Various dads coding with their kids

Coding With Dad: A Win On So Many Levels

A note from the author, Mr. Fred:

This “Coding With Dad: A Win On So Many Levels” blog post was originally posted almost 5 years ago but continues to prompt many kind words from readers so I have updated it with new elements.  I share these with you as examples of gratitude and how it can impact your learning and more specifically your learning to code.

It is Father’s Day again and whether you are dad or someone in the role as a father figure, you may be looking forward to spending time with your kids or those you look after.  If you are seeking a way to do that, I share a few stories that may spark an idea to make this Father’s Day even more special.

In addition to this special story of a son and dad, I share another story that took place this last spring with a student expressing gratitude that I never saw coming. It came a time with not only another challenging year of teaching due to the global pandemic but also with life events swirling around me.

Opening comments from an email

Coding, Gratitude, and Dad

I am not a psychologist but I have experienced what it means to receive one’s gratitude and the empowerment expressing gratitude gives you.

“At times, our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.”

A Good-bye Thanks

When I arrived at my classroom during the last week of classes this spring term I was surprised to see a former student of mind patiently waiting for me.  As I approached where she sat on a bench, she stood up, smiled, and stretched our her arms with a letter and small gift box.  The box contained a sweet candy treat and there was a special letter.

Valerie was a former student in my freshman year technology class.  She was home schooled, quite nervous, and feeling unsure if she would fit into this “live” classroom space I called my “tech class”.  Not only did she fit in, she excelled.  Energetic, interested in the material, and a natural leader, she embodied what I wish all students would and that is that “she owned it”.  By “it”, I mean her education.

What I didn’t realize was the words I chose in my talks about technology, people, and life inspired her.  Too often we have students pass through our classrooms not realizing our words are “sticky”.  Some are not sticky enough.  But the point is, she found them helpful and it was in her letter to me four years later where she shared how the words I chose, made a positive impact.

I said “thank you” and she shared updates on her next steps after graduation.  I opened her letter after class.  Before getting the letter, I was struggling to make it through the week.  Teaching has been hard.  Real hard. Life threw a wicked curve-ball too and quite frankly, I needed a rest.  Her letter, shown below, was that message that re-energized me.  It refocused me.  It uplifted me to continue on with my role as a teacher.  Gratitude can do that.  I never expect that from any student but when they find it on their own to do so, something truly wonderful happens.  Maybe we need this more in our world.  No… we DO need more expression of gratitude to others in our world.

Student hand written letter of gratitude

A Father’s Expression of Gratitude

Since it is close to Father’s Day, I thought once again I would share two emails from fathers.  I share them not to boast or brag but to let you know, once again, expressing gratitude to another human can have an empowering effect. 

HERE IS HOW:  I encourage you to message your children’s teachers to let them know of the positive impact they are making on your kids as they spend full days or three hours a week with them at any level in the education system.

My first inspiring email came from a father who felt a need to express his thoughts about how I helped his son over the years.  I know his son very well.  He was an outstanding student and is going to build a successful career no matter where he goes and what he does.  His family instilled solid values in him.

“Fred, I just wanted to teach out and thank you for inspiring Samuel to pursue his dreams. He would not have done as well had you not helped him find his way. He always spoke very highly of you and how interesting and exciting your classes and conferences were. With your help Sam will be graduating in the summer , a whole year ahead of schedule and he has accepted a Technology Consultant Job. Thank you for everything you have done and I am forever grateful for your time and dedication.

Well done Sir, Well done…..

Photo of a father and a young son

As a fellow Dad, I was filled with a great sense of pride when I read this email.  My role was small but this father obviously raised an amazing young man.

Coding with Dad

A few summers ago, I received an email from the father of one of my students who was in my coding camp. I got it at the end of the day when I was settling back in to do some late night grading. As a college professor, we get to influence students in so many positive ways.

On occasion, we also get to impact parents too and it makes you aware of how incredibly empowering and influential education really is.  And if it is education wrapped around coding, that is even better!

When I opened the email and began to read it, the biggest smile began to stretch across my face. WOW. A father of one of my coding camp students wanted to tell me what transpired this past summer. (I share part of the quote but kept out his name even though his dad let me use this as a testimonial):

“Hi Fred, I’ve been meaning to write you to express my gratitude not just running an effective camp, but for inspiring my son, on something as meaningful as coding. He spent much of the remainder of the summer working on other programming ideas, which thrilled me because it was something productive without me having to force it upon him”

The full story and how you can do the same.

Like many kids that I meet and work with in my camps, they are quiet (at first) like I was as a kid.  The boy in this story  was no different but once I introduced him to the basics of coding, something happened. I will even say something magical happened. He opened up and before you know it, you see a change begin to happen.

First there are smiles as they work on their project.  Then the exploring of new ideas grow, then they begin asking questions that show they like the challenge and their confidence grows.

Every moment counts!!!

The dad asked him to create some kind of game for him to submit as part of a competition on the ESPN Fantasy League that he participates and it just so happens they also have a podcast. Well guess what…..HE GOT RECOGNIZED for this game on the ESPN Fantasy League podcast heard around the globe!!

It is a little harder to find but if you search on the podcast for the 9/5/17 episode at the 53:20 minute mark you can hear it.
(go to the 53:20 on the 9/5/17 episode):

So here is a dad who loves sports, a son who loves to code and they came together to create a fun sports game. There are so many wins on so many levels but most importantly a bond between and dad and his son.

Whether my coding student goes on to continue his coding experience or not at this point doesn’t matter. He will now bring with him for the rest of his life a memory with his dad. Oh….and a game he can always improve on with his coding skills.

I love this story!!

I lost my Dad when I was about to turn 10 years old in the summer of 1977.  I like to think he would be proud of me and my work helping others.  We did build alot together whether Lincoln Logs, Legos, Blocks, or plastic models.  If I had the tools that kids have access to today, I think we would have also built cool things like video games or a tool for work.

If you are a parent, don’t let this opportunity pass by.

If you are not sure how, let me help.  Just email me here.

How can YOU apply these lessons?  Here is how.....

So, if you are a parent and you have a child fascinated with coding whether it is Scratch, Minecraft, HTML, Java, or Python, etc. why not find something you are interested in such as baking, DIY projects, or even a task at work, and then approach them with an idea to have them build a program with you.

Start with this free activity below.

Go and explore it on your own first and then sit down with your young person and build together using the bullet points below.

In college we call this ‘engaged scholarship’ at home we call it family time.

Happy Father’s Day to all the Dads! Mr Fred


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