Dad trying to prepare his kids.

Hello all. I hope this is the correct “off topic” forum to post this in. If not feel free to move or delete it as necessary.

I am in my early 30’s and have two small children (3.5 and 2). I dig ditches for a living- technically an “irrigation specialist” but lets not try to make dirty fingernails sound fancier than they are. I love building things and I am proficient in wood working, metal fabrication (both traditional blacksmithing and multiple modern welding processes) I can rebuild the carburetor on my lawn mower. I even sew quilts and dresses for my daughter. If you do it with your hands, I’m probably interested in it.

My problem is, my young children are born into a world of technology. My wife makes more by Tuesday afternoon at her fancy data analyst job with a Fortune 100 company than I make all week fixing broken pipes. While I can romanticize the need to teach my children the “real world skills” that I posses, I’m not so dense as to not see that technology is the future and to set my children up for success, they need to know about it.

I want to start learning about these things now so that by the time my son or daughter are ready (SOON!) I’ll be at least half a step ahead of them in understanding the basic electronics and programming. Arduino seems like a great place to start as there are so many starter kits and openly available information out there. I see so many projects and think “I’d love to make something like that!” and if I can couple my wood, metal, or even textile fabricating skills with the electronic components I see so many possibilities.

I understand that many people who are likely to frequent a forum such as this are already of a very computer-savvy technology bent, but I hope that even though my background is in hands on things I can see and feel rather than computer screens and bits and bytes that I can figure some of this out.

Any tips, hints, words of encouragement, or testimonials from other non-tech-savvy parents who wanted to learn this for their children’s benefit would be appreciated. I can’t wait for my starter equipment to arrive and see if I can make an LED blink.

Cute kids.


Arduino links.

For many Arduino PDF document links:
Google >>>- - - - > arduino filetype: pdf

Watch these:

Some things to read:


Any tips, hints, words of encouragement,

Tonnes of encouragement - sounds very sensible. Arduinos are great fun. I suggest you explore stuff that interests you now. The details your kids will be dealing with in a few years time will be very different but you will have acquired a useful "literacy" from your own "playing".

My learning from my 4 kids (two are now middle aged men) is that if they find something they are interested in it is hard to stop them. Conversely, if they are not interested it is very hard to get them interested. IMHO the trick is to be a facilitator rather than an obstacle.

When my youngest was about 12 (almost 20 years ago - seems like yesterday) he was giving IT advice to his friends that I never taught him. And I'm not saying that because I think he is exceptionally bright - it was just something that interested him at the time.

I don't think you can plan kids' futures. I would never in a million years have imagined that one of my sons would become a chef or that 3 of the 4 would emigrate.


PS ... don't discourage your kids from the dirty-fingernail stuff if that's what they like.

Welders and machinists make bank

@HandsomeRyan, I have advice that is especially pertinent for your daughter. My wife is brilliant. But she scored a D in junior high geometry. For two simple reasons: 1. the teacher was unbelievably sexist; 2. the teacher was incompetent. Having scored a D from a sexist asshole made her disinclined to take any more math.

Fast forward. She has a Computer Science degree. She is very good at programming (currently teaching herself Swift). She had to survive many many math classes to get here.

Do not let sexist assholes get in the way of your daughter. (Do not let assholes get in the way of your son.) If the teacher is a problem, get the child into another class, hire a tutor, do something. Even if you fail it proves to your children that what interests them is worth the fight.

Children love doing new things with adults. Even things that fail. Do not be afraid to fail in front of your children. Blown up LED? Shrug it off, buy another, and try again.

Get a good quality powered USB hub to protect your computer.

Teachers are not the only incompetent assholes that may cross the paths of your children. Other parents are also a potential problem. This is a good perspective on the subject...


That's a great learning experience for dealing with many aspects of life.


To provide an answer to the question...

If you have no prior experience and want to learn this stuff. I would recommend the genuine Arduino Starter Kit. Then treat it like a college course and work through it, page by page, project by project. The projects are presented in 'model kit' style, put this here, connect that there which should suit your mechanical aptitude. The book does not try too hard to teach maths and electronics but by the end, you will have gained an understanding of basic electronic concepts and software structure.

The geunine Arduino kit looks like an exhorbitant price compared to the $20 'goody bag' starter kits from China. Try not to look at the bottom line too closely. The value is in having all the components needed to complete all the projects and a book which makes learning electronics appear child's play - It is not easy to make a complex subject look simple. Sadly too may of the other 'get started' books I have looked at take a the more traditional approach to teaching, making it look difficult.

There may be other books and kits as good as Arduino's but I know the genuine kit works, so I recommend it.

Like a modern day version of the Tandy / Radio Shack Science Fair Project kits that inspired so many of us in the 70s.

Children love doing new things with adults.

Absolutely! Doing things with Daddy is great fun for kids. And they remember.

I taught both my boy and girl welding in building them a little kart powered by a lawn mower engine when they were about 9 or 10 - they loved it. And haven't forgotten how.

One day it was so cold that the outlet from our bath had frozen up - it wouldn't drain. I didn't realize till I went into the bathroom and found my lad with a blowlamp trying to thaw it out... Arrrgh! - absolutely the right principle, but not the right approach.. I didn't yell at him, but sent him down to the kitchen to boil a kettle of water, which did the job without setting the place on fire. He was still happy, and learned something.... he must have been 10 or so.

Do teach them the old hand skills - you never know how things will work out.


You are right that the Arduino is a good place for you to start learning about electronics and programming. The children are quite young though and to begin with I would start them with something even simpler than mssltd's suggestion. Just wiring up a battery some bulbs, push buttons, switches and buzzers (i.e. electric rather than electronic) will get them into wiring and logic. I remember finding electromagnetic bells fascinating.

Since you are good with your hands, gears, pulleys, motors and microswitches can add to the fun and you will be able to introduce your electronics and microprocessor skills when they are a bit older.