5 Smart Ways to Prepare Your Kids for Future Tech

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Think about it – how much did your parents or other adults talk to you about what work was going to be like when you were young?

Maybe you were fortunate to have a parent looking out for your career. Helping you navigate choices that defined your education and career path.

However, the vast majority of us figured it out as we went along. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing since times have changed dramatically over the decades.

Many parents made the choice to stick with the same employer for their entire careers. Up until the 1990s, it was common to stay with one job for decades until the long-awaited retirement arrived. A good, stable job was all families desired and needed to be successful.

Now, it’s becoming more common to change jobs every several years. Millennials are leading the charge with much more fluid career paths than previous generations.

Personally, I’ve changed jobs just about every 3-4 years to try something new and challenge myself. I couldn’t possibly expect my parents to have prepared me for that career path as a young adult.

What will work be like for our kids in the future?

Consider how technology and other global factors are changing how we work every day. This rate of change is only expected to increase and our children will need to be skilled in adapting.

By the time today’s children reach working age, many jobs of the past will be replaced. Many jobs in fast food, retail, or banking will be completely different or may no longer exist.

Technology advancements in machine learning, robotic process automation, cloud computing, and advanced analytics are completely changing many jobs. This automation will drive us to more frequently acquire new skills to find and land good-paying jobs.

At the same time, the Gig Economy is growing fast as well. More people are taking on part-time work in ride-sharing, freelance writing, multi-level marketing sales, and other temporary gigs.

So let’s get into the most effective tactics other parents are already using to introduce their kids to technology and what it means to work. These methods are likely to spark excitement and curiosity from your little one.

5 smart ways you can help prepare your children for future work with technology

Before we jump in, want to make sure this point is crystal clear. You should not try to dictate all the activities and choices your child needs to make.

Children who develop skills and behaviors around independence, creativity, and determination will be just as critical for them to be successful.

The following are excellent ideas to get your kids familiar with what it’ll be like to work. While they may not be ready to work now, having them get hands-on experience will benefit them down the road.

So, how can you get your kids into technology and prepare them for the future workforce?

1. Show them the work you do and talk about it

It’s important to share what you work on every day with your family. This allows your kids to see what it means to work and opens their minds to the concept of work.

Show kids what you work on everyday

If you are able to work from home, sit your kids down next to you and explain what it is you do every day. Just make sure you put it in terms they can understand depending on their age.

It also helps to relate your work experience to something in your child’s life.

As an example, if you worked in sales or marketing you can explain how you get customers to want something by describing how good a product or service is. In kid terms, they’ve likely “sold” their friends on playing a game by describing how much fun it would be.

There are countless ways to help your kids understand the work you do. Help them see why it’s important to your company, customers, and most importantly – how that work will benefit your family (provides income, pays bills, supports vacations, etc.).

Ideal Kid Age Range: While you can start as young as 2 or 3, older kids and teenagers can understand in greater detail. They may also take more interest as they get closer to the age where they are able to join the workforce.

Critical Skills Kids Develop:

  • Responsibility & Ownership
  • Earning Income & Paying Bills
  • Teamwork & Collaboration
  • Hard Work & Determination

2. Sign them up for a kids coding class or STEM workshop

As an alternative to sports for your children, consider enrolling them in a local coding or technology class.

These classes focus on developing STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) skills that have broad applications in the modern world. Kids can build an appreciation for these fields at an early age to help them think about possible future careers – many of which will depend on these skills.

Companies like Codakid, Tynker, and Code Ninjas leverage popular games like Roblox or Minecraft to teach kids about development. Code Ninjas and others are opening local shops across the country where your kids can go to engage and start learning technical skills.

Codakid Online Kid Coding Classes

If they’re already playing these games, why not make it a learning experience?

These courses teach kids the basics of programming. Whether it’s creating worlds in video games, coding robots to move around, or building websites to share information.

Kid coding classes and workshops provide a great foundation to build valuable skills that will benefit them in the future.

Ideal Kid Age Range: Most kid coding classes are geared towards children between the ages of 7-15. However, they’ll generally accept kids that are younger.

Critical Skills Kids Develop:

  • STEM & Programming Basics
  • Coding Logic & Structures
  • Critical Thinking
  • Game Development & Robotics

3. Download a kid coding app onto an old phone or tablet

If you want to replace the screen-time they’re getting with video games, a kid coding app may be a great replacement. Kid coding apps offer engaging learning experiences leveraging gamification where your child can earn points and badges as they increase in skill level.

