Guide for parents and mentors

Learning to code involves practice, patience, and problem solving. This section provides tools to help others gain programming skills, even if you don’t have programming experience.

Step 1: Understand coding basics

Get to know some of the most common coding terminology and read answers to some common questions frequently asked about computer programming.

What is code?

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.

What is computer program?

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.

What is the difference between programming, coding and computer science?

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.

What is a computer programming language, and are there more than one computer language?

Just like there are many languages people speak in the world, there are many computer programming languages. In this case, the language you select depends on what you’re trying to create—and what you’re trying to get the computer to do.

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++.

Are all computer programming careers engineering careers?

Not all computer programming careers are engineering careers. 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.

Can I help someone learn computer programming even if I don't have a background in it?

Regardless of your background and experiences, you can help others learn computer programming. 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.

Step 2: Get programming resources

Get matched with personalized tools and resources to help a child or yourself learn computer programming.

Get Resources

Step 3: Get Learning

Different students learn more effectively in different learning environments. Get to know where your student might be most successful.

Learning in a group

For some students, a great method to learn computer programming is in groups, where there’s built-in support throughout the learning process. Find online communities, summer camps, and other group activities.

Learning at home

Many of the resources we offer can be done at home. Consider dedicating a small time period each day, week or month for coding practice. Shorter, more consistent sessions each day or every other day are far more effective than longer sessions every once in a while.

Talking to your school

Ask your student’s teacher, principal, or counselor if computer or programming classes are available during or after school. Start a conversation with educators to see if they can help your child learn coding.

Tech Prep is a Facebook-led initiative, supported by McKinsey & Company, to promote computer science and programming as a career option and to provide resources to get started.

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