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Ask Slashdot: Good Homeschool Curriculum For CS??

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the ok-now-track-the-family-budget dept.

Education 364

dingo_kinznerhook writes "I grew up in a homeschooling family, and was homeschooled through high school. ( I went on to get a B.S. and M.S. in computer science; my mom has programming experience and holds bachelor's degrees in physics and math — she's pretty qualified to teach.) Mom is still homeschooling my younger brother and sister and is looking for a good computer science curriculum that covers word processing, spreadsheets, databases, intro to programming, intro to operating systems, etc. Does the Slashdot readership know of a high school computer science curriculum suitable for homeschooling that covers these topics?"

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364 comments

You don't understand what CS is (4, Informative)

Megor1 (621918) | more than 2 years ago | (#36302798)

"looking for a good computer science curriculum that covers word processing, spreadsheets, databases, intro to programming, intro to operating systems, etc. " This is not computer science (Intro to programming maybe), you are asking for a computer usage course, something that was not even allowed to count to my CS major.

Re:You don't understand what CS is (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 2 years ago | (#36302820)

Unless "databases" means relational theory and how it translates into SQL, and "operating systems" means threading concepts.

Re:You don't understand what CS is (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36303176)

In my experience, "databases" probably means Excel spreadsheets using VLOOKUP() and "operating systems" means nothing's on fire.
The corporate world is a sad place...

Re:You don't understand what CS is (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36302858)

computer science =/= word processing.
What you are talking about is just "Computing", or even basic computer skills.
I can sense a lot of offense being taken at the lack of distinction.

Re:You don't understand what CS is (0, Troll)

NotQuiteReal (608241) | more than 2 years ago | (#36302900)

Silly - CS means Creation Science.

You know, create documents, spreadsheets, humans, fake fossil history - it's all Creation, but with Science behind it!

Re:You don't understand what CS is (1, Troll)

lahvak (69490) | more than 2 years ago | (#36303060)

I don't know, writing a good word processor would certainly require a good knowledge of Computer Science. In fact, it seems to be so hard that nobody has managed to do it well so far.

Re:You don't understand what CS is (2)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 2 years ago | (#36303552)

I don't know, writing a good word processor would certainly require a good knowledge of Computer Science. In fact, it seems to be so hard that nobody has managed to do it well so far.

You've obviously never used Nota Bene.

Re:You don't understand what CS is (3, Insightful)

obarthelemy (160321) | more than 2 years ago | (#36303070)

give him a break: he's being home schooled. Which probably explains word processing being CS...

Re:You don't understand what CS is (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36303576)

The irony here is you are calling someone stupid who is being home schooled.

Re:You don't understand what CS is (1, Troll)

wozzinator (1079319) | more than 2 years ago | (#36303134)

I refuse to believe that you have a B.S. let alone an M.S. in Computer Science if you think the following should be apart of any CS curriculum in high school: word processing, spreadsheets, intro to operating systems.

(The intro to OS is in there because I'm assuming that you mean how to use Windows XP or Windows 7 and not threading, file systems, page tables, virtual memory, etc.)

Re:You don't understand what CS is (2)

captjc (453680) | more than 2 years ago | (#36303436)

I mostly agree, MS Office (or office applications in general) has no place in in CS. Aside from maybe a brief tour of the IDE at the beginning (let them choose to use an alternate environment later), CS should be application and platform agnostic.

However, as someone who was required to take an Office course in high school (purely for credits), the most important thing that people take for granted is spending a few weeks teaching typing. IMO any high school CS curriculum, should have a few weeks on typing. It may be boring, but it benefits everyone. If you can't type then you will learn. If you know how you will probably get faster. If I had a dollar for every CS and IS major I knew that couldn't type if their life depended on it, I probably could have bought a Xbox 360 and a game or two.

Then again, I also believe that typing should be taught in elementary schools and have refreshers in middle school and high school. Maybe we will have less instances of "wut u doin lol k by" in emails and instant messages.

Re:You don't understand what CS is (4, Insightful)

notKevinJohn (2218940) | more than 2 years ago | (#36303412)

Come on Slashdot, be reasonable. Maybe these topics don't represent what would be found in a traditional CS curriculum for college, but they sound like the very subjects that a pre-CS course at the high school level would be wise to teach.

Re:You don't understand what CS is (1, Insightful)

EconomyGuy (179008) | more than 2 years ago | (#36303510)

This is a silly response and demonstrates a limited understanding of the scope of your discipline and where it fits into the continuum of education. Sure, these topics are not appropriate for a college level CS course, but that doesn't mean they aren't related to computer science. To give a concrete example, consider the something as simple as basic mathematics. If OP had shown up asking for "a good mathematics curriculum covering addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division" would you have responded saying that's not "mathematics" because those topics aren't covered in college level math courses? There's no hard and fast rule that says CS topics start at college... it's all part of the the continuum of education.

CS? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36302812)

Word Processing? Spreadsheets?

Are you sure its CS that she wants to teach?

Dietel & Dietel (5, Informative)

Sonny Yatsen (603655) | more than 2 years ago | (#36302818)

As far as intro to programming goes, when I took High School Computer Science, our textbook was the Dietel & Dietel C++ How to Program. It was definitely aimed at the beginner to intermediate level programmers and did a pretty good job at explaining fundamentals of programming to a bunch of high school sophomores and making it understandable. As I recall, you can probably go through several chapters per class because it's not so dense and impenetrable that you need bash your way through.

