study courses are available that teach students how to write their own computer programs and, yes, games! Why not make these available to your student and spark a passion for Computer Science today?
About the Author
Chris Yust from Homeschool Programming, Inc. is co-author of the KidCoder and TeenCoder computer programming curriculum for 4th-12th grade students. Find out more about computer programming for kids and teens at http://www.homeschoolprogramming.com! References for all quoted statistics can be found on the website Newsletters area.