Bringing Computer Science to Your Homeschool


Bringing Computer Science to Your Homeschool

You probably already have the core subjects covered in your classroom.  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 that intimidating to teach either; after all, those topics were part of your own fundamental education.  But how are you going to handle homeschool Computer Science?  Today, this critical subject is more important than ever, yet many teachers and homeschool parents are not sure how to get started!

Imagine providing a subject in your classroom that your students can’t wait to study.  Tell your kids they can learn how to create their own computer games, apps, and websites 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!

Growing Up in the Digital Age

Kids in school today have never known life without the Internet, laptops, smart phones, and a dizzying array of computer games.  Your students may be more techno-savvy than you.  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 about what is going on underneath the covers?

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.

Kids in school today have never known life without the Internet, laptops, smart phones, and a dizzying array of computer games. But how much do they really understand about what is going on underneath the covers?

The Myth of Outsourcing

You might think that all computer jobs have been outsourced overseas.  That’s simply not true!  The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and researchers at code.org show 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! Data from code.org shows that we have over 500,000 open computing jobs, but only graduate 42,000 computer science students every year.  U.S. companies are forced to import workers to meet their local needs.  The average starting salary for a software engineer is over $70,000, while new graduates in other fields may earn an average of $40,000.

Keeping Up With Public Schools

U.S. States and the national government are finally catching up to the fact that our nation is not preparing enough computer scientists to meeting tomorrow’s demands.  New laws have been passed to promote computer science education in many areas.  Consider these examples:

New York City and Chicago Public Schools – New “Computer Science for All initiatives” to bring computer science education to all students

Texas, Arkansas and Florida – computer science courses can count as a foreign language credit and/or must be available to students in every high school

The list goes on!  Virginia, Idaho, South Carolina and other states have recently passed or are working on expanding computer science programs within their states, and some may even require a computer science credit for graduation.

The US Government is also promoting computer science at a national level.  On January 30, 2016 the White House “Computer Science for All” program was launched to secure $4 billion in funding for computer science teacher training, instructional materials, etc.  With all of these resources and momentum promoting computer science training in public schools, homeschool families should ask “How can we support computer science as well as (or better) than public education?

Your Most Popular Subject

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 from Homeschool Programming can guide your students step-by-step through the programming process with no parental expertise.  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.

The KidCoder and TeenCoder courses for 4th-12th grade students cover a variety of topics such as:

Chris Yust

About the author

Chris Yust has 17 years of experience as a software engineer and is co-author of the KidCoder and TeenCoder computer programming courses for 4th-12th grade students. Find out more about computer programming and website design for kids and teens at CompuScholar.com.

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