Here's a link to the 7th edition: http://www.amazon.com/How-Program-7th-Paul-Deitel/dp/0136117260 [amazon.com]
However, there are plenty of copies of 6th editions floating around for pretty cheap. If I recall correctly, copies of the 5th edition are even available for download for free, which makes the curriculum that much more cost-effective.

Anyway, best of luck, hope that helps.

Re:Dietel & Dietel (5, Informative)

jd (1658) | more than 2 years ago | (#36303002)

Good advice.

My thought: It doesn't matter where you learn or how you learn, the fundamentals are universal.

AQA [aqa.org.uk] offers a suggested schooling curriculum and past papers for the exams they set. Sure it's UK not US, but C is C, HTML is HTML, MS Office is MS Office and small furry creatures from alpha centauri make great soup if you put them in the blender for long enough.

Re:Dietel & Dietel (1, Flamebait)

Abreu (173023) | more than 2 years ago | (#36303340)

However, this text teaches has nothing on creationism or the genealogy of the hebrews, and therefore it's useless for the homeschooling crowd.

Re:Dietel & Dietel (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36303538)

However, this text teaches has nothing on creationism or the genealogy of the hebrews, and therefore it's useless for the homeschooling crowd.

Wow, your response is pathetic. I wasn't homeschool'd but every single homeschooler I have encountered was either more knowledgable than I or on par and they always scored very well on their ACTs. And I supposedly went to some the better public schools in the nation. Our public educational system is a mess so I wouldn't put down those who choose to use something other than it.

I'm surprised at how intolerant the whole slashdot crowd is.

Public School? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36302828)

Seriously? CS Majors usually have enough trouble meshing with social norms. No one needs a double handicap.

Re:Public School? (2)

kerohazel (913211) | more than 2 years ago | (#36303434)

Right, because CS geeks are well-appreciated in public school peer groups, and won't be ostracized at all. If you're the kind of person who can only learn social skills in school, you probably won't learn them there anyway... either that or you'll only learn a twisted version of what "proper" behavior is.

Homeschool? (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36302832)

Are you a Republican or something?

Re:Homeschool? (0, Troll)

MindlessAutomata (1282944) | more than 2 years ago | (#36302854)

I didn't realize Republicans had the monopoly on higher-quality education.

Re:Homeschool? (1, Troll)

icebraining (1313345) | more than 2 years ago | (#36303048)

70% of homeschooled children are in very religious families. Assuming that a homeschooler is republican isn't absurd.

Re:Homeschool? (1)

Korin43 (881732) | more than 2 years ago | (#36303196)

70% of homeschooled children are in very religious families. Assuming that a homeschooler is republican isn't absurd.

What a coincidence, 70% of people also make up statistics whenever they need them in an argument!

Re:Homeschool? (2)

PCM2 (4486) | more than 2 years ago | (#36303368)

The actual figure is 33 percent, according to the 2001 U.S. census [census.gov], or 42 percent if you count the families that cited "morality" as their reason.

Re:Homeschool? (0)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 2 years ago | (#36303058)

I liken home-schooling parents to the type of douchebags who would push athletic or acting dreams on their children, depriving said children of socialization and normal lives.

Those kids will grow up to be out of touch with reality, thinking they're the center of their tiny universe while being hopeless at everything other than their field of speciality. The ones who don't have a string of failed relationships will have to settle for some cold, Eastern-European, money-grubbing trophy spouse. The ones who are home-schooled for religious reasons suffer the worst fate of all.

Home-schooling is one of the cancers that is killing America's youth. Man up and live in the real world, or strive to be a bed-wetting momma's boy for the rest of your life. It's your call.

Re:Homeschool? (4, Interesting)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | more than 2 years ago | (#36303158)

I had to be home schooled for a few years because of Cancer. Basically I'd miss so much school because of chemo and sickness I couldn't qualify as a full time student.

Then I went back, same friends as before but much more advanced math, science and reading levels. I was doing math, science and reading at high school graduation levels from 4th grade on.

And now I work in public education, no douchebag parents, no being out of touch with reality, no religion.

Re:Homeschool? (1)

bean.java (1258326) | more than 2 years ago | (#36303504)

First off.....Congratulations on your surviving cancer. Let no further comment from me detract that congratulations. Second though...... If you grew up in texas i wouldn't be a bit surprised by the jump in "skills" that your "Home and or Hospital" schooling provided. My little bro is in 9th grade now and is now getting into algebra. In MN Algebra was 7th grade math(required class).

Re:Homeschool? (4, Insightful)

Tiger4 (840741) | more than 2 years ago | (#36303212)

Those kids will grow up to be out of touch with reality, thinking they're the center of their tiny universe while being hopeless at everything other than their field of speciality.

... much like un-informed, self-righteous, snarky, cranio-rectal Slashdot writers. Get out of the basement much do ya?

Because of course you know, it is possible for a home-schooled child to become socialized with OTHER home schooled children. Or with other people in the community around them as they go about their daily lives in their neighborhood, or at the market, or gas station, or workplace, or parks, or beaches, or if they are religious, at Church. Because you know, people who go to all of those places actually speak to each other, and thus learn social skills. Unlike public school children who learn their social skills... in much the same way, actually. With the added pleasure of school imposed artificial hierarchical dominance games into the mix.

