At an event some days ago, I had a chance to talk to a group of parents about the opportunities that abound in the area of software development especially with the recent demand for such skills locally and how they could help their kids gain more exposure in this area. Their indifference about the subject and their response really got me thinking.
So, while reflecting and trying to get my head around the reason why some Nigerian parents seem not to be in on supporting and investing in their kid’s coding venture, I stumbled upon the biography of Mark Zuckerberg, the World famous founder of social networking site, Facebook.
A lot of us know about him. However, not many of us know about the influence of his parents in his journey to becoming a genius that is today celebrated all around the World.
From his biography on Wikipedia, “Zuckerberg began using computers and writing software in middle school.”
“His father taught him Atari BASIC Programming in the 1990s, and later hired software developer David Newman to tutor him privately.”
“In one program, since his father’s dental practice was operated from their home, he built a software program he called “ZuckNet” that allowed all the computers between the house and dental office to communicate with each other. It is considered a “primitive” version of AOL‘s Instant Messenger, which came out the following year.”
A close look at his biography reveals a critical but often overlooked role his Parents played in the process.
Can we say if Mark was a Nigerian he would have enjoyed such support from his family? I leave that for you to answer.
Teaching children to code is to teach them a programming language that runs on computer programs, applications, devices and games.
So what really is coding? Coding is the art of telling a computer how to perform complex tasks. Once you know how to code, you can create virtual worlds within the computer where the only limit on what is possible is your imagination. Learning to code means learning how to think creatively, reason systematically and work collaboratively. And these skills are applicable to any profession — as well as to expressing yourself in your personal life, too. (TED Blog). According to Year of Code, “code is the language we use to instruct computers.”
Call it “coding” or computer programming. There are several programming languages: Java, Python, C ++.
If you know a programming language it is much easier to learn the others. As more people and organizations continue to develop an interest in coding for a very good reason: children who know how to code now will have an important advantage in the labor market in the future.
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Learning to code is much more than learning a certain set of mechanical skills. It means learning a way of thinking that promotes analysis, problem solving and creativity. In the Eighties, cognitive science researchers began to identify signals indicating that learning to program computers made students “perform better in some aspects of problem-solving” and that the “effects of learning a language computing go beyond the content of that language. ” These results were known in 1984.
Most Stakeholders in the education sector agree that for Nigerian students to be at par with their counterparts globally, it is necessary to acquire new knowledge, such as coding, programming, et cetera to name just a few.
However, our educational systems have had a slower response to this cultural change.
And as a result, coding or computer programming is yet to take its pride of place in our institutions of learning.
As our National educational programs and policies evolve, there is an ever pressing need to ensure that every child have the same opportunity to learn to code. This need must be addressed at the National, State, Local and indeed family level.
At the State level, both teachers and students should be able to access resources that can help to facilitate the process.
From an early age, students should have opportunities to take computer classes, so that they are start getting used to certain programs and languages. The possibility that these classes are mandatory rather than optional should be considered.
The skills that lead to gainful and stable employment are skills that should be prioritized by all stakeholders. It’s about preparing students for life.
Students at all levels should participate in extracurricular and summer computing programs, not just the smartest or most talented. Some children may need more help at the beginning, especially if they have little confidence in their ability.
Every Parent needs to understand that they have an important role to play in arousing their kid’s interest in coding and computing.
These are some of the things that parents can do today:
Expose your child from a young age to computer coding. From the age of four, children can learn the fundamental concepts of programming in a fun and interactive context. Guide it in games or software that promote this learning.
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ACTIVELY BE A PART OF THE PROCESS
Look for community programs, summer camps dedicated to STEM, or computing at schools close by. If you are looking for YouTube tutorials on how to teach children to code, about ninety thousand videos will appear. Encourage your child to look at them or, better yet, watch them together. Learning new kinds of stuff with your kids is a form of bonding and this will also help to strengthen your relationship with your child.
BE A CHEERLEADER
Getting involved in your child’s learning is one of the simplest and most meaningful things you can do as a parent. It is not about having all the answers or knowing the content beforehand. It means being present in your child’s learning process.
The truth is learning to identify a problem and solving it can be a frustrating process. Encourage them through short-term mistakes; remind them how far they have come and how the learning process began. Guide your child to see what he learned from those “mistakes” that led him to a positive result. Recognize each of his successes. By doing this you are helping them develop critical thinking skills and establishing a strong foundation for future learning.
PARTNER WITH THEIR TEACHERS
It is important that you know what programs are available in your child’s School and what should be included in their learning process. After finding out what the programs look like, ensure that you talk with your child’s teacher or school administrators to add computer classes or, at least, provide resources and training opportunities, if the school does not have them. If they have them, encourage your child to register and take advantage of those classes. Attend PTA / PTO / school meetings and share your opinion.
TO REGISTER YOUR CHILD FOR CODE FUNKY 2019, CLICK HERE
Although, as everyone would agree, coding may not be for every child. However, every child should be given that opportunity to make that decision after trying.
As parents, we should support, encourage and invest in the interests of our children, and we must do so. There is a whole world of opportunities that awaits you in the field of Information Technology, and all children deserve to be able to participate and benefit from them.
It is an opportunity based on skills and knowledge. If there is a collaboration between parents, the government and educators, it can become an option for all equally.