17 ways to get kids coding this holiday season

Sarah Goff-Dupont
Nov 23, 2016 · 6 min read

It’s a brave new world out there… but at least preparing for it can still feel like child’s play.

The weather is getting colder, the days, shorter, and everybody is hunkering down for the cold weather months — including our kids. Which can be troubling, especially if they don’t have much to do over the long holiday season. To beat cabin fever (and give yourself a nice break!) why not try channeling your kids’ energy into learning a new skill: computer science.

We all know computer science has changed our world forever. But what we don’t yet know is how (or whether) the inflow of new tech workers will keep pace with demand. Tech jobs are already the most sought-after in the world today, with companies offering eye-popping compensation packages to secure the best talent. And the opportunities just keep on growing. Little wonder that nine parents of out ten want computer science taught at their child’s school.

The US Bureau of Labor and Statistics reports that by 2020, there will be 1.4 million jobs in computer science, but only 400,000 computer science graduates nationwide. The White House has even raised awareness and programs to fill this education gap, with a Computer Science for All initiative that teaches more kids to learn how to code. President Obama was quoted saying, “In the new economy, computer science isn’t an optional skill — it’s a basic skill.”

And yet, computer science is not part of the required curriculum in US public schools.

While it may seem like things aren’t moving fast enough to expose kids to this important skill, there are things we parents can do now to cultivate our children’s interest in computing from an early age. The more a child feels like they can “do” computers, the more likely they are to pursue computing as a career.

Coding is about learning by doing. So the parents of Atlassian have put together some recommendations to help kids develop computer skills, and have a ton of fun in the process.

Online Resources

  1. With tutorials for kids as young as four, Code.org is the best online tool for starting kids at an early age. Code.org is famous for their hour of code, which includes four free hour-long tutorials based on popular movies and characters from Star Wars, Frozen, and Minecraft. (Speaking of which, standing up a Minecraft server you can modify is a great way for technical parents to get their kids comfortable with the command line, as one of our staff recently discovered.) Best for ages: 4+

Games

  1. Based on the Scratch language, Scratch Jr is an iPad game for young kids that doesn’t require reading. Best for ages: 5–7

Toys

  1. Goldieblox changed the world of girl’s toys forever when they set out to “disrupt the pink aisle” dominated by ultra-feminine toys for girls. Driven to increase the number of women in STEM, Goldieblox creates toys and characters for girls that activate their creativity in building things, and helps them picture themselves as a future STEM whiz. Best for girls ages: 4+

Books

  1. Written by a father and son team, Hello World introduces the world of computer programming in a friendly and engaging style. Best for ages: 12+

Between books, games, toys, and online learning, your child is sure to find STEM-boosting activities that fit their style (and your budget). It’s a brave new world out there… but at least preparing for it can still feel like child’s play.

Special thanks to Natalie Mendes, my partner-in-crime on this piece!


Originally published at blogs.atlassian.com.

Sarah Goff-Dupont

Written by

Principal Writer at Atlassian by day. Snowboarder, seamstress, reader, CrossFit-er, and wine-lover by night.