Re:Homeschool? (4, Informative)

Megaport (42937) | more than 2 years ago | (#36303440)

Those kids will grow up to be out of touch with reality, thinking they're the center of their tiny universe while being hopeless at everything other than their field of speciality.

You have no idea what you are talking about. I homeschooled my kids and they have a larger and more diverse circle of friends than you can possibly imagine. Unlike school kids, their friends are also from a wider variety of ages because my children didn't experience the age-range apartheid that you would consider 'normal' where the majority of the children you would interact with each day were within 12 months of your own age. My daughter's 16th birthday party had more than 70 kids and 30 adults on the guest list - and these really are close friends who she has spent more quality time with growing up than anything you get out in the school yard between classes.

I'm a software engineer, but for university the kids have gone into fields as widely different as biotech, justice/law, arts/language and design. One of them went and lived in Beijing for a year to immerse herself in the culture/language when she turned 18. Another has travelled to Japan, China and the USA regularly since they were 17 years old. At 13 years old, one of the kids went and stayed with a friend's family in the USA for three months - even saved up the airfare on her own by doing babysitting around the neighborhood.

I guess that I wouldn't agree with the same homeschooling that you don't agree with - but unfortunately for you the reality of what the vast majority of homeschoolers are doing has nothing to do with your narrow prejudiced ideas. For every homeschooling parent who is keeping their kids in the basement, I'll show you 10 school kids who are wasting their lives and potential without any help from their parents at all.

It's your call.

--D

Re:Homeschool? (1)

Alaska Jack (679307) | more than 2 years ago | (#36303456)

Nice try at discrediting opponents of home-schooling, by pretending to be a giant douchebag.

Your one mistake: NO ONE is as big a stereotypical, reactionary, thoughtless douchebag as you're pretending to be. In the future, your tactic would be more believable if you dialed it down a notch or two.

Just a tip.

    - aj

Re:Homeschool? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36303490)

Because going to public school guarantees an ability to have normal relationships, of course. *rolls eyes*

—26-year-old public-school educated student w/B.S. in computer science, a day job programming, and 0 relationships past or present, failed or otherwise

Re:Homeschool? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36303296)

Worse than that: a home-schooled curriculum isn't vetted against what is taught in state public schools. They might get the wrong brain-washing. Better do a background check on them.

Avoid the office suite stuff (1)

Dyinobal (1427207) | more than 2 years ago | (#36302836)

Avoiding the office suite stuff, would generally be a good idea. It's generally far less important to know how to use and office suite than to know how to actually use a computer. Let's face it computers are important for what they give us access to today not for their ability to make nifty graphs. Find something that teaches your kids how to research, effectively using the internet. How to find a solution to a problem in an area they really don't understand and how to do so with out taking two weeks to do it. In short 'How strong is your google fu?'

Re:Avoid the office suite stuff (1)

bmxeroh (1694004) | more than 2 years ago | (#36303040)

I agree with pretty much everything you say except for the avoiding the office suite stuff. Truthfully I haven't gone a day in probably 5 years that I haven't messed with a spreadsheet, and the fact remains, the rest of the people in the office uses stuff like this daily as well. Also in my experience, a lot of C-level execs like the nifty graphs, if not just so they don't have to deal with the actual numbers behind them. I've actually made it a requirement for everyone that reports to me to become some sort of proficient with Office, just because the rest of the world uses it so much and it will be that much easier to get a job over the next person that didn't bother to learn it.

Re:Avoid the office suite stuff (2)

astrodoom (1396409) | more than 2 years ago | (#36303056)

While I agree with the "google fu" sentiment, office has been a high selling point on just about every internship/entry level position I've held. Especially if you combine it with a bit of programming knowledge and a VBA object reference. I've had quite a few managers impressed with a simple VB script when it took their 100+ csv files and made nice graphs of them for a proposal or report. I've also discovered that if you have a good enough knowledge of the suite, you end up increasing productivity all around. For example, showing someone how to use proper formatting tools rather than the spacebar can save a lot of time for everyone who's working on the document.

Re:Avoid the office suite stuff (2)

crazycheetah (1416001) | more than 2 years ago | (#36303182)

I'm going to second this on a limited scale.

I took like 4 Office classes throughout High School (only one of which was not the exact same as the others--multiple high schools and cheating the system). The only thing I remember from any of them is what some of the concepts are called, which only makes going looking on Google or elsewhere for them that much easier. And really, if the student learns well this way, they should just be given a list of those concepts by name, and then taught how to find what they need to know on that topic. That should honestly include more than just the internet, though. Teach them how to use the library, and some times, you might need to invest in some books (I've got a couple of books that run through different programming and Office tasks, just because there are topics where it is much easier to find it in the book than on the internet, and those all come in handy for me at work now).

Personally, that's how I taught myself programming (I took C++ courses in high school as easy things that I would already know all of, which worked; college then gets a bit more challenging for types like me). I figured out what concepts I would need to know and found information on them from the Internet and books. I actually took that same approach throughout school, too--I would skim the textbooks, get the concepts and learn them on my own through the textbook, internet, and other books, making class lectures just a review time for me, usually from a few subjects behind where I was in my own study... except I sucked at getting homework actually complete then, because I was too busy getting ahead of everyone else and the homework was already boring and old news to me. The essays and crap that some teachers liked to throw in at the end of the year for a significant portion of the overall grade was always easy, though, because I was already done learning everything (and more) a while back.

