I need some help/advise. here's a background on my problem. My son, Shaun 5yrs, is in day school. One of the things he takes is computer classes. It's just basic skills, how to use a mouse, keyboard and problem solving. As of the first of the month the business that ran the classes closed it's doors. My problem is where do we go from here? Shaun starts "Big" School this fall and will get some type of computer classes there. Being the Geekdad I am I just can't leave it at that. Do you guys(and gals) have any experience with online computer classes for the juice box set? We're open for anything. Free, paid and open-source need apply. At this point I may hand him a Linux book and a Ubuntu live cd and turn him loose on the world.
Have you thought about how you could teach him some of this stuff yourself. It doesn't need to take much time - you could start anywhere really. I'd focus maybe on some graphics programs, or even simple games that encourage mouse use and keyboard skills.
Also - there is more to teaching kids about the digital world than just computers. Teach him to use a digital camera, then how to download photos and edit them. This could evolve into him making his own stop motion animation.
I find, geeklets (now 8 and 10) have learnt best when they are having fun with me using technology. I also found that LEGO Mindstorms NXT has been great for teaching basic computer skills and programming.
My advice would be to help immerse your son in and around the home, learning by doing and as part of everyday life is so under-rated!
I second the "Teach him yourself" suggestion. This would be great "bonding time" as well as a great opportunity to teach him to be "cautiously curious". 5 is all about "Good guys and bad guys" -- Luke/Vader, Optimus Prime/megatron, Batman/Joker, [insert hero/antihero of choice] You want him to be a good guy, but also know WHY it's better to be good, the benefits, and all that good stuff. Also the consequences of virtual indesgressions...
If you aren't computer-savvy, it's ok - he's 5 - do what many do in other subjects - just stay one step/page ahead...
Supplimental computer lessons are a good idea, though - especially for those areas you are weak in. Just make sure whoever is instructing wears a white hat...
I know some adults who don't really comprend the ramifications (legal and life) of some of what they do on their computer - by being involved with your son's early interactions w/ computers and the online world, you can REALLY help guide your son. It's even more important than that "Throw stuff at your kid in the backyard" time... ;)
GEEKDAD's a neat term, but I prefer just DAD, the Geek part is almost universal now that EVERYONE is 'GEEKY" by older standards...
I'm a Sysadmin and yes I have shown how to do a lot of things in Linux and Windows. The classes are more of a way for him to get a better foundation so he doesn't have all the bad habits that I've picked up over the years.
Don't worry, he'll come up with his own DIFFERENT set of bad habits all by himself! :)
It's good to tweak his code so he is more efficient, avoids sloppy coding or leaving the project space all sloppy, ("Remember -Don't scratch your head with your soldering iron like DADDY does"*)
Mistakes are part of the learning process, but it's good to try to steer them away from making the same mistakes you made... Sometimes, they might go along the same seemingly wrong path you once trelled down, and see something you missed, but sometimes, it's good to stop them before they swap the "Source" and "target"...OOPs...
By the time he's older, tech will have evolved SO much... but the classes will provide him a deeper understanding of what makes it all work... (I used to tutor kids, and they all learned QBasic and other now-antiquated languages, but they learned logic and were less tech-ignorant)
*(I've NEVER actually done this...yet)