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I've got two very bright kids who are showing interest in learning programming. Of course their primary goal is to develop video games. They have decided they want to be game developers when they finish their schooling!

However, I seem to have been reading a lot lately about how software companies are frustrated with the level of math skills in their job candidates - apparently schools are not teaching math adequately for programming.

There are already other questions about how to teach programming to kids but I'm more specifically interested here in improving kids relevant MATH concepts & skills. What specific suggestions can you give?

Just for the record, I'm not seeking to force math on them as a chore rather I'm wondering if there's something enjoyable I could get them to do and they could learn from it at the same time (e.g. similar to how Lego Mindstorms gets recommended for teaching kids programming). Mind you, if someone recommended some great math book that helped their kid that would be great too.

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closed as off topic by ChrisF Dec 4 '11 at 0:39

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In my limited experience, most math schools teach and have always taught isn't really relevant for most programming in my experience. The obvious exceptions are problems that include such math anyway, but those aren't as common as math teachers would have you believe. And even in the exceptionally math-intense game programming, word from our partner side is there's quite a lot of required math that's way outside the scope of school. So where did you read about programmers lacking math skills? –  delnan Oct 18 '11 at 18:41
How old are your kids? –  Doc Brown Oct 18 '11 at 19:01

2 Answers 2

Take a look at books from Brown Paper School. As a former kid, I remember that I really enjoyed The I Hate Mathematics Book even though I didn't actually hate mathematics. It's a fun approach to math and mathematical thinking. It's hard to say whether it'd be appropriate for your kids -- I think that depends more on their current level of math skills than on age. I see that there's another one called Math For Smarty Pants. I'm not familiar with that one, but it looks like fun. I do remember The Book of Think, which is about problem solving more than math specifically, but that's obviously an important set of skills to develop both for success in mathematics and for programming.

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I wouldn't actually focus the math so much in the early stages of development.

When your kids get an interest in programming, give them a computer and a nice book that teaches some decent language in a comprehensible way. Maybe - just keeping in mind that they "want to become game developers" - also a more what is said to be complicated language like C (I myself started out with BASIC, back then ;). And as an important side point: let them program - and keep in mind that (like some parents do) a good 30 minutes "computer time" between homework and lunch won't do any good...

When they keep their interest (and the "Hello World" and little exercise programs are unfortunately far from being fancy computer graphics) on the topic and they start to develop a passion for programming, most of the rest will turn out to come by itself. Maybe they will develop their first text based adventure and then realize that they need some graphics on the screen.

There will be an automatic demand for more information and information will keep them learning. From my own experience, I have been through vectors and matrices way before they were ever mentioned at school. However, I also have to admit that deeper comprehension of the topics took place first when dealing again with them at the university.

This is of course, only my personal opinion and experience.

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