Preparing Your Child for Computer Science

Keyboard, Red and Black Ink, LLC.

Computer science, software development and computer programming are some of the fastest growing areas in our economy.

Traditional jobs that were once mainstays in the workforce are now being replaced or supplemented with computer related skills and hardware.  What will the job market be like 30 years from now or even 20 years from now?

As a person who has shifted careers, I am now turning to something I love, computer programming.  It occurred to me that some of our children might not be getting the development they need to be competitive in a digital world.  Some of this might be due to the fact that many American schools don't teach computer science.  Some of it might also be because children grow up thinking of the computer as tool for entertainment alone, when they use it in their spare time.

The other reasons may be that they aren't prepared to develop these skills because they haven't gotten the training academically and they might think that this is simply not for them.

This is simply not true and being able to adapt to changing dynamics in the workforce, and as it relates to entrepreneurial initiatives is important.

One of the most important things you can do to help your child adapt to a changing environment is to help him or her read consistently.

Reading is Essential

I have learned, through experience, that it is almost impossible to develop a new skill without reading.  Picking up a new skill requires, not only practice and visual demonstration, but also reading.  You have to be the kind of person who searches for answers and who delves through tricky information in order to come up with a solution.  Many companies require employees to learn and develop on the job--which requires training programs and reading.

Studying computer programming and learning about new languages requires reading through source materials and developing novel ideas.  If a child doesn't enjoy reading, or doesn't actively read, it will be difficult to adapt to a changing economy that will pass you by if you're not prepared.

Mathematics

Many of our children may say that math is difficult or that they simply don't think that they will need this "stuff" in their future.  Everything a computer does is math--our children are interacting with math everyday when they pick up their smartphones or get on the Internet.

We can either be consumers or entrepreneurs; we can participate in the development of new technology or we can simply consume it.  It doesn't take much math to master some of these concepts.  In fact, a good foundation in algebra will help you go a long way toward developing computer science skills.

But, don't let me stop you there.  If your child is someone who plays computer games (or video games), they are loaded with mathematics and physics.  How else do they get the animations in the video games to look so real and to make the ball bounce in a way that seems realistic when it hits the rim in a video game?

There is mathematics in everything we do, not just in computer science.  So, don't let your child simply disregard mathematics, encourage him or her to go forward and remember, it's never too late to learn.

Computers Can Be Used For More Than Just Entertainment

This may sound obvious, but many of us don't make use of the awesome power and information available to us, right at our fingertips.  I am always amazed when someone says they are wondering about some fact or want to know information about some idea they might have.

I usually say, "Go online and look it up!"  "I remember when we had to go to an encyclopedia to find out information or go to a library to look it up."

Now if you want to know about the Human Genome Project or what happened today in London, you can find out information in seconds.  You don't have to rely on others, you can go right to the source.

Encouraging your child to have good research skills or simply to utilize the computer as a tool (with your supervision of course) is a good way of telling them that anything is possible, if they just reach for it.

Now these may sound like simple techniques, but they have occurred to me as both obstacles and opportunities as it relates to developing skills in a new technological economy.

  • Encourage reading (of anything) to find out new information.
  • Don't dismiss math, it's being applied around us everywhere and it can help you be a part of the solutions and not just the consumption of products.
  • Utilize the computer (and the smartphone) for edification and education and not only for entertainment.  Maybe require your child to spend some time reading educational material and not simply social media, while on the Internet.

I hope some of these suggestions are useful and I will be sharing many more tips in the coming months.

 

© 2017 Danita Smith, Red and Black Ink, LLC.

 

Danita Smith