As someone who has grown up right alongside the evolution of STEM, while also being a parent of two young boys (ages 4 and 6), I know firsthand the importance of tech literacy in today's world.
My older son has taken a Scratch class, and messes around on the Chromebook in after school enrichment courses. All great stuff; I'm happy he's had these opportunities.
But while he's learning some new skills, he hasn't yet been properly taught how to type or gain a deeper understanding of what the computer is all about. Some of that's on me, as I need to be one to give my kids the skills they'll use to navigate the digital world with confidence and competence.
That said, I'm not at that point, nor do we have a ton of extra time.
So, it's a predicament—I want him to get more and more familiar with the computer, but we aren't ready to/capable of doing so at home, and school doesn't currently offer such experience to "ease" him in.
If you're a parent, you likely share this same concern. That's why in this blog post, we're going to help each other navigate the world of technology education for kids.
We'll take a closer look at computer classes and computer science classes, exploring the key differences between them and what each can offer your child.
(And while we don't mention specific typing courses, you can check out these many typing apps for kids.)
Computer Classes for Kids
Moving from basic to more challenging, here are 9 awesome computer classes for you to consider for your kids.
In today's data-driven world, having a solid foundation in spreadsheet skills is a must for anyone who needs to quickly analyze, track, and manage data. Such a course offers an introduction to Microsoft Excel and covers key formulas that enable power users to be most efficient.
But it's not just about numbers and formulas—kids can also learn about the user-centric side of spreadsheets, such as color coding, merging cells, creating graphs, and more.
With these computer skills, they'll be able to organize and collect data in a way that ensures key insights and new information come through loud and clear (when the time comes).
Adobe Photoshop is the industry-standard software for photo editing and manipulation, making it an essential tool for anyone who might interested in digital art, photography, or graphic design (or even marketing and entrepreneurship).
A Photoshop course will teach the fundamentals of digital drawing and design, as well as how to use this professional software to edit photos and create new artwork. By the end of the course, kids could have the skills to develop a digital portfolio showcasing their work and newfound creative abilities.
Speaking of graphic design, communicating information and meaning through art is impactful. Adobe Illustrator, the worldwide standard in vector art creation, allows kid designers to take their skills to the next level.
By crafting scalable work that can be mathematically increased or decreased in size, designers can save time and focus on what matters—their art and message. This is especially important when designing for web or other digital media, where screen sizes vary.
With Adobe Illustrator, kids can develop more efficiently, creating images that look just as good no matter what device they are viewed on.
Moving from creativity toward logical thinking, a Scratch coding class is the perfect introductory platform for kids to dive into programming.
Developed by MIT Media Lab, Scratch provides a drag-and-drop creative learning environment for your child to experiment with code blocks and characters (sprites), and build animated stories and games.
Through designing and animating - and using arithmetic operators - your child will gain a strong base in computational thinking, and build confidence in their creative abilities.
If your child is interested in moving beyond just playing video games and into designing them, an intro to 3D game design class may be the perfect fit.
With the help of industry-standard tools, kids can learn how to design game mechanics, explore 3D game design, and bring their ideas to life.
By starting with a game engine, they can create immersive worlds and levels that they can get lost in for hours.
Minecraft is a beloved game among kids, and an opportunity to learn and have fun at the same time! With Minecraft classes, your child can learn to build and design their own creations in this digital world.
They can create elaborate redstone circuits and machines, utilize command blocks to enhance maps, and develop planning and design skills that will serve them well in many areas.
Moving even deeper, general computer science classes can help your child build an interest in coding and explore a range of topics in the field.
In these classes, your child can solidify their understanding of fundamental concepts such as variables, if statements, and functions. They can also work with different algorithms and data structures to gain experience with more advanced concepts.
These classes can also introduce your child to object-oriented programming, an important paradigm in modern programming languages. By exploring a variety of topics in computer science, your child can develop a diverse skill set and prepare themselves for a wide range of opportunities in the field.
Back to design, but with a bit of coding as well! If your child is interested in web design, a class in HTML can prove to be fruitful.
HTML is the structure that holds everything else in a website, and by learning HTML, your child can develop static web content and focus on putting content first.
In these classes, your child can learn to edit tags, work with images and text, and develop a design that prioritizes content.
Last, Python is a versatile programming language that is great for kids and can be used to create a wide range of applications, from arcade-style games to advanced machine learning models.
One of the benefits of Python is its clear syntax, which makes it easy to write and debug code. Whether your child is just starting out or is learning more advanced algorithms, Python can be a great choice for building their skills.
In these classes, kids can learn how to declare, initialize, and use variables, work with strings, characters, and algorithms, and read and respond to user input.
Computer training can come in a number of forms, as shown above—and that includes the format, time of year, etc. From after school classes to coding camps, and more, kids can familiarize themselves with the machine that could very much be the base of their professional lives for years to come.