Case study: A parent's perspective

September 2014

Catherine JonesCatherine Jones is an IT Project Manager from Brighton.

My eight year old daughter Natasha is currently teaching her grandmother how to use an iPad. Technology is everywhere and a big part of everyday life now. It’s second nature to most children, but the older generation are having to learn how to use it. 

Natasha has always been enthusiastic about computing. She was interested in using my ipad long before she started school and was probably two or three years old when she first began to play around on it. I showed her how to use it, though as I recall, she didn’t take much showing. She liked CBeebies sites that had memory and matching games - that type of thing. 

She has been using computers at school since reception. Her school has a large computer suite and ipads that each class has access to. She always said that her most exciting day at school was Friday when she had ICT. She started using the PC at home - to write things, or design birthday and Christmas cards. She’d often surprise me - doing things such as changing fonts. I’d look at her in amazement and ask her: “How do you know how to do that?” She’d say she had learned it at school.

Now she’s a bit older ICT now comes in to her homework quite a bit as the children at her school can choose how they present their work. Natasha uses IT resources to present projects and support her homework. She will often opt to do a poster piece of written work which she types up and prints off.

She is a member of Code Club* at school and really enjoys it. I understand there was an overwhelming response in terms of the number of children that wanted to join Code Club, so she was fortunate to get a place. She goes along once a week for an hour after school. The children use Scratch software to do programming and create their own stories, animations, games and art. Natasha loves it and recently gave me an impressive demonstration - showing me how she can animate characters and make them whizz around the screen. 

She has an older step brother and two older step sisters who all have iPads, iTouches and Kindles. She picks things up really quickly from them and then goes off to use her newly acquired skills on her own. At the moment, she really enjoys using apps and doing maths challenges.

I understand that change is on the horizon and that the new computing curriculum is being introduced in September which will replace ICT. I’m not aware of the specifics involved, but I think it’s great that computing is going to be a core part of the curriculum in primary schools. Five years old seems a very young age to be introduced to computing concepts though.

I’m convinced that leaning computing will help my daughter be successful later in life and I would certainly encourage her to study computer science further -  to GCSE, A level - even to degree level - but then I am biased! I work in IT myself. Whatever role you are in, you need IT. Whether it’s to support your business, engage with your customers or simply to order things on line - you just can’t do without it these days. 

Do you know what an algorithm is?

Yes, I understand what an algorithm is. So does Natasha. She recently explained the concept to me - that it’s all about building up a set of instructions and putting them in a certain order to get the results you want.

*Code Club is a nationwide network of volunteer-led after school coding clubs for children aged 9-11

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