But not everyone can learn that way, either. Some people need the more solid, clear direction. I personally think that those people will still benefit a lot from being taught how to find it, but they also need more clear direction on what to learn, when to learn, etc. Some people might be autodidact, but those like me in that regard seem to be the more uncommon types; most people need to be taught by someone else.

Good dictionary for /. editors??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36302866)

"GoodHomeschool Curriculum For CS??"

I don't see GoodHomeschool in any major dictionary. Is it a trade name perhaps???

Seriously, find out what's on the AP tests and get a curriculum that puts your kid on a path to pass it if he wants to take more than one year of computer science before college.

Another idea:
Talk to your local community college or university and ask for recommendations.

programming practice (4, Informative)

icknay (96963) | more than 2 years ago | (#36302868)

For little live code practice problems in python and java there's http://codingbat.com/ [codingbat.com]

There's Google's complete free python class at http://code.google.com/edu/languages/google-python-class/ [google.com]

For a huge library of cs assignments, try the nifty assignments archive at http://nifty.stanford.edu/ [stanford.edu]

Re:programming practice (5, Informative)

Sonny Yatsen (603655) | more than 2 years ago | (#36302906)

Don't Forget MIT's OpenCourseWare Intro to Computer Science lectures. It might move at a faster pace than for a high school student, but it should give your mother some idea as to how to structure the lessons and concepts.
http://ocw.mit.edu/courses/electrical-engineering-and-computer-science/6-00-introduction-to-computer-science-and-programming-fall-2008/video-lectures/ [mit.edu]

Re:programming practice (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36303326)

I used all four of these what I used to tutor for homeschool families. I heartily second these.

Give them a system they can hack (3, Interesting)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 2 years ago | (#36302902)

Give your kids a system they can hack -- give them the ability to touch any part of the system they want, and your ability to teach them about programming and CS will be greatly enhanced. The last thing you should want is to teach your children that there are some parts of their computer or computer science that are off limits to them, or that they can only touch if they work for some large corporation.

Re:Give them a system they can hack (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36303488)

Give your kids a system they can hack -- give them the ability to touch any part of the system they want, and your ability to teach them about programming and CS will be greatly enhanced. The last thing you should want is to teach your children that there are some parts of their computer or computer science that are off limits to them, or that they can only touch if they work for some large corporation.

I do this and all they want to know is what the NWN admin password is....

Best recommendations... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36302904)

I'd recommend checking out the open coursewares for colleges. Most Computer Science stuff isn't really covered in HS in my experience so it's college-level material in certain respects anyway. MIT has a great website that can be used: ocw.mit.edu and there are materials for courses, their outlines, assignments, ets. and this could easily be toned down or tailored for use at home. Other colleges like Oxford University have open courswares and podcasts as well. The audio/visual elements also help as they can target visual/auditory learners. If you want to learn all the details of spreadsheets/wordprocessing/databases, there's some books (ex: http://www.amazon.com/Microsoft-Office-2010-Introductory-Cashman/dp/1439078386/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1306883348&sr=1-1) by Shelley Cashman that cover everything in VERY fine detail (to my annoyance) but it's very thorough and you have pictures, walkthroughs, etc. The best programming introduction I've found is at the beginning of the book called "Hacking: The Art of Exploitation" http://www.amazon.com/Hacking-Art-Exploitation-CDROM-HACKING/dp/B001TKJ92U/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1306883419&sr=1-2) The rest of the book is WAY too advanced but the first chapter or so -- if you can snag it online or somewhere -- is a great intro to pseudo code and structures. I'd recommend C++ or Java for programming and the best books for that are really the Sam's series. They have LOTS of examples and doing the work through doing examples is how you learn. There's the curriculum in one book right for you! Those things could easily be combined for a great course/year. Best of luck!

spreadsheets and word-processing? (1)

fish waffle (179067) | more than 2 years ago | (#36302908)

Are you sure your mom is qualified to teach CS?

Ok, maybe too harsh, that might be fine for HS. But most university CS curricula start by teaching you a programming language---how to do structured program, incrementally adding features and complexity. I don't see why HS should be so different, it's not like it's difficult if you're remotely suited to the topic. Why not give your siblings a leg up on the competition, check out major university CS programs and start from there---from experience, even grade early HS students can master these concepts in small enough doses.

Apps != CS (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36302918)

You have a BS & MS in CS and put Word Processing in a CS Curriculum?

If you really want them to start learning some basic CS concepts and programming, look up "How to think like a Computer Scientist" from Green Tree Press ( http://www.greenteapress.com ) in either the Python or Java version. They use a free license so you can check it out before dropping money on a dead-tree version if you want it. Focuses more on concepts than syntax.

If you want to get them interested in programming & engineering in general, an Arduino may be a good choice.

Re:Apps != CS (1)

WATist (902972) | more than 2 years ago | (#36303032)

While Word Processing is not CS, it something pretty necessary for college.

