Years 3 and 4 have been learning to program a computer using Scratch software which they can access online http://scratch.mit.edu. Programming has become an important part of learning about technology to meet expectations in the new curriculum. It develops children’s thinking and problem solving skills, builds resilience and is great fun too! Using Scratch is a great way to add to the experience of learning to program and also to learn about e-Safety.
Your child can use Scratch without registering with the site. However, to enable your child to be able share the programs and games they create they will need to register with the Scratch community. This allows them, their friends and their family to see what they make at school and at home. They can also view programs created by other people to see how they have been made and can make changes to adapt it to create a similar game of their own.
The site lets anyone in the world see what you have created. Anyone can leave comments about your work. This is fantastic way for children to get feedback and can be very encouraging. They may get suggestions of ways in which they could improve their game. There are many benefits but also the risk that someone might leave a comment you don’t like. The Scratch Team includes a group of moderators who work each day to manage activity on the site and respond to any reports of misuse. When logged in, your child can delete any comments they do not like and can report anyone who is not following the community guidelines. It is extremely rare to see an inappropriate comment but we feel we should let you know that this could occur.
Scratch has guidelines for use which you agree to when you sign up:
* Be respectful. When sharing projects or posting comments, remember that people of many different ages and backgrounds will see what you’ve shared.
* Be constructive. When commenting on other’s projects, say something you like about it and offer suggestions.
* Share. You are free to remix projects, ideas, images, or anything else you find on Scratch and anyone can use anything that you share. Be sure to give credit when you remix.
* Keep personal info private. For safety reasons, don’t use real names or post contact info like phone numbers or addresses.
* Help keep the site friendly. If you think a project or comment is mean, insulting, too violent, or otherwise inappropriate, click ‘Report’ to let us know about it
The e-Safety aspects of being part of the Scratch Community will be explained to your child. We are writing to suggest that your child signs up with the Scratch Community so they can further their computing learning at home, and share the great work they are doing.
Here are some useful e-Safety messages for children using Scratch (and other websites):
* Use a safe alias
* Keep password and personal information private
* Give positive feedback to others
* Recognise copyright in terms of acknowledging other people’s ideas
* Recognise inappropriate content – consider whether others would find a project or comment mean, insulting, too violent, or otherwise inappropriate
* Know how and when to report inappropriate content and when deleting a comment is the sensible action
* Consider appropriate length of time to spend online creating and playing games
We would suggest you have a look at the website http://scratch.mit.edu to make sure you are aware of how it is used and that you are happy for your child to be part of the Scratch community. They have a page for parents which may answer any questions you have http://scratch.mit.edu/parents/, or you are welcome to arrange a time to come into school to discuss this with us.