Homeschool Programming Curriculum

by Jimmie Lanley on January 11, 2013

Part of Emma’s eighth grade curriculum has been the Kid Coder series from Homeschool Programming.  The Kid Coder series has two volumes, one for each semester of a school year:

  • Windows Programming
  • Game Programming

The curriculum explains how to download, install, and use Visual Basic software. Armed with just her laptop computer and this Windows programming curriculum, Emma learned the foundations of using Visual Basic to write code. Quite impressive for a 13 year old!

From Nothing to Something in Computer Programming

Emma and I had no prior knowledge, but the lessons take you step by step through the jargon with detailed lessons both in printed and video form. (The video CD is a separate purchase from the book but is included in the giveaway at the bottom of this post.)

It was a great feeling to move from absolutely no understanding to being able to create simple programs with multi-step actions. We even have a private joke now about “button!” One day I told Emma she would be creating a button that would say “hello” when she pressed it.  For a child who loves Instagram, a simple text button seemed pretty dull. But once she created it, she really was excited! It was a great feeling of accomplishment, and we laughed over her change of heart over her “button!” Now it’s an inside joke to say “Button!” in a goofy voice when something small gives us joy.

Because I wanted to learn alongside her, we chose to read the textbook instead of relying on the videos. She is already doing a few subjects independently, and I didn’t want this to be another assignment she did alone in her room. I got the added benefit of learning some coding language too!

Serious IT for Kids and Teens

Let me tell you, Kid Coder may have the word kid in it, but it’s not for little kids. This material was a challenge for me!

When I chose Kid Coder, I was worried it would be too easy since Emma is at the upper range of the grade limit. Silly concern.  Although it is created for 4th -8th grades, this material was very challenging to my 13 year old. It was not impossible by any means, but it really forced her to think and stretch herself. (I liked that!)

Homeschool Programming is not fluff. This is seriously practical curriculum.

To prove it, my husband is working through the textbooks on his own since he is making a career shift into the IT field. He was pleasantly surprised at how thorough and well-planned out the curriculum is.

When I went to TechCamp Memphis in November, I was pleased to see high school students there on a Saturday to learn more about coding and developing. (I even met a sophomore who was homeschooled!)  I kept thinking that Homeschool Programming would be such a great starting point for a whole career in a growing and profitable field.

Even though Emma has no intention of going into the IT field, I think it is to her benefit to learn the basics of coding.

Our Experience with Homeschool Programming

Learning computer programming is very much like learning a foreign language. It is very awkward at first and feels like it makes no sense. But even when you don’t understand what you are saying, you just follow the directions, and it works. (Button!)

Emma seemed to catch on far more quickly than I did. That is probably because she grew up bilingual (speaking English and Chinese in China). Her language learning abilities are far superior to my own. After just a few lessons, she was making jokes based on the new vocabulary.

If you know any coding, you will understand.

One night on her way to bed, Emma said, “I’m declaring my dim variable as tired. Emma.text = ZZZZZ.”
When homeschool lessons make their way into family jokes, you know the children are really internalizing the material.

Busy at work creating code

Computer Programming Curriculum Review

Because you are starting from zero, a lot is presented in each lesson– terminology, examples, and explanation. The information can get tedious if you are impatient. So I recommend doing the Homeschool Programming lessons when you are fresh, not at the end of the day when you just want school to be over. (Good advice for any challenging subject.)

A lot of information is presented before the application exercises, so it can be hard to absorb without context. But once you use the new functions, they are fun and rewarding.

One way we made Homeschool Programming work for us was to skip ahead to the application section and then go back through the how tos and definitions as we needed them in the exercise. Reversing the order worked better for our style of learning. Emma and I are both big picture learners, at least at the onset of something. We needed to see what the new code was going to do before we could learn about how to write it. (Always be willing to tweak your curriculum and make it work for you!)

Again, Homeschool Programming is very thorough. Besides the step by step lessons, there are tests and solutions to all the exercises.

Getting Help

One of the major perks of Homeschool Programming, in my opinion, is the support you get. Christ Yust, the owner of the company and the writer of the curriculum provides online help via email.

We sometimes had difficulties with the code that we could not figure out, and Chris patiently walked us through our problems, even directing us to pages in the book we needed to reference. Emma used screenshots to send him details of her problems, and that whole process was yet another learning opportunity for her.

There was one time when we got the dreaded reply, “I’ve never seen that before!” Uh oh. But Chris researched it and my husband was able to follow his directions to get us back on track. Not a lot of courses include email support. Having that back up made me confident because I have no personal experience with programming.

If you are wanting to use HS Programming on a scheduled timetable, it can be difficult when you get stuck. You have to wait for the next day for an email reply. Then if that didn’t work, it’s another day’s wait. There was a whole week we did not gain any ground in the textbook simply because we were going back and forth with emails. That is the nature of the study, however. And in honesty, we did learn though the process. (Homeschooling means we can be flexible and learn through the detours.)

Looks of concentration are part and parcel with this curriculum.

Bottom Line Assessment of Homeschool Programming

Homeschool Programming is a quality curriculum that I strongly recommend. As far as I know, there is nothing else out there that takes children from no understanding to writing simple code in just a semester. There certainly could not be any program that is better designed or provides better support. This curriculum is a good investment of your homeschool dollars.

Homeschool Programming Online

You can find Homeschool Programming on these social media platforms:

(Following them on those platforms gives you a chance at extra entries in the giveaway below.)

More Reviews of Homeschool Programming

If you’d like to read more reviews from different perspectives and some of the Teen Coder series, see these posts by my blogging friends. And by entering their giveaways, you have a greater chance of winning, too!

Spell Outloud (Teen Coder)
These Temporary Tents (Kid Coder)
See Jamie Blog
Momma Hopper

Why Learn Programming?

If you aren’t sure whether your child should learn programming, watch this well made video. It’s pretty convincing. Learning programming is equivalent to being able to speak the language of trade.

Disclosure

I received this curriculum from Homeschool Programming and was compensated for my time in writing the review. This post does contain affiliate links. I heartily endorse Homeschool Programming as my honest opinion.

Enter to Win Your Own Kid or Teen Coder Curriculum

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