You order dinner with a computer in the palm of your hands. You check how many calories you burned today on a computer mounted to your wrist. You work on a computer, play games on a computer, tap your transit card on a computer, read the newspaper on a computer…
They are everywhere. And to keep them operating smoothly, advancing to meet the shifting needs of humans, the workforce requires computer-proficient people. Across industries and jobs, there is a present need for computer science, and you can rest assured that there will be a future need too.
Here’s another near-universal truth: kids love computers. If you want to foster your kid’s love of computers in a way that sets them up for success in computer science, here are a few tips.
Make Sure It’s What They Want
The first step in setting a kid up for success in a specific field is making sure it’s what they want. Unlike the computers themselves, you can’t merely input motivation and expect an output of passion. Kids don’t work like that. They create their own passion, ambition and determination based on what they find fun and exciting.
Rather than push your kid toward learning about computers, give them the tools to explore for themselves. Allow them computer time, encourage them to code their own games or share your own enthusiasm about computers. If they want to pursue computer science, they will come to the realization themselves.
Emphasize the Creative Aspects of Coding
As a series of symbols and letters, coding can seem, well… dry. At least to the mind of a kid, when you divorce coding from its creative functionality, it starts to look an awful lot like tedious rote work. It’s important to emphasize the creative aspect of coding: bringing to life images, applications, games and simulations!
Consider Coding Camp
For younger computer-lovers, nothing fosters enthusiasm quite like summer coding camp. In these camps, kids are taught the fundamentals of computer languages, usually through a fun project like game design.
Working towards something enjoyable and rewarding – like designing your own video game –is one of the best ways to instil a love for computer science. They get to hang out with friends, compare code and partake in the culture of computers.
Encourage High School Courses that Serve as Prerequisites
Pursuing a Computer Science BSc requires more than just a passion for computers – it requires a tangible demonstration of prerequisite learning. The only way to do this is to ensure that your kid knows what prerequisites she/he needs for university.
For university Computer Science programs, a background in science and math is essential. They need a prerequisite in data management(MDM4U)or Calculus and Vectors (MCV4U). If that’s impossible to come by at your kid’s school, or if they already have a set course load, don’t sweat it: you can complete your data management course online or your Calculus and Vectors course through aschool authorized to grant credits.
In summary, if you want to set your kid up for success in computer science, foster passion from a young age and follow through with an actionable plan to get them the courses they need.