Re:Apps != CS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36303232)

Necessary for college? My 7th grader needs it about every week for a project, and that's in a public school. The project she was working on yesterday had to look like a magazine article. Possible without a word processor, but not anywhere near as easy or fast. At this point, she knows more about the text formatting options than I do.

They should ask you... (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36302924)

Don't you know, with a masters degree, something about what goes into the field?

Your mother is already qualified to and is teaching computer science, directly by not directly teaching it. Have her teach them about logic and calculus, i guess. What a strange question, really.

I think you are looking for IT or CIS not CS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36302936)

"word processing, spreadsheets, databases, intro to programming, intro to operating systems" exactly what my university has as requirements for Computer Information System degree which is part of the business school rather than the science school.

MIT Open CourseWare (1)

devleopard (317515) | more than 2 years ago | (#36302956)

http://ocw.mit.edu/courses/electrical-engineering-and-computer-science/ [mit.edu] would be a good starting point. Advanced? Yes. The beauty of home schooling is that the curriculum can meet the needs of the student, not the lowest common denominator.

Re:MIT Open CourseWare (1, Funny)

Obfuscant (592200) | more than 2 years ago | (#36303066)

The beauty of home schooling is that the curriculum can meet the needs of the student, not the lowest common denominator.

When you are home schooling just two kids, one of them will ALWAYS be the lowest common denominator. One of them will also always be below the class average in grades, and below the class average in IQ.

Much better to be batch-schooled, your odds of being above average are better.

Re:MIT Open CourseWare (2)

treeves (963993) | more than 2 years ago | (#36303142)

I take it you didn't do so well in statistics and probability yourself.

Re:MIT Open CourseWare (1)

Obfuscant (592200) | more than 2 years ago | (#36303200)

I take it you didn't do so well in statistics and probability yourself.

Can you explain how one person cannot help but be below the average of anything when you have a population of just two? Unless, of course, the two are the same, and then neither will be above average. Sounds just as bad.

Re:MIT Open CourseWare (1)

buddyglass (925859) | more than 2 years ago | (#36303468)

Explain why the odds of being in the bottom half in the batch-school environment are any different than in the two-student environment.

IT vs CS, not the same thing... (1)

TiggertheMad (556308) | more than 2 years ago | (#36303186)

How about some Knuth? Because that would be some muthafuckin' kick ass home school CS curriculum.

Troll? (3, Insightful)

Spazmania (174582) | more than 2 years ago | (#36302958)

Kids home-schooled into the high school level that don't already have competence with word processors and spreadsheets? A guy with a MS in CS who talks about word processing in the same sentence as computer science? If he wanted to push more buttons he'd have explained that his mom thought Linux was for commies. Seriously, don't feed the troll.

Re:Troll? (2)

dcollins (135727) | more than 2 years ago | (#36303022)

I'm inclined to agree. Quite puzzling to make sense of it.

I would like to know what schools the OP and mother got their multiple degrees from.

Re:Troll? (0)

niado (1650369) | more than 2 years ago | (#36303148)

Most universities have a GE requirement for a course in basic computer usage that goes over spreadsheets, word processing, how to navigate in Windows etc. etc. This is not 'computer science', but generally considered very useful information. Most kids will not be going into computer science as a career, but pretty much everyone will need to know word processing and spreadsheets to some extent, so I do not feel that a quick introduction to these tools would be a bad idea for any student in high school.

Since these kids are being home-schooled they have the option to take courses in what interests them that may not be offered in public school. If they have a strong interest in computers then maybe they should take a course in computational math or algorithm development or whatever, but if they have no interest in it then that stuff is not really going to be useful down the road. You also do not want to just throw kids into deep science without giving them something they can work with to spark some interest. Most kids who exhibit computer-nerdly leanings would have a lot more fun with something like an intro to programming course rather than a course in computer science theory. Programming or something else a little hands-on would also cultivate more interest in the field than something they would see as just another math course.

Re:Troll? (2, Interesting)

uofitorn (804157) | more than 2 years ago | (#36303118)

In the submitter's defense, a CS degree from one university to the next can differ wildly (although to hold a M.S.. well.. maybe it was from Devry). My friend and I both entered the CS curriculum at different state schools. Mine was in the top tier, his wasn't. He learned how to program C++ his first year. I was told that we were expected to know the language in whatever course we were taking, and if not, to be able to learn it quickly enough to take the course. We weren't to be taught programming. We started with the CLR algorithms book our second semester along with linear algebra and all the other associated mathematics courses.

Later on I returned to school to finish my M.S. while I was employed with another, less prestigious, university because the tuition was free and the courses were within walking distance during work hours. The curriculum was incredibly easy. A favorite anecdote of mine is from my first graduate course I took there. Since I was used to the level of work required from my undergraduate education, I put in an incredible amount of time on my first project. Thinking it was still subpar and prepared to receive a failing grade, I was shocked when the professor handed back my graded assignment and whispered to me "nice job".

Re:Troll? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36303292)

I doubt the person asking the question a troll. The curriculum mandated by the government and followed by the local high school is probably the troll. Skills like using a word processor, spreadsheet software, MS Access, and Powerpoint are seen as 'computer stuff', like CS is 'computer stuff', and may even be a pre-requisite for actual CS courses. It's not totally useless, since a good teacher will introduce students to more computer-sciency things like making their own web pages(with html), how DBs are structured, and maybe even some Python.