These mobile applications were designed in a way that will teach kids technology in a way they can relate to. They may even think they’re playing a video game!

There are quite a few options whether you have an iOS or Google phone. Some of the top-ranked kid coding apps include:

  • Hopscotch – Programming for Kids (8+ years old): This programming app is driven by drag-and-drop visual programming. This teaches them how most coding languages are structured using blocks or segments of code.
  • Kodable (4-10 years old): Geared towards younger kids, it teaches them the basics of programming all the way to coding Javascript.
  • codeSpark Academy – Kids Coding (4-10 years old): Taking a different approach, codeSpark uses no text to teach programming concepts. They use a variety of visual activities to get kids thinking about the logic behind coding.
Hopscotch - how kid coding works

The coding apps allow the kids to see how actions are performed based on the logic or inputs they’ve coded into the application. This can support the development of critical-thinking skills and ultimately sparks a curiosity in understanding how other things work.

As much as it makes me cringe to see kids addicted to phones and tablets at a young age – this may be the one exception I can tolerate. If they become addicted to learning how to code, this can expand to a passion for learning other things.

This is why many schools have also adopted the use of kid coding apps. They understand developing a curiosity and interest in technology will be critical for future jobs.

Ideal Kid Age Range: You can find coding apps for kids as young as 4 years old, but you can also find some that are geared towards teenagers and adults.

Critical Skills Kids Develop:

  • STEM & Programming Basics
  • Coding Logic & Structures
  • Critical Thinking
  • Game Development

4. Help them start an online blog or neighborhood business

One of my first jobs was designing websites for local businesses while in high school. This was well before the rise of all of these one-click hosting companies that enable you to start a website from a template in a matter of minutes.

Today, you can literally get an entire website up and running with a couple of hours of work. Just sign up for hosting with BlueHost, which is one of the cheapest web hosting companies out there.

This makes it a cheap and quick activity you can do with your kids.

Suppose they want to cut grass for your neighbors over the weekend. Help them signup with BlueHost to get a domain (e.g., localgrasscutter.com) and create a website using WordPress. It doesn’t need to be fancy, but you should provide information about your services, hours, and how to contact you.

Kids can get into website design and blogging

Use this as an opportunity to give your kids hands-on experience with creating a business from scratch. Have them write the “About Me” page, pick the design/template, and be responsible for responding to customers with some parental supervision.

This can help them develop an entrepreneur mindset and shows just how easy it is to start creating their own future career.

Ideal Kid Age Range: You can help your child develop their first website as young as 8 or 9 years old. Start with a blog for them to write about their favorite topics. As they get older, you can help them design and build a business.

Critical Skills Kids Develop:

  • Responsibility & Ownership
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Teamwork & Collaboration
  • Hard Work & Determination

5. Build technology together as a family activity

Finally, if you want more hands-on learning, you can actually work with your child by building something with technology. This can be building a desktop computer or constructing a robotics set.

You can easily find all the parts to build a high performing computer for under $500. They can then use the computer to play video games or even better, get into kid coding software. Great incentive to learn how technology is built and functions, right?

If you want more of a pre-packaged activity, there are sets like Lego Mindstorms or the Makeblock Starter Robot Kit.

Makeblock Robotic Starter Kit
Source: Makeblock

In addition to introducing them to programming, they provide a tangible product that demonstrates the work they’ve done in real-time. They also make fantastic gifts for other kids to get them into robotics!

Ideal Kid Age Range: You can start as young as 7 or 8 to help them build their first computer or robot. Over time, you can move into more advanced and complex builds.

Critical Skills Kids Develop:

  • STEM & Engineering Basics
  • Critical Thinking
  • Robotics

Conclusion

Future generations of children will require new technical and personal skills to prepare for the future workforce.

Technical skills such as robotic process automation, machine learning, advanced analytics, and cloud computing are projected to be critical for future jobs.

However, there will be a culture and mindset shift in preparing for what the future of work will look like. Personal skills that will be most critical for a successful future career include adaptability, creativity, critical thinking, and resiliency.

Helping your kids start to develop these skills and understand how to apply technology can have incredible benefits down the road.

With that said, while you may have the best intentions, please don’t force your kids into coding, technology, or any activities if they really don’t want to. That never turns out well for the kid or parent.

Do you have other ideas on how to get kids into coding or other STEM-related fields?

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