In the Information Age we are living in, many of the jobs of the future, will go to people who have the skills to work with modern technology. All the digital gadgets we use in daily life are programmed and so even if our children don’t use these skills for their careers, it will never go to waste.
“Everybody in this country should learn how to program a computer because it teaches you how to think.”
— Steve Jobs, the Lost Interview
This page is the start of a list of resources and homeschool technology programmes to equip children with technological skills.
However, a word of caution is required: Technology can ‘suck’ us in and rob us of time together as a family, or time spent doing other healthy activities, so pc time needs to be carefully monitored, even if it is spent on learning technology.
Also read this article about Homeschooling and Technology and how to make sure our children don’t suffer the many negative effects of 21st century technology – computers, smart phones etc.
1. Electronics and Robotics
Is there a budding scientist in your home? This is a great series of online courses for kids who enjoy building things and want to learn more about circuits and all things electronic. You need to invest in a Snap Circuit Kit and a multimeter and then your child can follow the weekly tutorials and tests. A certificate is issued on completion of each part of the course.
“My son (13) has always had a keen interest in electronics (wires and batteries have always given him an adrenalin rush) and has now been studying electronics online with the guidance of Joel Phillps in the USA for the past 6 months.
He is a wonderful teacher and even though the lessons are sent via email and logging into the site, he has always responded to any problems we have had quite quickly and has also recently started chatting to my son on google+ (something like skype). He is now planning to have weekly conference class with his students.
The course is called the Edison Project and is 2 years (8 terms) long but you register per term. Each term takes 8 weeks and consists of 40 projects.” ~ Sharon Malan
Lego Education – Hands On Technologies – http://www.handsontech.co.za/HS%20Options.html
This site offers workbooks and kits to teach kids from grade R to grade 12 the basics of simple machines to complex robotics for high schoolers.
At Netram Technologies you can buy electronics and robotics equipment and kits online, including the Raspberry Pi, a credit-card sized computer, wieghing a mere 45g that plugs into a TV and a keyboard and which can be used for many of the things that your desktop PC does, like spreadsheets, word-processing and games. It also plays high-definition video. Do an image search to see it. Go to http://www.netram.co.za/
2. Computer Programming for Kids
There are a variety of websites offering free opportunities for kids to learn computer programming and coding. Below are some recommendations from other South African homeschooling families:
Sonlight Curriculum, which is a reputable company offering good quality products, have various options but they start at $63 -$81. If you want to save on shipping, wait till 30 September when the Sonlight South Africa group places a bulk order and shares the shipping costs. It works out really economical.
To read up about the options, go to http://www.sonlight.com/
Here is the actual website of the products that Sonlight are promoting – KidCoder and TeenCoder: http://www.
The following are apparently free:
This is a free programming language aimed at beginners or anyone who’s looking for a new way to have fun with their Windows computer. SiMPLE will run on Windows 95 and newer systems. There are 23 keywords used by Simple:
And Break Call Common Continue Display Do Else End Float (or Decimal) Float2 (or Decimal2) Goto If Int (or Whole) Int2 (or Whole2) Loop Or Return Set Step Task Text To
“It’s a social coding website for all ages where the kids can download a program that presents programming in a very simple and easy to understand way. With this program, you can create programs called “projects”. These projects vary from games to presentations and animations – written by other “scratchers”. You can also create your own. Sometimes the scratchers work together on a project and learn from each other. It’s a very easy and fun way to learn about coding. The Scratch forums are available to introduce yourself to the community, to ask for help with your projects and discuss coding etc. There are moderators that supervise all conversation.
There is a video overview of what can be done in Scratch on the site as well as some featured projects so you can see what kind of programs scratchers create.” ~ Laurika Faure
Code.org is a non-profit foundation dedicated to growing computer science education. As parents you will appreciate the information on the home page – quotes that explain the vital significance of IT skills in the world economy today!
www.homeandlearn.co.uk offers free step-by-step tutorials for a variety of coding languages. The courses are aimed at beginners, so you don’t need any experience to get started. Simply select the course that interests you, click and away you go!
Hackety is an open source application that teachers coders to create software. It was created to refute the notion that that learning modern software development is complicated, and difficult.
Find more reviews of computer programming options at http://www.squidoo.com/teach-computer-programming
3. Designing and Animation
www.sketchup.com is for free and excellent for designing. You can also follow many You tube clips on sketchup to learn different lessons in designing.
Many great architects are even using it as their main program and not AutoCad (which is very, very expensive) anymore . ~ Martie du Plessis of www.dynamislearning.co.za
“Blender is 3D creation for everyone, free to use for any purpose. Free software, great community, and 100% open.”
This is the testimony of a homeschool mother whose son is using his self-taught animation skills to earn a living for his family:
“My son (19) also took a ‘different’ path – he taught himself animation and computer graphics using Blender (a free download from http://www.blender.org/) He used to play around with it and would find tutorials on the internet when he got stuck on something. My fear of him being unable to earn a living in the ‘real’ world, of him needing to get a ‘proper’ qualification meant that I would nag, restrict computer time, etc. so that he would do some ‘real’ schoolwork, but in spite of me he prevailed. To cut a long story short, he doesn’t have a matric but he started doing freelance work on www.elance.com in April and now has a steady stream of work; one client has contracted him to work 100 hours per month. AND he has no student loan to pay off, is married to the most wonderful young woman and is able to live where he likes (as long as there’s an internet connection!).” ~ Helen Hill
“I am the mom and also a Blender fanatic… I personally think it is an excellent program and the 3d animation rendering one can do on it is really movie quality. The concentration involved to create the rendering is massive and this, in my opinion, can only be good for a child.” ~ Maryna M
4. Websites and Online Business
Let your high school student ‘graduate’ with an income generating ebusiness. Click here to read more about why we recommend this online Homeschool Business Course.
WordPress is a free and very versatile website building platform used by millions of people around the world (including this site.) A great learning tool.