WHS 36 – Teach Your Kids to Code – The Wired Homeschool

Computers are becoming more and more pervasive in our lives.  Kids learn to use them at a very young age these days and for some their interest goes beyond playing Angry Birds or using Facebook.

If you have a kid interested in learning to write programs, where do you start?  What resources are there available for the homeschooling parent?  Fortunately, the same tools available to public schools are available to home educators.

Here’s a brief list of some of the more popular offerings:

  • Scratch – for ages 8 and up. Children create interactive stories, animations, games, music, and art while learning mathematical and computational ideas, critical thinking, systematic reasoning, and how to work collaboratively. Cost: free.
  • LEGO Mindstorms – for ages 10 and up. With LEGO Mindstorms children learn to build programs that control robots that can perform a variety of tasks. Cost: $279.99
  • Alice – for ages 6 and up. Teaches object-oriented programming in an interactive, 3D environment. Children can create stories, interactive games, or videos to share online. Cost: free.
  • Phrogram – for ages 10 and up. Built on .Net, this programming languages gives kids a real taste for writing code using plain language. Cost: $34.95 and up.
  • Stanford School of Engineering – for ages 13 and up. Stanford offers a number of free, online courses that self-motivated students can use to learn actual programming languages. Cost: free.

Mark Markuson asks,

I have 5 kids and we are online but I want to protect them. Do you like Windows Live family safety? Are their any other free online protection suites that are Christian or Family Friendly?

For filtering I recommend using OpenDNS Family Shield. It’s free and when used in conjunction with your router protects all the devices connecting to the Internet.

If you’re looking for accountability software check out Covenant Eyes.


If you’d like to leave feedback about this or any other episode you can call and leave a voice mail by calling 518-290-0228, send email to feedback [at] thewiredhomeschool [dot] com, or leave a comment on the blog. Follow me on Twitter: @jwilkers.  Also follow the podcast on Twitter: @wiredhs.  Join the Facebook page over at http://facebook.com/wiredhs Music:Poofy Reel by Kevin Macleod.  The Wired Homeschool is a proud member of the Tech Podcast Network.  For more family-friendly tech podcasts visit techpodcasts.com

  • Lori

    I wanted to share this resource with your readers as well: http://www.dickbaldwin.com/tocHomeSchool.htm  Looks like a nice resource.

  • Peter

    Manning offers a book called “Hello, World” that can be helpful for learning to program. The language used is Python, but they teach all sorts of concepts while working kids and parents through creating games.  The hardest part about this book is going through it in order. The games towards the back of the book are more interesting, but they are built on top of the knowledge accumulated through the book.

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