Tuesday, September 3, 2013

{Mosaic Reviews} Homeschool Programming

"What do you want to be when you grow up?"  If you were to ask either of my oldest boys these days, one of their first answers would be, "...a computer programmer like daddy!"

We were given the opportunity to try out Homeschool Programming, a computer science curriculum targeted for kids and teens in 4th - 12th grades.  I thought this would be a wonderful opportunity for our boys to experience first hand the type of work their dad does every day.

Homeschool Programming was created by homeschooling parents with degrees in Computer Science and Electrical Engineering who saw a need for computer science classes within the upper elementary to high school range.  The courses are completed on the student's {or family's} computer and students only need to have basic computer skills to begin their class.  Students can work through the material at their own pace and are able to learn independently.

The suggested course of study includes instruction in Visual Basic and web design for younger students and C# and Java for high school students. 

Each course has instructional lessons, activities to practice concepts learned in the lessons and their solutions, supplemental instructional documents, tests and answer keys, and free technical support.
So, how did our family use Homeschool Programming
First, let me tell you that I think computers hate me.  No, really.  I have some of the silliest problems and I feel helpless to solve them on my own.  I get by with limited knowledge and understanding of all technical stuff and it frustrates me that I don't know more.  My husband is great at humoring my computer illiteracy and usually with the swipe of his finger, problems are resolved.  I really felt like he was the one who should be guiding our boys along as they used Homeschool Programming.  Seriously, he supports our family doing this very thing...
But, as it turns out, I worked with them and it was a good thing.  Really good. 

We received KidCoder: Beginning Web Design as a downloadable product for the purpose of this review though customers receive hard copies of the student text and an installation CD.  My husband helped me get each item downloaded to our desktop so the boys and I could easily find the files every time we needed them.  I read through the first several lessons and completed the corresponding activities on my own before introducing it to my boys to get a feel for the program.  I had thought they could be independent with using this program but after looking it over, I decided it would be best for me to read the lessons with them, then let them complete the activities without my help.

The lessons are chock full of information.  They are written simply enough for upper elementary children to understand along with cartoon visuals and boxes to highlight important points.  Technical terms are used and are given easy to understand explanations.  I was concerned that my 4th and 6th graders would not read slowly or carefully enough to understand the information which is why I read the lessons with them.  I personally had to re-read parts of the lesson for the terms and ideas to sink in.  This is not an issue with Homeschool Programming or the way the information is presented.  It has everything to do with me.  I realize that I set myself up for failure at times because I don't try to understand computer related topics.  I'd rather just let my husband or someone else fix it for me.  Thankfully, my boys must have inherited my husband's brain for computer science because they didn't seem to have any trouble understanding what was being read to them. 
The boys were able to easily complete the activities corresponding to each lesson and are well on their way to creating a website!  In fact, they have really enjoyed learning about web design.  We are planning to complete the remaining lessons as part of our school plan this fall and move to advanced web design in our second semester.

Though my boys have learned a great deal, I feel like I have benefited the most from Homeschool Programming at this point.  I have a better understanding how to work with my blog and can look at the HTML code without feeling completely lost when I have a problem.  I am excited to continue studying with my boys, growing in my confidence around computers, and becoming more proficient in creating and understanding web design.

So, is Homeschool Programming only beneficial for a family who homeschools?  Or only for the targeted age range?  Absolutely not!  I believe that a wide variety of individuals, both in homeschool and public or private schools, both young and old, could gain valuable knowledge and hands-on practice from these courses!

If you are interested in purchasing Homeschool Programming or in viewing additional courses, please visit their website.

Check out additional Homeschool Programming reviews by my Mosaic Reviews team members!!!


No comments: