Guest post* by Katie Mathews
In today’s current educational climate, many families own one or more computers and other devices and use them for educational applications aside from their primary use. Applications and websites include ABC Mouse, YouTube, or typing and writing programs.
Generally speaking, computers are already pretty well integrated into most educational curriculums, to a certain degree.
A newer development in our household was the purchase of a Raspberry Pi 4B. Both of my sons, along with many children their age, express interest in video games and wanting to make video games for a living.
To many parents this seems like a goal may not be attainable, especially in households in which computer literacy is not the strongest.
However, over the past few years, Raspberry Pi has made it possible for adults and children of all ages to have access to the learning materials that are necessary to make these dreams attainable and bring them to fruition, even if you, as a parent, are not necessarily technically inclined, literate or savvy.
The Raspberry Pi is pre-installed with many different programs that teach coding to kids, starting them on visual block graphic interfaces and tutorials suitable for younger children.
I was amazed to unleash my children on it and find that they became self-motivated and would seek out YouTube videos to explain how to get past certain obstacles that I was unable to help them with. My 8-year-old even started teaching himself how to create texture packs and mods for Minecraft! Raspberry Pi comes pre-loaded with a Minecraft game that is customizable and encourages them to alter its interface through coding.
I believe getting a child’s started with the Raspberry Pi learning desktop is such a beneficial step for their future and instills in them the tools they will need to flourish down the road, especially in a time of such rapid and exponential technological advancement.
Familiarizing them with Linux and other coding languages also opens the door into Arduino and Robotics, and innumerous other occupational applications. It can enable a child to have the ability to have a well-paying salary from home, with little higher education cost, and opens a huge door for the handicapped, differently abled, or financially limited, and was made expressly for that purpose.
My oldest child is 13 and on the autistic spectrum and has flourished in its use and his own technological capacity. He still can’t believe that something so fun could possibly be considered school!
(Editor’s note: Interested in KC-area resources for homeschooling a child with special needs? See this related blog post.)
They have inspired me to learn more as well and I’m also becoming naturally more well-versed in Linux and curious about computers again, with very little use and involvement. It is also highly customizable by nature, and offers a library of free stable package downloads.
The specific starter kit I purchased included everything one needed for a beginner with little computer experience. The only thing that is missing is a monitor, but one can plug it in to a television with an HDMI cable if that’s all that is available.
The first kit I purchased (and bought a second one for myself) was $120 and was available for an interest-free $20 a month with an Amazon card on their website. It is a fully functioning desktop computer that fits in the palm of your hand.
Part of what factors into this very cheap cost is that it is (or was at the time) the smallest desktop computer available. There are also many other copycats kits that are available, the quality and support for which I cannot personally vouch for. However, I would never dissuade research! I’m only suggesting the tools that I have made available for myself.
All in all, I have to say that it has been a tremendous bonding experience for our family and beneficial in innumerable ways. Raspberry Pi has made such an impact on our lives and elevated our homeschooling for us, that I will never stop espousing its benefits. Again, I highly recommend it to any parent, regardless of their level of technological expertise.
(Please keep in mind this is not an advertisement and I have not been compensated in any capacity.)
Katie Mathews is a retired professional tattoo artist and now a full-time homeschooler and mother of three.
*Note: The views and opinions expressed in guest blog posts are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of MPE.
We have updated this blog post, originally published in July 2021, for timeliness and detail.