The first two of the 16 Free Scratch Lessons are at the end of this post you. Before that we review why coding is a good investment in your child’s future and why Scratch is a good starting point in learning to code.
The world is rapidly transforming. In less than 50 years, computers have gone from room-sized machines with limited applications to pocket computers we carry with us and use on a daily basis.
But our kids don’t know this as today’s kids are digital natives. They’re surrounded by technology from the start and grow up comfortable using computers, tablets and cell phones from a very young age. This is indicative of the ubiquity of digital technology and the intelligence of our children. Today there’s scarcely a moment where they aren’t interfacing with some piece of networked, computer-controlled equipment.
To ensure that your child fits into this digital world, it’s critical that they learn how to think computationally. The best way to do this is to teach them to code. Coding computers is something that even young kids can begin to learn, and the process of writing code is a pure expression of computational thinking. Even if your child’s “dream” job is as a artist or doctor or lawyer, the domains of creative arts, law and medicine are increasingly digital. Strong computational thinking foundations are absolutely essential in any future occupation. And they are increasingly a pre-requisite for entry into the top universities and private schools.
Ok, you know all this. You have drunk the Kool-aid. But how to start?
For kids 9 years of age and older, the easiest way to begin is with a program that uses a Block interface. There are several available, but the most popular is Scratch, by MIT. It is free and available in many many languages. Scratch works by linking colored blocks of code to a function and rendering the result. Each block type usually illustrates a concept or some type of conditional logic that is used in ‘real world’ programming languages. https://scratch.mit.edu
Learning to code is generally a difficult task as it commands a high cognitive load for young students, as well as introducing a variety of new concepts that are often difficult for young learners to grasp. Block interfaces simplify this problem – picking a block from a selection is far easier than remembering a word. The block format relies on recognition instead of recall, which in turn facilitates learning at a faster rate.
We want to support you as a parent in your child’s learning journey and will be posting the instructional videos that we use for our Scratch courses here. You can use them to introduce Scratch to your student. It is a really fun parent-child project!
Here is the Course Overview and Lesson 1. I’ll post a new lesson every week. Please reach out if you have any questions.