He sounds like he's looking for lesson plans, assignments, and resources that cover the topics the government requires. Even better if they all go together, so what a student learns from one lesson flows into the next ones. Since it's homeschooling, the two students will likely breeze through the boring 'learn to use MS Office' stuff and spend more time exploring what interests them.

Take a look at what resources your state/province has available, and what online resources are used by local teachers. There could just be a set of mediocre books, but you might find something useful for homeschooling.

CompSci or practical programming, use? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36302976)

Are you looking to teach Computer Science or practical use (wp, spreadsheet, office, etc) or practical programming? These are three very different things.
Computer Science is a whole lotta theory and in-depth background with a bit of programming required. Basic practical computer usage skills (computer literacy) will depend on the environment the home schooler is going to use (mac, windoze, linux, etc). A really good literacy curriculum would include introduction to all three so people would know the difference. For programming, hardware, etc, you should look into the Arduino based kits like SparkFun Inventor Kit (http://www.sparkfun.com/products/10173). This gets kids of all ages doing basic programming using quick feedback projects - you jump quickly to making LEDs blink, servos twitch, etc, rather than spending lots of time learning about the abstracts of for-loops, etc. The programming details are learned naturally in the process of making something move, blink, beep. You can also move up to robotics pretty easily. Robotics is also a good way to introduce programming as a project-based experience. There are several secondary and college programs using this approach (CMU, Myro, etc). Some use it to teach AI concepts without requiring 3 semesters of programming first.

Students learn from each other, esp in CS (1)

theswade (2020510) | more than 2 years ago | (#36303004)

If you really want to give your children a good education in CS, send them to high school with other children. I have learned at least as much from other students as I have from teachers in CS. By all means supplement this education at home. But if you're their only teacher and classmate, their exposure will be extremely limited. And the fact that you think using word processors and spreadsheets is a pillar of CS hints that you might not be qualified to be their sole instructor in this area.

Don't do it (4, Insightful)

Kittenman (971447) | more than 2 years ago | (#36303030)

Tell your mum to teach the kids how to write a paper (as in, essay) and how to think things through (maths - logic, thinking skills). CS, such as it is, is not as important as those subjects. Certainly not at high school level.

I can't tell you the number of times I've seen badly written, unclear, badly formatted reports, papers, recommendations, audits from graduates who may have excellent CS skills but can't string sentences together to put over an idea.

So I'm a grammar Nazi. We're in an exact business. Be exact in putting out ideas. And please don't reply to this with "your welcome"...

Re:Don't do it (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36303092)

your welcome

Re:Don't do it (0)

chispito (1870390) | more than 2 years ago | (#36303222)

And please don't reply to this with "your welcome"...

Why would anyone reply with "your welcome," for any reason other than to annoy you? You are the one offering the advice.

I learned by taking apart BASIC games... (2)

VortexCortex (1117377) | more than 2 years ago | (#36303052)

CS is more than just how to code, but honestly: Learning to write a bit of working code first helps loads.

I taught my 11 year old brother how to code in C, C++, Java, SQL, JavaScript, (he's now 20, and learning Perl & Python on his own).

He didn't get the theory until he could compile stuff and play with real working examples (as I did), and for him, everything we needed was in The Really Big Index. [oracle.com] Everything from the concept of Objects and variables, to arrays, branches, algorithms, GUIs, concurrency, graphics, client / servers, etc -- After the first two trails he was studying all by himself, and mastering the programming part of CS. After Java, C/C++ and JavaScript were nothing more than learning the syntax and standard libraries. We installed PostgreSQL, and he picked up SQL in two weeks. I'm helping him write a new scripting language for an existing game engine to learn compiler design -- He's beyond his fellow students, and sometimes even the CS professor in many areas simply due to experience.

As far as tests go -- I don't know about that. Tests are bogus anyhow. Have them come up with a reasonable project that they can complete and learn by doing. You can get a curriculum and do course work, but first get them coding (also note: if they don't give a damn about writing code, you will never make them want to -- Good programmers are born not made).

Uhhh, seriously?? (2)

casings (257363) | more than 2 years ago | (#36303078)

Is it just me or is there something fishy going on here? Can't decide if this guy is a troll or not.

I went to a real high school and learned to program in my free time by myself. Just get them a computer and either let them come up with projects to do or give them an assignment. Seriously, its pretty easy to learn shit on your own nowadays and a person who is home schooled should know this.

Besides that, what if their passion isn't in computer science? It most certainly isn't for everyone, and I find the only good ones are ones who actually want to do it.

The OP reeks of bullshit.

Re:Uhhh, seriously?? (1)

Steauengeglase (512315) | more than 2 years ago | (#36303304)

Agreed. It does seem a bit fishy. But if we are going to bite, I guess I would suggest K&R C and a good book on discrete math.

I wish someone had suggested K&R C to me in the beginning instead of mucking my way through more complicated languages. It is compact, dense and the exercises do the job. And discrete math, well I lucked out and it was one of the easy maths for my major (history), but it ended up being invaluable (ended up writing code for a living). It is one of those things they really should teach in high school (at least they didn't in mine).

