Monday, August 12, 2013

The First Lesson

Today I started a new project with my 4-year old daughter, partly inspired by the "Kids cant' use computer" article. Also decided to blog it, partly to generate some pressure to keep the project going on.

I'll teach my girl to Use Computers. Like, use command-line tools, editors, understand the OS and the file system. And to Code. I'm sure it'll pay off. Right?

We are starting from a rather challenging position: she can't read or write properly yet. Fortunately, she recognises letters and is able to type them on the keyboard, albeit very slowly. Every keystroke requires a "full table scan" so to speak. 

Today I asked her if she'd like to learn to code and use computers with daddy. I was expecting a negative or neutral response, but she was actually quite enthusiastic to get started. So, why the hell not?

So we had our first lesson. What we did was

  • Learn to open the Terminal for command-line magic
  • Learn to use the "say" command as in "say mila", "say daddy". It was cool to have the computer speak. The real reason for this was of course to get some practice on using the keyboard and finding the keys.
  • Learn to type the special characters !:.
  • That's it!

We both enjoyed the first lesson. She said wants to have yet another today, so I deem it a success.


  1. Thanks for this inspiring blog. I have started similar exercises with my 4 year old daughter.

    I have Ubuntu on my laptop so I made and alias "sano" to espeak with the finnish language switch (-v fi). She was quite excited to get the computer say what she types. Mostly just random letters, but we also practised typing real words.

  2. Nice to hear that I'm not the only one raising nerdy girls :) The "say" command seems to be a fun choice for learning the command line. Too bad I don't have a Finnish voice on her laptop, which is a bit too old model to get OSX Lion installed on. Maybe we should switch to Linux too.

    Have you got any other ideas to share?

  3. Here is a nice article about command line and raising kids:

    I think it was pretty inspiring and interesting.

  4. This is very interesting blog and I'll definitely keep following it.

    Interesting choice using Vim... Even I'm not able to use it, even though I have frequently used Linux over ten years. Even though I'm software developer I prefer working with something simple, such as Notepad++ or Nano... but yeah, I do see the point with tabula rasa -approach, and it might pay off :)

  5. "Nerdy girls" ???
    Nah - there is nothing nerdy on a 4-year old using a computer. Kids always mimic their parents - I still remember my brother using his toy phone when my mom was on the phone - so it's just logical that kids want to use computers since we do.
    I think it is very good to learn them how to use a computer with commands like say. And VIM is great! But don't throw in regular expressions too soon or you may loose her - or maybe you get lost in the way :]

  6. Loistava blogi, täällä yksi säteilevä 3v tyttö juoksi äsken kertomaan äidilleen, että hän kirjoitti isin tietokoneella.

  7. Sitten kun lapsi oppii koodaamaan tietokoneen sanomaan "kakka" niin voi sitä kikatusta ja iloa :)