A snapshot of our approach to homeschooling.
This is Elizabeth’s penultimate year of school. Since she has some giftedness when it comes to visual arts, I thought it might be good to let her try her hand at web design, a way to get started with computers without having to venture too far out into the internet. I had a couple of Chromebooks around so I set her up with one, added an external monitor and wireless mouse/keyboard combo, and added a gizmo to our wifi router that creates a separate managed network where I can grant permission to visit specific sites. I also bought a paid account on CodePen, a service which lets you do web programming remotely on their servers, not quite as good as doing it locally but pretty close.
This pair of books comes highly recommended for folks who have little or no previous programming background. Years back while refreshing my memory I had gotten them from the library and looked them over, and they are good. So I ordered them both, had them spiral-bound at Staples, and handed the HTML/CSS book to Elizabeth. She worked her way through it quickly, so I then had her run through the tutorials for the Bootstrap framework, which I’ve used to build websites. And then I bought her a video series for $10 that taught how to build five different websites.
Actually it was Benjamin who showed the greater interest in the material, plugging away during every spare moment. Elizabeth worked at it too, but at least pretended to be indifferent toward it all. I still can’t tell her exact level of interest, but I do notice that Benjamin’s progress tends to goad her along (not going to be shown up!), and I’m fine with that.
As I figured, that was enough to spur Elizabeth on to finishing the Bootstrap videos. But now there’s the issue of sharing the book, which worked OK with the old setup—one book for one computer shared between two people—but not so much now they can work independently.
So: work out a schedule for them to share the $30 book? Or buy a second one? Especially since the book will only be needed for a month or two, and not returned to. Frugality would have said share the book (or, even better, get by with the library copy). But I’ve learned to look at expenses like this differently: is it worth $30 or $60 to remove an obstacle keeping them from pursuing a currently active interest? In this case, definitely worth it. So I ordered another set of books, will have them bound, and will then give Elizabeth her own copy on Tuesday.
Side note: for some reason I can buy the pair of books on Amazon for $31, or buy them for $30 apiece, or buy them used—with much slower shipping—for about $20 apiece. I went for the greater expense and faster shipping, again electing to strike while the iron is hot. I bought the pair as well, even though it irked me, and I’ll have them both bound ($4 apiece) on the assumption that I’ll then have two nice sets of books to pass along to someone once ours are done with them.