We're here to help you learn coding for kids! So today we'll take a look at why kids should start learning to code early, and explore what can kids create if they learn to code. We'll also dive into what if you, as a parent, don’t know how to code, and whether it's still possible for your child to learn.
First, if you don’t know how to code, don’t panic. You don’t have to be an expert or even a novice to help your kids learn to code. There are so many choices out there for your kids to learn about coding. From websites with step-by-step tutorials to online classes with live teachers to in person classes or camps, no matter your kid’s distinct learning style there’s something available - and we'll share many options here with you today.
The best reason as a parent to start encouraging your kid to learn to code is because coding is an integral part of their lives. Whether you have a budding architect, aspiring artist, inquisitive scientist or any other interest, code will impact their lives so why not show them how to create it and create the world they’ve always wanted? Let’s prepare our kids for the future!
Coding for kids
Why is coding so important for kids to learn? Coding teaches them to think! Kids learn to break down complex problems into basic steps. Kids learn perseverance and determination. Kids also have the ability to showcase their creativity through coding. And there are additional skills your child will gain through coding.
Coding fosters curiosity and team building. Kids are naturally curious and when they can create games through code, they start asking questions about other things they can create. When kids share their projects, they will help others create their own projects. Then through collaboration the projects become more elaborate and they create projects that are meaningful to them and their friends.
It is never too early for kids to start learning to code. Code-a-pillar and Kodable are both apps for tablets and smartphones that have block-based coding with pictures. The reason kids should start learning to code early is because the above mentioned apps turn coding into a game while priming kids’ brains to start problem solving and critical thinking early.
Kids’ programming languages
Kids' programming languages are the best languages for children to begin their learning adventures with.
- Block-code: This type of language uses blocks that kids drag out and combine together to create projects. Kids who learn to code using blocks do not have to worry about syntax errors. Blocks are created from other coding languages and are ideal for beginning programmers. Blocks allow kids to combine blocks together and think through the steps without getting errors because debugging is built into the block format. Scratch coding is a great example.
- Python: Python is a text-based, interpreted, object-oriented, high-level programming language with dynamic semantics. Its high-level built in data structures, combined with dynamic typing and dynamic binding, make it very attractive for Rapid Application Development, as well as for use as a scripting or glue language to connect existing components together. Python's simple, easy-to-learn syntax emphasizes readability. It is a common language for programming and a great one for kids to learn.
Coding for kids: Scratch
Remember how we talked about block coding as a programming language? Scratch is an extremely popular programming website and it uses blocks. Scratch organizes the blocks into categories and colors making it easy for kids to discern where the blocks are located. Scratch’s website also has ideas and tutorials which makes getting started effortless. To learn more about coding with Scratch and how to create more complex projects with a teacher, please check out our Scratch classes.
Computer coding for kids
Computer coding for kids unlocks a world of possibilities. Here are a few coding games, websites, and more to help kick off your adventure.
Coding for kids websites
Let's jump into some of the best coding websites for kids.
- Micro:bit: If your child would like to code a piece of hardware with built-in buttons, LEDs, and sensors, this website is the perfect place to start. It includes simple projects and more complex tutorials, helping your kid learn about Micro:bits. It offers Block and text-based coding. There is no need to purchase a Micro:bit because the website has a built-in simulator. If your kid wants to get a Micro:bit later, they can download any of the projects they’ve already created to the Micro:bit at any time. If your kid wants to learn more about coding with Micro:bit and how to create more complex projects with a teacher, check out our Micro:bit classes.
- Learn to Mod: This website is for the kid that wants to learn to code and import the code into Minecraft! Your child can program using either block or text-based languages. Through Create & Learn’s Minecraft classes, your kid will learn how to set up their own server, join it to their Minecraft world and create their own Mods. If your kid wants to code on their own, Learn to Mod offers an annual subscription. Your kid can use their badges which are tutorials for a very specific skill. Then kids can either mod the badges into Minecraft or use the concepts they’ve learned and create their own Mods, running them in Minecraft.
