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6 of the Best Games to Help Your Child Code

In a rapidly developing digital world, coding is the ‘Next Big Thing’.

In September 2014, programming was introduced to the National Curriculum and is now compulsory computer learning for all children aged 5 – 16. As a parent, it can be difficult to support your child in this new area of the curriculum, of which the majority of parents are inexperienced in.

We’ve put together a list of the 6 best games to help your child develop the computational way of thinking they need to code. You might even learn something yourself!

  1. Tynker (suitable age: 5-13)

With Tynker, children can create games and mobile apps by arranging blocks of code. It allows them to use their imagination and turn their ideas into animated stories or art, keeping them enthusiastic about learning. There are different levels to the game which allow the child to develop an understanding of basic concepts before gradually introducing more advanced aspects of coding such as syntax driven programming.

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Find the game online at: https://www.tynker.com.

  1. ‘An Hour of Code’ bycode.org (suitable for any age)

The makers of this interactive online game teach children to code by enabling them to create animations of their favourite film characters. This includes ‘Code with Anna and Elsa’ from the Disney hit ‘Frozen’ and ‘Star Wars: Building a Galaxy with a Code’.

Access the games by visiting: https://code.org/learn.

  1. LEGO WeDo 2.0 (suitable age: 7-11)

Lego WeDO 2.0 is a useful starting point when children first begin to code as it’s an exciting way to learn programming where results really come to life. The innovative idea combines LEGO programming software with links to projects in the National Curriculum, encouraging your child to design their own LEGO models.

Find out more at: https://education.lego.com/en-gb/lesi/elementary/wedo-2.

  1. Erase All Kittens (suitable age: 8-13)

Erase All Kittens (EAK) is an online game in the early stages of development that has been extremely highly reviewed by its users. The game focuses on a creative story-telling method where users save kittens while learning to code HTML. If your child loves cats then this is the game for you!

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For more information on EAK, see: https://eraseallkittens.com.

  1. Scratch (suitable age: 8+)

Scratch is one of the most engaging coding games on the market. Children can create their own interactive games, holiday cards and stories, as well as share them with their friends. The only limit is their imagination!

ScratchJr is also available for beginners to programming and allows children to create characters and animate them by piecing together graphical programming blocks.

For more information about Scratch, see: https://scratch.mit.edu.

  1. Kano Computer and Coding Kit (suitable age: 8+)

Would your child like to build their own computer? With Kano they can do just that! An illustrated storybook guides children in assembling the computer and they earn rewards for coding changes to their games. By playing the game children receive an introduction to a number of programming languages such as Python and Javascript.

Find out more at: http://uk.kano.me.

What is your experience with coding? Have you any other top-tips for parents? Tell us all about it in the comments section.

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BLOG EDUCATION News

What is the ‘Asian method’ of teaching Maths?

 

What it is ‘Asian Method’ of teaching Maths?

The ‘Asian Method’ of teaching Maths, different to the way ‘we teach maths’ is also known as the ‘mastery’ approach and originates in the Far East, being used in regions such as Shanghai, Singapore and Hong Kong. It first came to England in 2014 but an additional 8,000 schools will be offered the chance to teach it after a government announcement earlier this month – meaning that half of primary schools may adopt the method.

How is it different?

The first major difference is that children would be taught as a whole class rather than being split up depending on their perceived mathematical ability. The idea is that the whole class progress at the same speed, with those who grasp concepts more easily being encouraged to deepen their understanding rather than getting ahead of classmates.

The method focuses on building a depth of understanding across all students in the class with the support of high quality textbooks. Students are encouraged to visually represent mathematical concepts and to ‘begin with the answer’ – i.e. pupils could be given the answer to a problem before working through the steps that get to it. Rather than a teacher explaining a concept and then students practicing individually, the teacher will teach pupils interactively at a more regimented pace.

 

Why is it spreading?

The reason the mastery approach is spreading is largely due to 15 year-old students in Shanghai, Singapore and Hong Kong out-performing their peers in other countries, such as the UK and the USA, in international tests.

Pros

The most significant advantage is that no pupil in the class gets left behind and the ‘less able’ are not demoralized by being placed in a ‘lower performing’ group. Theoretically, this should empower children and ensure that they all have the best chance of scoring highly and there should be less disparities between classmates’ results. It also ensures that pupils do not fall behind and then find it increasingly difficult to catch up as the academic year progresses.

Cons

The downside of a whole class progressing together is that it puts social pressure on pupils who may find the lesson more difficult. These students may feel anxious and resent their lessons. Having such a regimented system of learning may also negate creativity amongst pupils as their thinking becomes more formulaic with a group. It is also important to note that using international tests to determine ways of teaching doesn’t take into account other factors that might impact performance. For example, Maths teachers in China are trained for 5 years and more specifically to the age level they will teach, whereas training in England is much shorter.

Do you think that the Mastery Method should be introduced into our educational system or is our current system working well as it is?

Please get in touch with us via our Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to let us know your thoughts.

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BLOG EDUCATION tutoring service

Tutoring to inspire enterprising behaviour

This is a guest post from one of the founders of Clever Tykes, a series of children’s storybooks written to inspire enterprising behaviour in Key Stage 2 children. Ben Cook explains how expert tutoring helps to develop key traits in children.

 

I recently read Genie Tutors’ previous post on tutoring programmes during the summer and I’d like to explore those principles in a little more detail. I’ve accrued a lot of experience working with parents, teachers and children in Key Stage 2, particularly seven to ten years of age. The difference in attitudes of children of different backgrounds is significant, and that was, in fact, one of the primary reasons we developed the Clever Tykes books.

The series was born out of the principle that children who grow up with an enterprising role model in their family are more likely to grow up to start a successful business. The idea is that the more creativity and confidence we can instil in children, the better their life prospects. Tutoring programmes certainly have their role to play in enterprise education.

Schoolteachers do their best to provide children with a broad and well-rounded education. However, the demands of the national curriculum and having exams at every turn, puts pressure on teachers to prioritise academic subjects. This is especially true for children in secondary school and moving into Key Stage 4. This is why additional teaching with a tutor that understands the need to develop a broad range of skills is likely to separate an academically strong child from a prime candidate for a range of careers.

 

But why is enterprising behaviour so important?

Being enterprising refers to having a number of skills such as independence, resourcefulness and resilience as well as having a positive attitude towards life and its challenges. These are the characteristics that not only help a child succeed in education but in their career, especially should they wish to start a business at any stage.

 

And how can tutoring help?

Small group tutoring is a unique experience and one that helps develop these new traits. Tutors also serve to develop those skills not necessarily developed in the classroom environment. Another, often overlooked, benefit of having a tutor is that a child has a new role model in their life, focused on building a positive “can do” attitude. Clever Tykes’ research has highlighted the importance of role models in a child’s development process and a tutor represents something alternative to a parent and a teacher who can help raise aspirations and build confidence.

Children very quickly adopt the traits of those around them; it’s exactly why we’re wary of them falling in with ‘the wrong crowd’. Private tutors at Genie typically have a very positive outlook on life, work and education and having this attitude adopted by children is perfect, especially if you’re unsure how they’re obtaining it from their school experience.

The combination of developing new knowledge and skills as well as having a positive role model in their life makes having a tutor a real benefit for children of all ages. Whilst younger children are more impressionable and likely to adopt these traits more quickly, arguably it is more important that older children, closer to entering the world of work, benefit from tutoring. It shows there is never a wrong time to start tutoring to help children be more enterprising.