We all know that in today’s world, programming skills are an important asset, no matter the field you choose to work in.
I know I am not the only one stressing out about my son’s readiness for the world. I’m trying hard to predict what skills will be in high demand in 10 years and what direction I should steer him towards. I know he will choose his own path, and I am grateful to have discovered help in this regard as well, but it never hurts to have those extra skills that might just land you the job you’ve wished for.
That’s why we will start focusing on more than the basic academics for middle school and up. I think M is ready to take on more, and programming is one of the things on our list.
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- Why are Programming Skills Important
- MYTEK LAB
- Our Class – Programming 1
- Why I love MYTEK LAB
- 👾 Independent & Easy to Use
- 👾 Assignments and Feedback
- 👾 Learning by Immersion
- 👾 Resilience and Grit
- 👾Growth Mindset
- 👾 Flexible
- 👾Fun and Engaging
- 👾 Something useful
- Over to You and Video
Why are Programming Skills Important
Even more than programming, technology skills are a must-know. Technology is everywhere, and it runs our lives.
I am a millennial that grew up to see the first blocky computers (with floppy disks) transform into the first iPhone! I went from having a film camera to wirelessly paying for groceries with my watch. This fast-growing advancement rate is here to stay, and it isn’t slowing down. Au contraire, it seems to pick up speed.
Whether or not we like it, our future will be technology. And the sooner our kids learn to manipulate it, the better. But I have to make a clear distinction here.
I know it’s confusing for many parents. It’s so easy not to fall into the colorful trap of baby programmer, learn how to code frenzy. It’s not all ok. Trust me. We’ve tried it all. And as a parent that has done a bit of coding, my advice is to wait until your children are old enough. Save your money. Babies won’t code! And block coding isn’t really coding.
Typing before Coding
Wait until 3rd to 5th grade, and introduce them to real coding. Coding that they need to type line by line. Before that, just let them play on Nitro Type. It’s a free typing program created as a game. They will need some typing skills before starting on a programming journey.
I consider myself pretty tech-savvy, but I know few parents are comfortable with gadgets and devices. I always enjoyed learning new things and even learned some coding myself when I created this website. It’s difficult, but it’s so satisfying when you finally understand how to change the color of that title to anything you like, haha.
That doesn’t mean I am an expert, though, and I can definitely not teach M proper coding. That’s where the guys from MYTEK LAB come into play!
MYTEK LAB was created by Jacky and Stephen Souders. They are such a happy duo and I loved observing them interact with the children. When classes start, Jacky is the one giving the class start, asking how everyone is and if they are all ready. You can tell that she has experience in early childhood education.
Stephen is the IT mastermind, explaining and taking children through every project. He is there to explain and hold kids’ hands through the complex world of programming. His IT background and teaching experience make him the perfect programming teacher.
MYTEK LAB is geared to kids from 3rd to 12th grades and high schoolers can even get credits for taking this class.
MYTEK LAB offers year-long live classes – but don’t worry if the timing doesn’t work for you because you get access to the recorded lessons as well.
And even if you want to join the classes later in the year, you get access to the previous, recorded classes.
There are multiple options for you to choose from:
- [SUMMER CLASS] 3D Modeling & Animation – for 9-12 year olds
- TEKnology Lab 1-4 – for 11+ year olds
- Programming 1 – for 11+ year olds (our current class)
- Software Engineering 1 – for 13+ year olds
Parents will have to create an account and add their children. You can do this for free if you want to explore the program or even have access to the online simulators and community.
Everything is in one place under the dashboard and the layout is very easy to navigate and intuitive. Once subscribed, you will get a weekly email, 15 minutes before every class starts. The live link to the Zoom meeting is inside the dashboard.
After class, you will find the assignments and any notes, links, or helpful tips from Stephen will be posted there.
The teachers are very responsive and you can ask for their help at any point if you are stuck or need extra help. They are just a message away.
I love how organized everything is and how easy it is to navigate.
MYTEK LAB classes cost between $49 and $98 per month, which makes them quite an affordable option, considering these are all live classes and kids have access to a knowledgeable teacher 24/7.
The duration of the classes is 1 hour per week, for 10 months, just enough time to complete a full credit for high school.
Our Class – Programming 1
We chose Programming 1 because M had previously dabbled in programming with his mentor and he loved it. They didn’t take it far, but it was enough to spark his curiosity.
So far, he’s been doing it for about 2 months and he happily spends extra time to tweak and change the projects on his own. For me, that’s a clear sign he understood the code and he found it interesting.
For the first project, the kids needed to make a calculator in Java and M used what he learned in the class to take it further, changing colors and even the number of numbers you can input.
For the second project, they learned how to make a drawing pad where you could draw by using your mouse. He spent lots of hours changing the shapes and sizes of the brushes or canvas.
It might not seem like much, but these are concepts that are at the base of webpage building.
I am impressed with M’s evolution and we will continue paying for these classes for the years to come.
