My kids are growing up in a different world than I did. The advances in technology just in my lifetime are staggering. (and I’m not that old!) There’s actually a term for members of this computer generation. They’re called Digital Natives.
My oldest son has loved all things computer since he started playing with his very own Freddie Fish game. I remember asking him for help on Print Master once. The end of the conversation went like this.
“Thanks for helping me sweetheart.”
“You’re welcome Mommy. If you need more help, I’ll be in the living room watching Dora.”
I am not exaggerating. (OK, maybe he wasn’t that polite.)
My son’s interest in the computer quickly evolved from playing to creating. He started out using simple graphic software. (like PrintMaster). He learned how to draw using the computer (He draws with a pencil too). He has taught himself how to manipulate digital images and edit videos. Most recently he began creating games with Game Maker. It was obvious that at some point he should take his computer skills to the next level and begin to learn programming.
The problem was how?
I am not a computer programmer.
My husband is not a computer programmer.
My son is too young for dual-enrollment classes at the community college.
That’s why I cannot adequately express how excited I was at being given the opportunity to review the TeenCoder Series by Homeschool Programming.
TeenCoder is a High School level course consisting of two-parts. Part One covers Windows Programming and has 17 chapters. Part Two covers Game Programming in 15 chapters. Windows Programming is taught using C# and Microsoft’s Visual C# Express Edition (available free). Game Programming uses Microsoft’s Visual C# Express like the Windows course, plus adds Microsoft XNA Game Studio.
My son has been working through Part One during this school year. Both parts could be done in one school year at a pace of a chapter per week, but since he’s young, we’re spreading it out. The text is well-written with plenty of examples and activities for the student to complete. There are tests and solutions included for each chapter as well.
My biggest concern about my son taking a computer programming class was how I could help him. That has not been a problem at all with the TeenCoder series. The text is so well-written that my son has needed very little help. But the Teacher’s Guide is written with this exact problem in mind. It tells you what you should look for when you’re checking the activities, and provides a disk with files to give your student hints on the code if they get stuck. And if that’s not enough, the authors invite you to contact them with questions.
The Homeschool Programming website provides helpful information about choosing the right program including sample pages and demo videos. The TeenCoder year pack can be purchased for $130 or each book can be purchased separately for $75 each. My son and I are very pleased with this curriculum and highly recommend it for the computer-minded student.
Disclosure: I received the TeenCoder Year Pack for free to review as a member of TOS Homeschool Crew. I was not compensated for this review. All opinions expressed are my own.
Linked to: The Homeschool Curriculum Review Roundup.