Homeschool Programming was created due to a demand for children to learn computer skills . Especially programming. The love of computers begins at an early age. There is not a lot of computer programming courses our there for children. And that is why this program was created. It was created by homeschool parents who have B.S. & M.S. degrees in Computer Science and Electrical Engineering. Combined they have 17+ years of experience in the software industry. To read more about the beginnings of Homeschool Programming click here.
Homeschool Programming offers several programs. They have their KidCoder Visual Basic (the program we are reviewing), KidCoder Web, TeenCoder C# and TeenCoder Java.
I remember the excitement I felt when my parents purchased our first computer. I was just turning 12 and it ran MS-DOS. Yes, I had to type commands to run any program that was on the computer. But first I had to type the directory to see what we had. And then if there was a 5-inch floppy to use well that was another story!
My husband grew up with the early Apple computers. And he even remembers the fun associated with using them as well. He tells me that his first computer was a Commodore 64. You might need to look that up if you want to peg the age range for my dearly beloved.
We consider ourselves fairly proficient in the technological realm and know that computers and information technology is going to be around for quite some time. This is why we want to give our children a good understanding early on about how technology works. Not just plop them in front of a computer and say "Here you go. Enjoy the game we got you." We want them to realize the work that goes into these games so that they can appreciate their value even more.
The KidCoder Visual Basic course was used by our oldest son, Jonathan. He is going into the 6th grade this fall but we felt that he would be able to handle the course fairly well. He loves computers and working on them, so to give him more of an understanding of certain languages used to create programs was a great opportunity for all of us. The curriculum is geared for 6th-12th grades.
We received both semester of the KidCoder VB course which include Windows Programming and Game Programming.
During the 8 weeks of our review I had Jonathan work through the Windows Programming portion. He would work on a lesson every other day. Depending on how much reading and computer work it would take him about an hour to complete.
There were times it did take a bit more due to him not understanding a direction the correct way. I would make sure that he did this course when the house was fairly quiet so I could help him if necessary.
While you don't need to know anything about Visual Basic, it does help to have some basic knowledge of how code works. The Windows Programming course does introduce computers and programming fairly well.
I will admit that there was one time I did get a bit confused in what he was supposed to be doing. I kept going over the material trying to see what I was missing. In the end, I read ahead a little bit more and found the answer I was looking for.
The instructions are very detailed so it isn't easy to get lost or confused in the directions, but it can happen on a rare occasion. Even to someone who considers themselves a novice user of computers and fairly knowledgeable about programming code. But I am sure if you contacted the company that they would be glad to help you.
I really liked how the KidCoder Visual Basic curriculum starts at the beginning and reinforces what is learned in each chapter. That was very helpful for Jonathan (and myself). It also give you a chance to practice what you have learned in each chapter. From making buttons, to having the buttons perform actions. That's just one of the simpler things he did. They do build up in skill.
We feel that it is important to make it user friendly enough that when the child succeeds they want to do more and this curriculum would definitely fit the bill!
Now you might be asking, "What about the Game Programming?" Well, we haven't started on that portion at this point (we are on our week long camp vacation and have about a week left of the Windows Programming portion). However, I did look over it so I could give you some information about it.
KidCoder Game Programming follows the same path that Windows Programming uses. They start out with basic information to give you background and help you to understand what you are going to be doing. Again I found this very helpful.
Each chapter covers skills that will be used for the student to create their game. Then they let you practice those skills. Based on what I read while looking through this portion of the Visual Basic curriculum, it appears that the student will create several games while being able to learn the techniques that are taught through the course. I think Jonathan is going to really enjoy this one as well.
We also received the Instructional Videos that went along with this curriculum. They are definitely helpful. If you have a visual learner, then this would be a great supplement to the curriculum.
Overall, we are all pleased with this product. Darren, my husband, even helped when Jonathan would be working on this in the evenings after the kids would go to bed. (sometimes it just happened that way) He was pleased with the information given and at the detail in which it was given.
I think that I am going to work through the courses myself so that I can get a greater understanding of Visual Basic and not just what I do to help Jonathan through the courses. He will probably know more than me when this is all said and done. :)
We definitely think that this is a great curriculum choice for students wanting to learn Visual Basic for Windows and Game programming.
KidCoder Visual Basic Windows Programming is $70 for the course only
KidCoder Visual Basic Windows Programming is $85 for the course and videos
KidCoder Visual Basic Windows Programming Video (dvd) is $20
KidCoder Visual Basic Game Programming is $79 for the course only
KidCoder Visual Basic Game Programming is $85 for the course and videos
KidCoder Visual Basic Game Programming Video (dvd) is $20
There is a Bundle price for the KidCoder Visual Basic Year Pack
KidCoder VB Year Pack (Windows and Game Programming Courses ONLY) $120
KidCoder VB Year Pack (Windows and Game Programming Courses and Video $145
KidCoder VB Year Pack (Windows and Game Programming Video -dvd) $30
**On a side note** You definitely want to check and make sure your computer meets the necessary requirements to use the software appropriately. Make sure your computer has all the updates installed before you get started. Some things can be necessary and you just don't realize it. I know once we downloaded Visual Basic for our computer there were 2-3 updates that had to be installed before we began using the program. So that's just a little bit of a heads up for you.
The FAQ page has a lot of the info needed to make sure your computer system will work with the programs necessary. It is here.