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Valley Weekend : FOR THE KIDS : Computer Course Puts the Future at Their Fingertips : Youths sign on to cyberspace with classes that dispense the basics as well as simulate company ownership and crime fighting.

SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

How would you like to give your kids a glimpse of their future without having to leave the Valley? What’s involved is not a high-tech amusement park ride, but a series of trips via computer into the realm of cyberspace. That’s where, willy-nilly, they’re going to be spending increasing chunks of their lives, that is, if they hope to go into high-paying, high-skill jobs.

Futurekids, a computer skills program for children 3 to 17, offers Saturday courses that now include a sort of guided tour of parts of the much-talked-about Internet.

This is not about playing computer games. Instead, kids get a kind of supervised strategizing, where they learn to use the computer to run companies and cities, even fight crime.

In small groups, with lots of individual attention, kids learn computer basics, including the popular software programs such as Windows, Word Perfect, Quicken and even computer-image simulation.

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Each Futurekids site is independently managed and open to discussion of specially tailored study programs, but, ordinarily, sessions run several hours, cost $50 and up and involve more than a single Saturday. After-school sessions are also available, and, at some sites, programs are offered for children who are learning disabled, hearing disabled or who have limited English skills. Parents even enroll on occasion.

Some sites offer scholarships that are administered through the child’s public school. In a few Southern California communities, Futurekids’ instructional program is being offered as part of the public school curriculum on a contract basis with the local district.

Here are the numbers to call for specifics about weekend Future-kids programs near you: Agoura Hills--991-4061, Granada Hills--360-7379, La Crescenta--957-3559, North Hollywood--762-5437, Northridge--700-0011, Santa Clarita--(805) 254-6994, Tarzana--774-9698.


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