As far as Office and that jazz, just spend a couple hours on YouTube. There are some great tutorials on how to use Excel. As far as OSes are concerned, unless you plan on building one, general usage is the best teacher.

if you REALLY want CS emulate an HS that offers CS (1)

Browzer (17971) | more than 2 years ago | (#36303086)

Forget about it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36303094)

The most important thing is to get him laid. Take him to european countries for as many months as you can legally stay for, and force him to approach girls and women again and again.

Re:Forget about it (4, Funny)

syousef (465911) | more than 2 years ago | (#36303360)

The most important thing is to get him laid. Take him to european countries for as many months as you can legally stay for, and force him to approach girls and women again and again.

So the plan is if he gets rejected often enough, he'll just spontaneously turn into a computer programmer???

carnegie mellon or MIT (2)

bl8n8r (649187) | more than 2 years ago | (#36303130)

both places offer online courses. perhaps your mom can glean some direction from them.

http://oli.web.cmu.edu/openlearning/
http://ocw.mit.edu/courses/

I'm such a troll for writing this. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36303164)

School (High-School specifically) is a social experience, you learn to interact with other people, this has now been taken away from you..

Again sorry for the troll, I have no good input.

Re:I'm such a troll for writing this. (1)

KYPackrat (52094) | more than 2 years ago | (#36303302)

Yup, you're a troll. You are also ignorant.

High school taught me that the jocks were invincible (even when they lose), that tenure is more important than competence, and that it's easy to snow HS English teachers with BS. I was very lucky to have one brilliant teacher who told me "you're a big fish in a small pond; don't dare think you'll just take college." (He was right; I lost a National Merit full ride fair and square.)

OTOH, Number One Son has more friends than I did at the time, is doing better academically, and is generally a more rounded individual than I was. His sister is slightly ahead of his stats at the same age...

There are homeschooling "protect my little darlings at all cost", although in my experience they tend to end up more at heavily-religious private schools. The homeschoolers I know have trouble with keeping the socialization limited, not with never getting it.

Re:I'm such a troll for writing this. (2)

Abreu (173023) | more than 2 years ago | (#36303376)

High school taught me that the jocks were invincible (even when they lose), that tenure is more important than competence, and that it's easy to snow HS English teachers with BS.

So essentially, HS prepared you for real life?

iTunesU (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36303188)

iTunesU has full college courses from all over the country. The Stanford classes are great for CS.

A+/Linux+/MCSE (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36303246)

Educate and get certifications that some companies give credence to when hiring.

Computer Science curriculum (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36303250)

That includes spreadsheets and word processing? I'm guessing your Mom isn't as intelligent and as good a teacher as you think she is if you think CS includes learning to type and use spreadsheets.

Send them to public school (1)

pak9rabid (1011935) | more than 2 years ago | (#36303308)

Seriously. As bad as /. makes it sound, you really do develop good people skills and are generally liked more by the general public after having mastered dealing with bullies, idiots, know-it-alls, etc (assuming they're not one of the aforementioned characters). Good people skills are infinitely more valuable than anything school will teach you.

Re:Send them to public school (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36303466)

Yah, because every person we come across in life who doesn't have good people skills and who is generally less liked by the general public was home-schooled.

or not.

But yes, good people skills are infinitely more valuable than anything school can offer - so is the ability to think for your self.

as you've seen by now... (1)

Tiger4 (840741) | more than 2 years ago | (#36303354)

Computer Science is not Word Processing. Office skill are important, but they aren't Comp Sci. Back in the old days, Computer Science was part of the Business department curriculum (at least it was in my High School), but it quickly spawned off to its own program in Science and went from there.

You need a two pronged approach. The first is word processing, spreadsheets, and some graphics. Good basic computer user skills. Gets the kids over their fear factor and gets them using the tool. From there you can branch to bookeeping or desktop publishing or Photoshop graphics or whatever.

Then you back that up with the underpinnings of good procedural and algorithmic skills and knowledge. It could be as simple as How to write a recipe for hot dogs or How to change a light bulb. No computer necessary in the early stages, you just want them in the frame of mind to get good at putting steps together and phrasing them well to get to a good result. Think of it as programming for the H.Sap2 processor (seriously, try it. Writing good directions isn't easy). After that, you are ready to introduce formalized language and coding concepts, then real languages like java, C, HTML, SQL, javascript, etc. How to make the computer do what YOU want it to do.

If you are basing this on MS Office, there is VBScript and Visual Basic. Useful tools, and it is all built in. But of course you have to be careful

Hostage down! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36303370)

When I first read the title I thought we were going to be discussing some Counter Strike tips and tricks. Yo ass wuz home schooled bizatch!

Computer literacy is what youre after... (2)

metalmaster (1005171) | more than 2 years ago | (#36303384)

When I was in high school we had a comprehensive Office 2003 textbook that covered MOUS objectives for each of the core office applications. That textbook was published by Thompson Course Technologies. Im not sure if they have been bought out or changed in that time, but I found a Cengage textbook [cengage.com] that covers the material for 2010. The book I studied from explained a particular concept, applied that concept, and reviewed that concept. Every few concepts was followed by a test. My instructor followed the method provided by the book, and it worked well.

Use a similar approach with programming. Find a suitable starting language and find a book that follows the concept-tutorial method. To make things a bit more challenging in this area my instructor gave us custom projects that went outside the scope of the objective text, but still relied on lessons we had learned

College Board AP CS? (1)

billrp (1530055) | more than 2 years ago | (#36303392)

Yes I know, the College Board is Big Business, but there's a well-defined curriculum. And it got my daughter out of having to take some kind of "Intro to Computer Science" as a college freshman. However I'm not sure if home-schoolers are into AP classes.

