Is your child interested in computer technology? Eager to learn programming? Perhaps you have the next Thomas Suarez on your hands?

If you answered yes to any of the above, what options do you have to nurture that interest in web technology in your child? Well if you live in Toronto, you are in luck. Programs for kids to learn how to code are on the rise.

Hive Mozilla Heather Payne

Hive Toronto Youth Hack Jam

If you haven’t heard of Heather Payne, she is one of the ladies behind Ladies Learning Code; a group of women hoping to get women (and men) comfortable learning basic, beginner-level programming and technical skills.

Heather Payne is working with Mozilla to build a community of people in Toronto that want to inspire the next generation of web makers. Their goal is to host events to bring together the community and organizations,  promote digital literacy, and raise awareness and demand for these types of youth programs in Toronto.

This past Saturday, Heather ran a hackathon for kids held at Mozilla’s Community Space. At the event kids learned about webmaking, digital literacy, and using tools to explore and redesign the web. Over 50 kids, 40 parents, 30 volunteers, 10 teachers were part of Toronto’s first hackathon for kids. If the turnout is any indication, there is a clear demand for these types of events from both parents and kids.

You can sign up for the mailing list to be one of the first to know when the next hack jam is scheduled.

Girls Learning Codegirlslearningcode.com

The ladies that started Ladies Learning Code are also behind, Girls Learning Code, a tech camp exclusively for girls held over March Break. Over the course of the week, girls will:

  • be introduced to the concept of paired programming
  • work with Mozilla’s Hackasaurus
  • work with MIT’s Scratch
  • be introduced to the Python programming language through a MadLibs-style activity

If you are interested in registering your daughter, visit girlslearningcode.eventbrite.com. Registration ends March 5th.

Tools for Beginners

If you have a determined child on your hands, they can learn to code on their own. With tons of videos and forums online, don’t be surprised if it doesn’t take long for your kid to pick up the basics.

Listed below are a few tools your child might want to try starting out with:

  • Python: it’s considered the friendliest language for beginners to learn
  • KidsRuby: another user friendly program made especially for kids that makes it fun and easy to learn how to program using real Ruby code
  • Scratch: a programming language for everyone to create interactive stories, games, music and art – and share them online
  • Hackasaurus: makes it easy to mash up and change any web page like magic and create your own webpages to share with your friends, all within your browser

In an age where technology is moving at breakneck pace, and lots of jobs rely heavily on computer technology in some shape or form, opportunities for kids that promote digital literacy are essential. It seems Heather, Mozilla, and the ladies of Ladies Learning Code are on the pulse of this, and have managed to fill a void in the marketplace with programs for which there is a growing demand.

Are you interested in signing your kids up for a programming course? Do you wish there were more opportunities for kids to learn to code? Would you sign up if programs such as Girls (and Boys) Learning Code were offered in your neighbourhood?

 

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