WARNING: This post contains a fair amount of parental boasting.  Sometimes you just can’t help yourself.

After months of prodding, I finally convinced my 9 year old son that he should start coding.  He’s a fantastic student, part of the GATE program, and loves video games.  I see a lot of myself in him.

We have a set block of time every week called Daddy-Son Day (DSD).  I have something similar with my daughter too.  So we decided for DSD we would start learning to code.

I looked around for something online, but wasn’t thrilled with a lot of the courses available.  So I decided to create my own.  Maybe I should write this curriculum someday or put together a series of YouTube videos.  But here’s where we started.

HTML Elements and Attributes

In order to teach him about the concept of syntax, I decided to start him on some basic markup with HTML.  We talked about what an element is.  And I gave him this canvas to begin his exploration.

<html>
  <body>
     <!-- put your elements here -->
  </body>
</html>

I gave him a list of HTML elements available for experimentation and he diligently added them to the page.  His favorite elements were the Paragraph and Image elements.

Then we dug through some of the attributes available with these elements.  That’s when the lightbulb went off for him.  His favorite thing to do on his first day of coding was set different animated backgrounds on his webpage.  He had an animated gif of a dabbing panda, Donald Trump brushing his hair, and dogs on a treadmill.  We tiled the gifs across the page and he chuckled wildly as his animations, all at his mercy, danced for his amusement.

He’d been bit by the coding bug all right.

At 6AM the next morning I heard him tiptoe through the house to find my laptop bag. He fired up Notepad++ and began adding more wackiness to his project.  In his world he is a god now, master of textboxes and buttons.

I sat down with him again, this time peppering his HTML with a little touch of JavaScript.  Now he sees what’s possible.  We made a form together that tells you what kind of dog you are.  It’s basically just a random array of dog images, but it was an opportunity for me to teach him about packages and libraries.

Needless to say, I think he’ll be coding again soon.

Have you taught your kids to code?  How old were they when they started?  What kind of assignments did you give them?