Thread: Getting a kid into programming ... ?

  1. #1
    Registered User Alpo's Avatar
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    Getting a kid into programming ... ?

    My sister and nephew were at my house earlier, and I was showing my sister some new things in a game I've been messing with. I was letting my nephew add some things with a map editor, and afterwards he asked me to teach him programming. My sister said it was a great idea, and before I had really thought, I had agreed to teach him some stuff.

    He is a bit over 8 years old I think.

    I would like to teach him programming, but under no circumstance do I want him to feel like it's simply too hard for him to ever do. I would rather just not teach him at all, rather than teach him that he is incapable of ever doing anything meaningful - if that makes sense. So that limits anything too hard.

    Also, I would like for what I'm teaching him to at least give him some gratification, to increase the chance he will stick with it (or at least leave pleasant memories if not).

    So I'm left with these goals:

    1) Nothing hard enough to discourage. (most important)

    2) Something that produces gratifying/visual results.


    Given this, I was thinking about just teaching him HTML. This feels a bit cheap to me though, as he is obviously wanting something he could potentially make a game with.

    I basically need something as easy as HTML, but as efficacious as C++ :P .

    Is HTML a fair/good thing to teach him? Is there anything else out there that would be a better start?

  2. #2
    and the hat of int overfl Salem's Avatar
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    If you dance barefoot on the broken glass of undefined behaviour, you've got to expect the occasional cut.
    If at first you don't succeed, try writing your phone number on the exam paper.

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    i just had to
    "
    1. if your going to say HTML is a programming language then you might as well include things such as word documents, as they too work on ML 'Markup Language' so no HTML is a not a programming language its called markup for that reason.. simply put HTML defines content!

    "

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    Quote Originally Posted by Alpo View Post
    I basically need something as easy as HTML, but as efficacious as C++ :P .

    Is HTML a fair/good thing to teach him? Is there anything else out there that would be a better start?
    Why do you think HTML is easy;; Is it because you can see the result in the browser right away? For a programming language with this quality, look into ones that supply a good interpreter. Python comes to mind.

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    Registered User MutantJohn's Avatar
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    I second Python. I think it's a pretty simple language though I'm not sure if that means much of anything. Python is more program-y than html, I think. And it'd be really simple for him to learn "hello world" in Python as well.

    Actually, you could just have him work for EA! Oh! Shots were fired, EA; come get this.

  6. #6
    Unregistered User Yarin's Avatar
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    Yes, HTML is a good choice. It's not programming, but it helps lay the foundation for this type of thinking.
    I also agree that Python is a good choice.

    Just remember that regardless of what language you decide to teach him first, he'll need self motivation. If he doesn't have that, it's a lost cause.

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    And don't forget, most children of that age have a very limited attention span, and if they don't see visible results quickly then they'll probably abandon the task. For this reason I suggest you really look into the links posted by salem.

    Jim

  8. #8
    Registered User Alpo's Avatar
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    Ok, I've looked into a few things, and Logo really does look good. I've found some sites that teach it, that have the visual output right above the command prompt area. It uses some math, but it's well explained, and I don't think it will go completely over his head. Thanks a million!

    @c99tutorial - When I said HTML was easy, I was really just speaking from personal experience. I remember teaching myself when I was around 12 (from what I remember it was the original HTML), from a book called "HTML Goodies". Also there was a "JavaScript Goodies" that I attempted after I finished the first one, and it was hard enough that I eventually went back to just doing HTML. I guess the impression just stuck with me.

    @MutantJohn - My nephew's actually the CEO of EA, I think he's involved in negotiations to have the next Xbox come with a giant "awesome button" instead of a controller .
    Last edited by Alpo; 09-02-2014 at 11:30 AM.

  9. #9
    Registered User MutantJohn's Avatar
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    Lol that's so awesome XD

    Man, that makes the joke better, imo.

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    Lurking whiteflags's Avatar
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    1. Get the kid to play minecraft.

    2. Wait.

    3. Buy this. Put it a place the kid will see everyday to drop that subtle hint.

    4. Wait.

  11. #11
    Registered User Alpo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by whiteflags View Post
    1. Get the kid to play minecraft.

    2. Wait.

    3. Buy this. Put it a place the kid will see everyday to drop that subtle hint.

    4. Wait.
    That is great lol. I think maybe I should replace steps 2 & 4 with "Hide from his mom" though. I never played MineCraft, but if it's as life derailing as Ultima Online was, I'll probably need to buy a helmet to protect myself from the rolling pins I'll be getting smacked with :P.

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    Registered User MacNilly's Avatar
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    Underestimating a person's ability based on age is a mistake. Teach him Scheme and continuation passing style.

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    Registered User laughing_man's Avatar
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    How about exposing him to different families of languages and letting him choose for himself depending upon his aesthetics. First explain to him what is a programming language and why we need it. Then show him the samples and the environments(which is also necessary) in which the language can be used easily. The problem now a days is that whatever language a person is associated to first and for a long time that person tends to get biased towards it; and think that a particular thing can be and has to be implemented only in a certain way and there is no other way to do it. I, myself, am torn between C and BASIC. BASIC was my first crush and C was my first love. I learned all about structured programming in BASIC(even though it is popular belief now a days that it is not good for it). I did this on my school computer when I was 14-16 years old. I only had 0.5 hour access per week, but it was fun for me. Then after many years in my college I had to learn C(and Java and VB.NET) and had to implement all my math algorithms in it. So I am attached to it too. Had I a computer of my own I would have had more footing in the BASIC path. But... So, since he has a guide/mentor in you GUIDE him.

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