With the new national curriculum for computing in place, you might be wondering how you can support your child. Computing lessons now have much more emphasis on understanding how computers and the internet work and improving digital literacy, including learning how to code. So, what is coding and how can you get involved?
Coding (also known as programming) involves designing, writing, testing and maintaining computer programs. It helps children to think both logically and creatively and to solve problems. Plus, it builds transferable skills for their future careers – not just for those who decide to become software developers, but for any job that requires logical reasoning, teamwork and creativity.
There are lots of ways you can do your bit to support what your child is learning at school in the new computing curriculum, even if coding is completely out of your comfort zone. Here are our top tips.
- Find out a bit more about coding and its place in the classroom. The Guardian’s ‘Why every child should learn to code' and ‘Coding at school’ articles are a good place to start.
- Ask your child’s school what they are learning. The computing curriculum is new so it’s reasonable to expect that their school will be sharing information about what and how they are going to teach.
- Be enthusiastic about coding (even if you’re not totally convinced) and try to learn some of the vocabulary associated with it. Above all, never fall into the trap of dismissing it just because it isn’t something you will ever need – or want – to do yourself.
- Teach your child some of the principles of coding without even going near a computer. One simple offline activity is to ask them to write a series of commands that would enable someone who is blindfolded to get from one room in their house to another. It’s a great party game that teaches coding at the same time!
- See if there is a coding club near you – some are free and some charge for their courses. Code Club is a nationwide network of free volunteer-led after school coding clubs for children aged 9-11. Other coding clubs include CoderDojo and Fire Tech Camp.
- Make the most of apps and software like Kodu, Hopscotch and ScratchJr. If your child loves playing games, imagine how much they’ll enjoy designing and building their own game!
- Check out Raspberry Pi, Kano and LEGO Mindstorms, which let you build your own mini computer or robot.
- Watch some of the new computing shows on CBBC together, like Appsolute Genius and Technobabble.
As CEO and Founder of The Parent Zone, Vicki Shotbolt helps companies and organisations to create parent-friendly initiatives. She serves on the board of the UK Council for Child Internet Safety (UKCCIS) and is a member of Vodafone’s Digital Parenting editorial team.