Why I love MYTEK LAB
I am so happy I discovered this class because programming skills were on our to learn list for next year. Here’s what I love about MYTEK LAB and why we will keep using it as our technology curriculum for many years to come.
👾 Independent & Easy to Use
Parents don’t need to know anything about programming or even be tech-savvy to use this. Just a basic knowledge of setting up an account and connecting the kids to Zoom classes is enough.
I love how hands-off it is for parents to use. If you’ve been reading my latest posts, you noticed this is something I am looking for more and more: moving M to complete study independence. This program allows me to sit back and let him take the driver’s seat on our learning journey.
👾 Assignments and Feedback
I love that kids can submit assignments, and the teachers will grade them. This is a useful aspect for us. Our school, Bridgeway Academy, asks for tests and grades submission, so for us, this aspect is a great plus.
I can easily submit the grades from MYTEK LAB to our school and even get high school credit for their classes. I love it when the curriculum we like falls into place with our school so seamlessly.
👾 Learning by Immersion
We all know learning happens best by doing. This is true, especially for IT and programming.
I don’t know about you, but while I was in school, my mom happily enrolled me and my sister in a technology class. Everything seemed great, except there were just 3 computers for a class of 20 kids. We didn’t even see those computers often, because the teacher would only allow the best among us to touch them. But the class went on. How? The teacher would torture us for long hours in memorizing how to FILE<OPEN<SAVE AS<PROPERTIES… Does that ring a bell? If it doesn’t, count yourself lucky.
What I am saying is that a lot of technology textbooks are set up like this even today, and teachers still teach by using rote learning!
Do I need to state the obvious and say this is NOT how you learn technology? You need to interact with it; you need to make mistakes; you need to figure it out on your own.
MYTEK LAB is all about doing and I love the class setup! I love how Stephen explains the lessons to kids, but then there is no easy, magic copy-paste solution. They have to type it all in themselves. They have to do it all on their own while understanding what each line of code does.
👾 Resilience and Grit
After school, I taught myself how to use a computer. I taught myself how to work with specialized software like Photoshop and Lightroom. I taught myself how to build a website. I made mistakes; I lost my work; I started again. For hours and hours, I learned and didn’t quit.
I think programming (along with music) are great channels to nurture resilience and grit.
Resilience is your capacity of bouncing back from negative experiences and disturbances, and grit is your perseverance and passion.
Too many kids nowadays are used to quitting if things don’t go their way. The moment they hit something hard, they stop trying. This is a real problem.
What is programing if not the very definition of resilience and grit? You have an idea, you apply it, nothing happens, you troubleshoot, you improve, you troubleshoot some more.
MYTEK LAB helps build resilience and grit because kids are encouraged to find their own problems when something doesn’t work. Programming is hard work, but if they keep at it, they will soon be creating their own working programs! And the satisfaction of this will dwarf the stress of trying.
Another thing I’ve noticed about Stephen is that he is using growth mindset techniques in the class. How cool is that? I love teachers that do this, and I was sold from the very first class when he told kids they can just grow from their mistakes. Mistakes are not the end, just a way to learn more.
I love that in MYTEK LAB kids are encouraged to find the answers themselves. Stephen is just guiding the conversation by asking kids what they think would happen if they add another command? What would change?
This gives everyone plenty of time to make connections, make predictions, and figure things out on their own. This type of learning is the best: the teacher acts as a mentor, guiding kids to find the answers themselves and helping only where he needs to.
I love how flexible MYTEK LAB classes are. Even though we enrolled and have classes at a specific time each week, sometimes we can’t be present online in time. (We all know how homeschool schedules work.)
I love that we aren’t missing out on anything because the classes are there for us anytime. Recorded classes are uploaded to the dashboard as soon as they are over.
Also, I noticed that Stephen is great at adjusting as he goes. He noticed that some kids had trouble keeping up the pace, so he took the feedback from everyone and adjusted the pace. This is an amazing teaching trait you don’t see much.
👾Fun and Engaging
It’s not easy getting kids to want to learn. MYTEK LAB classes were so fun that they captivated M from the very first class.
He is now asking me to work some more on his projects and he loves spending time tweaking them to his linking.
I love seeing his programming skills growing with every single class and him becoming more and more comfortable with using technology and experimenting with it.
He’s so proud every time he is showing us his new projects. ❤️
👾 Something useful
I was debating whether this is a real plus for MYTEK LAB and decided it is. In today’s world, where screens take up an increasing amount of our day, I think it’s important that kids learn how to use the screen for something useful.
We already established that programming skills are useful to have. Why not encourage your kids to spend their time in front of a screen creating things and building on their skills.
Programming isn’t easy and it can’t be learned in a couple of days. It requires a certain investment of time and effort.
I am happy that for once M is spending useful screen time learning something that will help him in the future. At least now he is focused on the positive side of the screens, the creative side.
Over to You and Video
What do you think about teaching programming skills and technology literacy to your kids? Do you have any favorite programs you’re using? Let me know in the comments, I’d love to talk!
For those of you that want to see inside a class, I made a YouTube video:
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