Functional programming (1)

incripshin (580256) | more than 2 years ago | (#36303394)

First, office suite applications are not computer science. If you want to teach the CS version of word processing, teach them LaTeX. In the meantime, I recommend something that I didn't do: start with a functional language like Scheme (I started with K&R). I TA'd for a Java intro class and it never went well. All the PL (programming language) grad students I know hate C++, and that leaves Python, Ruby, and the functional languages.

Scheme is pretty simple, and probably appropriate for HS-level coursework. One of my intro classes was with Scheme and I liked it (we used the wizard book, a friend of mine had The Little Schemer at his school). I've heard good arguments for using functional languages for introductory courses, but I don't really remember them :(.

Setup a company online (idea for your training) (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36303408)

And build the entire "information system" and processes for it.

Here? Well, here, You have to *THINK* here, and very well (especially on the DB tables designs & setups) - consider it your livelyhood in fact, that it's really YOUR company that's "on the line" here.

You'll have to start from the 'foundations' though, in OS's security, networking the machines, and then you can move onto the DB design, & actual SQL work (access is good enough for small systems up to 25 users or so typically, but I'd probably use MySQL for better 'scaling' since it's free too & widely used in WAMP (Windows, Apache, MySQL, PHP) setups)... good long term foundation for practice for you.

Heh, this "brings back memories" for me, from as far back as 1997 on other forums:

I've told young CSC students this when they're around their junior year or so (by then, they are basically competent comp. sci. pros, only lacking the sheepskin) and when they go out to go job hunting:

Build an app you can SHOW to your interviewers, something they can try (be it a DB driven website for ordering mock products OR real ones, OR, an application written in the "classic languages" like C/C++, Object Pascal, VB or .NET dialects, etc./et al)...

I state that, because MANY will ask you "what have you been doing with yourself OUTSIDE of the 'std. curriculum' of the classroom in academia?" which is QUITE A VALID QUESTION - most of them know 1 thing is why:

To be DECENT at CSC or even CIS/MIS? You have to have "lived it" for a bit... even by "simulation"! Especially for relatively NEW folks to it!

At least it gives you something to show, and shows you have a genuine enthusiasm for the field, and that you at least somewhat KNOW what you're doing. Good practice too... think about it.

It's also a GOOD solid "long term project" that will "get your skills up" (I did it thru the mid 1990's - early 21 century in fact, in freeware/shareware... it also landed my work as part of a commercially sold & highly regarded program to this very day no less, & paid decently too!)

It may even "workout" as a possible side income for you, IF you have an actual good idea for say, that DB driven website (and you'll learn how to secure it too IF you're smart as well... great experience, with possible FUTURE PAYOFFS too, bonus!).

Hey - If I can do it, or did it, and I had it "payoff" in monies & other things for my resume too that worked out QUITE well?

Hey - So can you!

(Anyone can, it's just setting your heart on it and having a good idea (hopefully you genuinely ENJOY this field/art & science too - makes life MUCH better when you like what you're doing for income!))

APK

P.S.=> Fact is - Though that all MIGHT not be QUITE what you're looking for, but I almost guarantee it will help you, long-term, especially for job seeking later, AND, so that you have a "feel" for what information systems are like...

Which it actually sounds like it's really CIS/MIS (information systems) work you're leaning towards really from the apps you noted!

(Been doing that as my "income" for nearly 17 yrs. now is why I state that - good money, steadiest most prevalent work there is in the comp. sci. related realm really, which makes nothing but sense, because EVERYONE has information, nobody has it the "exact same as the next guy", so you have to do 'translations' of data (migrations from 1 format to another etc., be that Excel spreadsheet data to Access DB's, text data imports and mgt. of the data itself doing datatype conversions, etc. (not as hard as it sounds, but, it IS WORK)))... apk

Also: Berkeley, Stanford, bootstrapworld.org (1)

andromeda1 (2218934) | more than 2 years ago | (#36303482)

In addition to MIT and CMU, which have already been mentioned, Berkeley and Stanford have their introductory CS courses on youtube (and iTunes.) I particularly like Stanford's CS106 with Mehran Sahami. If you want something more middle-school-ish (or scheme-ish) and connected to algebra and functions, check out http://www.bootstrapworld.org/ [bootstrapworld.org] (founded by a professor at Brown) (Seeing all of those parentheses reminds me of the book that taught me Lisp, David Touretzky's Lisp: A Gentle Introduction to Symbolic Computation, PDF at http://www.cs.cmu.edu/~dst/LispBook/ [cmu.edu], which should really be brought back and updated for DrScheme!)

Lets Not Forget Microsoft's Contribution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36303532)

Small Basic is a great free introduction to Programming that Microsoft gives away. I was looking for some GWBasic stuff for my jr. and I found Small Basic. Whoot.
http://www.4boca.com/?p=66

Home schooling is not a joke. (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36303536)

I have used these successfully when home schooling my children for any of the Microsoft Office products.

http://www.technokids.com

How about a normal school? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36303542)

Then have your kids grow up normal and not some home-schooled weirdo?

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