Parents & Supporters

Learning how to write code is like training to play a sport or studying a new subject in school. It involves practice, patience, problem-solving, and creativity. Parents, guardians, and other supporters are important to help learners build skills to work with technology. This section will give you tools for helping your learners — your children, students or friends — gain programming skills.


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Introduce your learner to computer programming

It is possible to get your learners programming, even without programming experience yourself. Find out how Karen supported her four children in Metro Atlanta as they learned how to program.

The first step I took was to expose [my children] to all the opportunities that were out there. We would watch videos of people talking about their startup companies, we would go online and research careers in technology. These are conversations parents could have today with their kids.

Karen Abrams, mother of 4 in Metro Atlanta

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Did you know?

  1. Programming careers attract people with all types of skills and interests. They can involve things like gaming, art, and math.

  2. Programming is writing a set of instructions in a language that the computer understands. Learning computer programming is the process of understanding that language so you can communicate with a computer.

  3. You can program on your own or as part of a group. You’ll often see programmers discussing ideas with each other to find the best way to develop a program or solve a problem. You may also see them coding on their own – it just depends on what the job or the project requires.

  4. There are a lot of careers that involve computer programming where you don’t need an engineering degree. One example is programming a website. You can create a website without being an engineer.

  5. If you don’t have any experience in computer programming but want to help your child or another learner get involved in computer programming, you can. There are many resources available on our Start Programming page that you can introduce them to, and you can also provide them with encouragement and moral support when necessary.

  6. There are so many amazing learning tools out there to learn computer programming without having to be in a classroom. Check out the Start Programming section of our website to see what works best for you or your child/student.

  7. One great thing about coding is you can get started at almost any age. There are even options for learning programming without a computer if you are concerned about too much screen time for younger learners or don’t have easy access to a computer.

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Words you may hear

While learning computer programming, you or your learner may come across these terms.

  • Code is a written set of instructions that tells the computer what to do. When you put the code (or instructions) into the computer, it can read those instructions and will do what you asked.

  • A computer program is a group of instructions or a bunch of lines of code that execute a specific task. This could be as simple as calculating a few numbers or could be more complex, like building Facebook. Websites, games, and apps are all examples of computer programs.

  • Computer science is the study of how to write the code in the best way and to understand how computers work.

    People often use coding and programming to mean the same thing – as each are the act of writing code. Programming also includes thinking through how the code is organized as it is being written.

  • Just like how there are many languages that people speak in the world, there are many computer programming languages. The difference between languages people speak versus computer programming languages is that different programming languages do different things.

    For example, to build a website you might use the languages Python, HTML, CSS or JavaScript. For a mobile app, you might use Java or Objective C. For video games, you might use C++. The language that is selected depends on what you are trying to create and what you are trying to get the computer to do.

  • The internet is a gigantic network of computers all interacting with each other. Code runs each of the individual computers and also makes it so they can communicate with each other.

  • An app (or mobile application) is a computer program on your phone. Many people download apps, like games, maps or Facebook onto their phones using the internet.

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Start the conversation about programming

Have a conversation about programming with your learner to help get them started.

  • Talk to them about their interest in computer programming. Understand why they may or may not be interested and talk to them about the facts in the Did you know? section.
  • Let them know that the games, apps, and programs they enjoy on phones and computers were made with code, and they can use code to create their own games, apps and programs.
  • Introduce them to resources based on their interests. Learn more in the next section Find Learning Tools Together.

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Find resources together

On the Start Programming page, your learner will be matched with programming resources (including online courses, games and local events) that fit their learning style and interests. To start discovering learning tools, click the Start Programming button below, then select the learner’s age, experience level and interests.

Start Programming


Get them learning

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Learn in a group

For some learners, a great method to learn computer programming is in groups, where they can support each other throughout the learning process.

Team Up

Create a group of friends, classmates or others in your community. Get together weekly or monthly to work through TechPrep suggested resources.


