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Like it or not, our kids are regularly interacting with computing devices – phones, tablets, laptops, oven timers, voice assistants, video games – and yet have such little knowledge of how they work or how to influence or manipulate the technology the enables them.  Unfortunately, because of a limited number of teachers and resources in this field, our schools are struggling to catch up too.

Having spoken at some length to Gobind Bansal – local dad and founder of Riva Learning on the need for comprehensive computer literacy – we’ve come to better understand the need for  enhancing our children’s technological journey which will in turn, serve them well through their upcoming school years and beyond.

And this is where Riva Learning comes in.  Established two years ago by Gobind (a computer scientist by training), their after school clubs, weekend classes and holiday workshops have been set up to help children learn the art of analysing problems deeply, breaking them into smaller parts and creatively applying past experience to solve them – they call it computational thinking.

But don’t be alarmed by the tech speak – all the classes and workshops are designed to be inspiring, fun and engaging as students work on real-life projects, develop at their own pace and also learn through healthy competition and collaboration.

Workshops and classes include:
– Young Inventor with Junior Robotics
Introduction to Coding using Scratch
Introduction to Coding using Python

With some fantastic testimonials under their belt already, we’re predicting the classes and workshops will fill up quickly…

The passion with which you run this business is evident and I am thankful for people like you influencing the children of our community – Shaila, parent of 8 year old.

Super well run, the warmth and genuine care in the children’s progress was evident in all interactions, including an extremely detailed and well observed report. – Maya, parent of 9 year old

 

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What to expect this Half Term (22nd – 26th October):
Create games, music, animations, apps and stories in what promises to be a hugely fun and inspiring experience for your child. From making self-driving cars and anti-theft alarms to learning how to code in Python (did we mention that YouTube and Netflix were built using Python), it’s an exciting Autumn camp line up!

Three different camps are on offer:
– Young Inventor with Junior Robotics (8-12years)
Introduction to Coding using Scratch (8-12 years)
Introduction to Coding using Python (12 – 18 years)

Ace Coding October Half Term workshops
Ages 8-12 & 12-18
Ark Atwood primary, Maida Vale W9 2JY
9am – 3pm
Limited to 6 students

Riva Learning provide all the equipment including robots, sensors, motors, laptops or craft material needed during camps.  Fruit and coconut water is also available throughout the week – bonus!

QPM’s introductory offer:

£50 off your first holiday workshop with code QPMOCT18

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BLOG POST

Founder of Riva Learning Gobind Bansal on his experience and thoughts on computers and computer coding for kids including ways to enhance your children’s computer knowledge from the comfort of your own home.  Scroll down for a read…

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Computing for Your Kids

By Gobind Bansal

We just had our second baby, 4 months ago. Over drinks with fellow local new dads @the Elgin, one of them said, “My girl needs 2 key skills for tomorrow – Mandarin and Coding”. I smiled. It’s likely that many people in your child’s life – from nanny to class teacher to Uncle Sam and Aunty Rita, all think that Coding is an essential skill for tomorrow. What do they really mean? Do our kids all have to be software developers to survive the next 50 years?

I’ll humbly attempt to answer this question, but first, let’s draw a key distinction between ‘Coding’ and ‘Computing’.  When coding, you are writing a set of instructions for a computer to follow and to do something as a result. ‘Computing’ or ‘Computer Science’ is richer, and vaster. It concerns itself with developing logical problem solving skills, understanding how a computer works, how a computer network like the Internet works, its role in our everyday life and how one can manipulate it.

25 years ago, I grew up learning maths, languages, photosynthesis, and the digestive system. Today, in addition to these very relevant life topics, my 3 year old’s life is full of computing systems. At last count, he interacts with almost 10 computing systems everyday – his light controlled night lamp, oyster card readers, Alexa, oven timers (he gets to set the timer when baking muffins with me), to name a few. How do these work, Vir, I ask, and sometimes he’ll say, “it’s magic!” with a glitter in his eye. I smile.

Our children don’t need to all become software developers, but they do need to understand about computing systems, because, much like maths and science, computers are all around them today. How wonderful if they weren’t just passive consumers, but became creators and influencers of these systems.

So, where do we start? At what age?

There is a good chance many of you have resorted to Google for answers on how to start your child’s computing journey. Your searches have probably returned a mind-boggling number of options to choose from – fancy robots, coding platforms, online courses, videos, infinite programming languages and 42. In 2014, the Department for Education (DfE) published a brilliant, new computing curriculum for schools. Unfortunately, however, we are still several years away from our schools – state and independent – offering robust computing education to our children, primarily due to a dearth of computing teachers and teaching resources.

If your kids are under 7, sit back and relax. The good news – they can build their foundations in computing at home with a little bit of your help – navigating around the computer, researching a topic online, writing a report, making a simple presentation, touch typing etc. For e.g. the next time you are baking, they could help you with the recipe by searching on youtube, creating a flyer to invite friends for their birthdays and searching Google to learn more about photosynthesis once it’s introduced in school. There are coding platforms developed for under 7s (e.g. Junior Scratch), however, in my experience, it only takes a few hours for a novice 7-year old to be on par with someone who has done Junior Scratch.

Children over 7 years of age in primary schools are ready to take their first steps towards creating with technology – making their own games, animations, stories, light sensor night lamps, and remote controlled cars! To begin, try Scratch, a visual educational platform that teaches you how to code (short overview here). I love it because it’s based on decades of research by MIT and Harvard into how kids learn, and it incorporates feedback from millions of educators and students from across the world. Simply create a login on scratch.mit.edu, click on Tips and start by trying some guided projects there. As of last week, Scratch had 10 million other children building fun projects!

Second, the world of robotics and electronics is a great one to explore, although this may be more suitable to a group environment. Find a fun, local class your kids can go to.

If your child is tech-oriented, s/he might be ready for a text based programming language like Python (yup, it is named after the famous Monty Python). Although typically introduced at secondary level, I teach Python programming to many primary school kids. It is easy to learn, yet powerful enough that companies such as Google, Facebook and Netflix use it extensively. It is also the language of choice in upcoming fields such as artificial intelligence, robotics, and cybersecurity. It’s likely that your child will need external help to learn Python; I’d look for a suitable class to get your child started.

Computing – and coding – is fun, fulfilling and character building – when I asked one of my 10 year old students what she learned that day, she said, “I learned never to give up”! I loved her response. She had been trying for hours to fix some errors in her code and almost gave up many times. But when she finally succeeded, she started dancing on her chair. She felt she was on top of the world.

Happy computing.

 

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