Hour of Code in SF: Parental Support in Tech for Children

 

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If you are able to read the above code, then you probably had a pager several decades ago, lol.  I recall using the above kind of coding in three different manners:

1.  When pagers were being used.

2. In grade school when a math problem needed to be solved and decoded.

3.  When writing a secret note to a friend.

SFUSD Hour of Code

These days in San Francisco, students are learning a different type of coding.  In an effort to make SFUSD more tech proficient they dedicate an hour of code to expose students to coding.  While the concept is good, I think students need to be exposed to more than one hour of coding in the entire school year in order for students to be more tech proficient.

The students, I have to admit, greatly enjoy the hour of code and they learn very quickly.  When they are learning, it’s almost 2nd nature to them and need very minimal assistance.  Coding can be a subject in and of itself that would be good to integrate in the curriculum and expose students to this language, and inform them about what they can do with these skills in the tech world.  Students see coding as fun and in some ways like a video game.

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4th Grade Student at a Peace Table (as a reward)  Practicing Her Coding Skills!

Hour of Code in SF APPLE Store

The APPLE store in SF also celebrated the hour of code and I was at APPLE on that day!  They had different levels:

  1. The first, was for people 6-11
  2.  The second was for people 12 and up

There was a business man in his mid to late 50s that was inquiring about the coding workshops; he was surprised that coding started so young!  He stated, ” I guess I would need to be in the beginners section with the 6-11 year olds.”  I have to admit, I had read that children were learning to code at 5 and 6 years old, but it was something quite different to see it happening in front of my eyes.  Apple was selling some sort of gadget for coding that was made for kids!

Parental Choices to Consider When Permitting Tech Use:

I have heard coding referred to as the language of the future, and if I had young children, I would want them to learn how to speak it.  However, I also think parents of today are faced with choices that other parents did not have to face.  At what age does one expose their child to tech?  How long do they get to use anything tech related?  What activities do they get to do with technology?  Where is technology permitted to be used, and where is it not permitted?

Let’s focus for a moment on the latter question.  Since tech exposure is relatively still new, many adults are not always cognizant of when the more appropriate times to use tech would be -even for themselves!  Let’s take the dinner table as an example.  The norm of gathering together as a family to say grace and share a meal together is also the space people get to catch up on the lives of those around them, make eye contact, and practice ones manners by communicating, “Please, pass the plate of asparagus.”  Making eye contact with the person that is communicating with you is important to demonstrate ones attention and attentiveness to the person that is speaking -it shows you care about the speaker.

Communication and eye contact at the dinner table can be disturbed when technology is allowed.  Instead of people looking at each other, there are individuals looking at a screen, which can impede a more natural manner of speaking to one another.  When tech is present at the table there still may be communication, however, it will quite often be centered around a picture or post someone placed and people staring into the technology.  At times, this is fine, but not when it is a norm.  It is important to have times and spaces to be together as a family without tech involved.  Life with tech is helpful, yet life without it adds a value that is more often felt than verbalized.  It is important to know how to maintain healthy social interactions by practicing when it is best to put tech aside to be present with one’s loved ones.

Having acknowledged that tech has it’s more appropriate places and uses, it is important to note that we are living in a world that embraces tech, and attempts to use it to make life easier and more advanced.  There are pros and cons to tech exposure for children.  I know some parents will not allow their child under 8 any type of tech exposure, and I know parents that allow their child to get their hands on anything tech related.  Each parent will need to think of the best interest for their child and family norms.

Technology Usage is a Plan of Growth in SFUSD Schools:

hour-of-code-4

In regards to school and how technology is being used, I would recommend that parents at minimum start having their child learn to type by the time they are in 3rd and 4th grades.  I realize that at this age some students are still developing a better grasp of their fine motor skills in their hands that permit them to write legibly, however, with the new tech goals, the ideal would be that students know how or at minimum begin learning to type in the above grades, so they can proceed to learn how to use technology with their academics such as Google Slides or Powerpoint.  This will allow them to present the information in a verbal manner as they use the power of technology to support their academic learning.

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4th Grade Students Demonstrating their Digital Certificate of Completion in Coding.

It has been my experience that children are quick learners.  They just need to have access to the tech resources and practice to flourish in their tech skills. Many students in SF do not have this access in their home environments, which limit their progress in even the basic skills such as typing.  Families that need a more inexpensive alternative to Apple products would benefit from purchasing a Chromebook as these are highly utilized in public schools as well.  The “Hour of Code” that is dedicated in public schools is not sufficient to prepare students in the world of tech.  There are resources to implement tech both in and out of school, yet other demands tend to push that to the side in the elementary school grades.  Therefore, parents interested in their child learning tech related skills would benefit by taking time to teach their child or find the resources elsewhere like at https:code.org/learn.  IT is beneficial for parents to keep in mind their responsibility to create the norms of when and how it is best to use tech in their homes and social interactions with their children.

Want your child to go to a summer coding camp?

View the link to learn one way to get your child coding.

Apple launches coding camps for kids in its retail stores

While I am in no manner attempting to promote Apple products, readers interested in more articles about coding for kids and youth and click the below link:

 

 

 

You can use http://www.typing.com as one free online place to get started to learn how to type!

What kind of tech related skills do you want your child to learn?

Where or how do you keep limits on the use of technology for your children?

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