Coding is one of the most important skill sets for children to learn in this day and age. In addition to expanding their career options later in life, learning to code now can help increase confidence and encourage creativity. If you’re looking for a way to get your child started with computer programming, read on to find out about a number of fantastic resources for coding for 11 year olds. There are even free classes your child can take to help build their interest in coding!
How to start coding for 11 year olds
Helping your child learn to code can be fun, but it can also be overwhelming to know where to begin. Before you begin teaching your child coding, identify the right language for them to start. Here’s a handy chart to help you:
How to start coding for 11 year olds: free coding programs
There are a number of websites dedicated to free computer science and coding education. Here are a few great options to being building your child's interest and find the best program for them!
Create & Learn offers a number of free introductory coding courses to get kids started in a variety of subjects, including Scratch, Minecraft, Roblox, Python, and more. These award-winning courses are taught by expert teachers in small group environments, ensuring students get the best possible instruction. The focus is on fun, hands-on projects designed to teach real-world coding skills while exercising students’ creativity. All of the free offerings also have the option to continue further with paid courses to explore the subject more thoroughly.
- Live classes with expert teachers
- Small class size
- Option to continue on to further material after finishing the free classes
- Pace is set by class schedule
W3Schools is a learn-at-your-own-pace site with structured courses covering all of the most popular programming languages, from Python to HTML. Their written tutorials also typically include embedded code editors right in the website, so you can try what you’ve learned without having to leave the page. A free account allows users to track their progress through more than 20 different programming courses. They also include progress exercises, quizzes, reference documents, and the option to test for a certificate!
- Covers all the major programming languages used in the industry today
- Built-in code editor allows easy practice
- Exercises and quizzes help test your understanding
- Most of the content is written, which can require more self-motivation
- No options for further help with difficult concepts
Code.org is a nonprofit organization dedicated to ensuring every student K-12 has the opportunity to learn computer science. They host an annual Hour of Code campaign, in which students can learn coding-related topics in one hour online courses. They’re also particularly interested in supporting young women and students from other historically underrepresented groups. Learn more about how to use Code.org here.
- A wide variety of short activities
- Covers all ages
- Tends to lean toward fun, game-related activities
- Potentially overwhelming number of options
Join the best coding classes for 11 year olds
Knowing where to begin with learning to code can be challenging, so Create & Learn has put together a coding curriculum for 11 year olds to help you get started. Listed below are the five courses which are part of the “Coding Essentials” path, as well as a few other popular classes, although there are several other paths from which to choose!
Scratch is a great platform for getting started with coding and where most tweens with no previous programming experience begin. It uses block-based coding rather than text-based coding, meaning students can focus on learning programming without getting frustrated with text-based syntax. In Accelerated Scratch, students will core computer science and coding concepts, such as variables, loops, conditional statements, functions, and more. They’ll build a number of projects to practice with all of these skills as they prepare to take on more challenging coding topics.
Mobile apps are a huge part of the modern coding landscape. In this course, students will learn how to create fun apps and games for mobile devices. They’ll use Thunkable, a block-based programming platform which is easy to use, yet powerful. It’s even used to develop some commercial applications! Students will learn how to design the user interface for mobile applications, use the device’s various sensors for input, popular use cases for these apps, and more.
This class covers a wide range of topics in Web Design, starting from the basics of how to use Wix and how to structure your website, to designing layout, choosing color schemes, and even to creating a web store to sell products. Wix is the leading website builder for designing, creating, and managing websites exactly the way you want. And it is also easy to use. Whether you are thinking about doing a website to showcase your own art or hobbies, feature school/community events, publicize your sports teams or clubs, or to help local businesses and non-profit organizations, this class will teach you how to make it. Every student will create a portfolio of websites by the end of this class.
When students are ready to move on to text-based coding, Python for AI is a great next step. Python is one of the most popular programming languages in the world, used by professionals everywhere in a wide array of applications, including the exciting emerging field of artificial intelligence. In this class, students will learn how to translate what they’ve learned from block-based coding into text-based code. They’ll build a number of projects to practice with these skills, with a focus on the elements of Python which are relevant to artificial intelligence.
Bonus: AP Computer Science Java
How to teach your 11 year old coding
The most important things when it comes to your child learning how to code is getting them interested and helping them stay excited about coding. Here are a few tips to help:
- Keep them engaged by helping them learn how to make things they want to make, such as easy games to code.
- Focus on age-appropriate material, so the learning process is natural rather than overwhelming.
- Encourage them to share the projects they create to help keep their enthusiasm up and drive them to create more!
- Look for inspiration in their favorite types of technology. For example, if they enjoy video games, encourage them to learn more about the people who made their favorite games and how those games were created.
- Help them learn about computer science topics adjacent to coding to broaden their understanding of computer science as a whole, such as the parts of the computer they’re coding on!
- Get them involved in after school activities to encourage them to keep to a schedule and structured learning framework.
Get started with coding for 11 year olds
There’s a wide variety of options to get your tweens started with coding. If you’re looking for a way to jump right into learning to code, check out our fun tutorial for making a game on Scratch. And don’t forget to check out all of the great free introductory classes offered by Create & Learn, to learn using a curriculum designed by experts from Google, Stanford, and MIT.
Written by Create & Learn instructor Josh Abbott Salazar. Josh is a teacher, coder, audio engineer, and musician. After graduating with a Master's in Music from Belmont University in Nashville, TN, Josh turned his attention to the technology side of things, and has been working in various aspects of coding and engineering ever since. He runs a small music studio in Nashville called Tango Sound Studios, and develops video games in his spare time.