Find online communities, summer camps and other group activities in the Start Programming section of this website.


Visit local libraries or schools that may have computers that groups can use to learn coding.

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Learn at home

  1. Explore the Start Programming section to find online classes, after school activities, summer camps, and community events (more information in the Get matched with tools to learn programming section below).
  2. Libraries may have computers available for you to use and some may offer computer classes. You can also find books and magazines on programming at the library.
  3. Visit local science or technology centers in your area. Find centers in your area here.
  4. Subscribe to different technology channels on YouTube, then watch these videos with your children and discuss the topics together. Here are a few to start:
  5. Consider dedicating a small, consistent time period each day, week or month for coding practice. Shorter sessions each day or every other day are far more effective than longer sessions every once in a while. This is an excellent way to build a consistent routine which will promote improvement.

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Talk to your school

Ask your student’s teacher:

Are computer or programming classes available during school? After school?

How often does my child use computers or other technology in class?

Ask your student’s principal:

Do teachers get training on how to use technology in their classrooms?

Can my child use a computer after school?

Does the school sponsor an Hour of Code?

Ask your student’s counselor:

What kinds of classes or activities could help my child become a computer science major in college?

Are there any opportunities for my child to talk to or meet a programmer?

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Get matched with tools to learn programming

In our Start Programming section, you will find resources, online classes, events in your area, games, and many more tools to learn computer programming. Many of our resources are free or low-cost. We’ve organized these resources according to age, types of resources and the participant’s current skill level so everyone can find learning tools that help them learn best. Click the link below to get your learner started!

Start Programming

Types of learning tools

  • Recommended

    Our recommended resources

  • Reference materials

    Online courses & books

  • Live & in-person instruction

    After school & mentorship programs, boot camps, and summer camps

  • Games

    Our collection of games to learn important programming concepts and practical skills

  • Tinker & toys

    Fun and innovative toys

  • Local events & community

    Events and activities you can do with others

  • College, career prep & scholarships

    College programs, scholarships and career preparation resources


Help them succeed

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Help them succeed

The resources on this website are designed to make learning how to write code interesting and enjoyable. However learners may have times when the going gets tough and problems will need to be worked through. Learning a new skill involves hard work and overcoming obstacles. Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • By joining a community of students that learn together on a weekly basis, students can help each other figure out the answers to issues they may encounter.
  • Some of the learning tools on the TechPrep website provide more mentorship and support than others.
  • In-person learning or mentoring programs tend to have educators working directly with students as they get stuck.
  • Probe for understanding and ask questions about the struggle they are having. Give your child or student an opportunity to vent.
  • Reassure your child or student that getting stuck while coding is a natural occurrence. When learning to code, everyone comes up against problems that seem to be hard or even impossible to solve.
  • Have them take a break and revisit the problem later, many times solutions will magically appear when given a little time.
  • You can reach out and ask advice from a computer programming or computer science teacher/professional in the community.
  • Work with your student as they problem solve:
    • Probe for understanding and ask questions about the struggle they are having. Give your child or student an opportunity to vent.
    • Reassure your child or student that getting stuck while coding is a natural occurrence. When learning to code, everyone comes up against problems that seem to be hard or even impossible to solve.
    • Have them take a break and revisit the problem later, many times solutions will magically appear when given a little time.

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Becoming a lead learner

If you have started to learn about programming and discovered how fun and rewarding it can be, you might be ready to take the next step and become a lead learner yourself. In this role, you can experience computer programming and help family, friends and/or community members discover the joys of it as well.

  • You can check out the resources in the Start Programming section of our website to find resources to get you started learning.
  • If you want a deeper understanding of teaching computer programming, we also recommend visiting the “Teach” section on the website to find free teaching guides, games and activities to introduce to your students, and free, in-person workshops for educators. Additionally, the National Center for Women & Information Technology have a section of “Unplugged” lessons where you can introduce computer programming to your learners without using computers. Programming and education experience is not necessary!