- VR VEX: This website is for the kid that wants to learn coding by programming a robot! Your kid can program using block languages. VEX provides numerous playground worlds to keep kids engaged. Kids can choose a world and then program the robot to solve a challenge. The coral reef cleanup shown above encourages kids to program a robot to drive around the reef collecting trash without damaging the coral reef. Kids will code the built-in sensors to detect the blue border and the trash pieces. While this website does not offer tutorials for the playground worlds, the worlds foster problem solving skills. Kids can decide how they desire to use the playground with the robot. If your kid is interested in robots this is an awesome site to gauge your kids’ interest in robotics without purchasing a robot. Create & Learn also offers robotics classes to guide kids through the different playground worlds.
- SoloLearn: This website is great for kids who want to learn text-based programming on their own. It allows kids to create their own account, enabling them to save their progress as they move through the course. You can see their courses here. An appealing aspect of this website is that all they break coding concepts down into bite size chunks so even if kids only have 5-10 minutes and want to learn something they can. There are hints built into the course to provide help as needed. This is a really good place for kids to learn on their own.
Coding games online
Another fun way to learn coding is through games. Here are a few to try!
- Lightbot: This game allows kids to code a robot that has to walk along a path while lighting up all the blue tiles. It is done through picture blocks so kids of all ages can code! Coding concepts kids learn are sequencing, overloading, procedures, recursive loops and conditionals. It is also available as an app!
- Dance Party: This website allows kids to use block programming with numerous characters. It has modern dances and music kids love. Kids can code the music, the tempo, the dance moves. Dance party has a step-by-step tutorial on how to use all the blocks. The best part is kids will want to code the party over and over embracing their creativity.
Coding for kids apps
- Scratch Jr.: Young kids (ages 5-7) can program their own interactive stories and games. In the process, they learn to solve problems, design projects, and express themselves creatively on the computer. This is block-based coding with pictures so no reading necessary! Kids can code projects on their own, or if you are more comfortable with teacher-led classes, check out Create & Learn’s Scratch Jr. class!
- Swift Playgrounds - IOS and Mac only: Swift Playgrounds is a revolutionary app for iPad and Mac that makes learning Swift interactive and fun. It requires no coding knowledge, so it’s perfect for students just starting out. Solve puzzles to master the basics using Swift — a powerful programming language created by Apple and used by the pros to build today’s most popular apps. Kids are learning a real programming language through a fun and engaging interface.
Coding for beginners
Block-based programming is a great way to get kids to start coding. When looking for a place to start, begin with websites that have tutorials on them. Scratch, MakeCode, and Code.org all offer project ideas and step-by-step instructions. MakeCode offers different ways to engage beginning coders including Micro:bit, Minecraft, and Arcade. Code.org offers hour of code activities that allow kids to choose characters they like and create projects quickly.
Another great resource for kids that want to begin coding is to take classes in-person, through an after school program, or online classes. Create & Learn offers classes for kids as young as 5 years old all the way through 12th grade. If your kids are interested in learning more about programming, we offer kids classes in both block programming and text-based programming. We are sure you and your kid will find a class and some of them even are free or $5 to start!
Now you know the best way for kids to learn coding
After reading, we hope you have a better understanding of why you would want your kids to learn coding. You can clearly see when kids learn coding they are learning so much more! Kids are learning how to think and critical thinking skills.
As a parent, you have so many opportunities regardless of your kids’ age or ability level to get them started on a coding journey that will benefit them throughout their lives. It’s never too early or late to start! We hope you will take advantage of some (or all) of the resources mentioned above. Up next, learn even more about the best programming languages for kids.
Written by Adrienne Unertl, instructor at Create & Learn. In 2017, Adrienne was awarded Wyoming’s Elementary STEM Educator of the Year. She brings over over 15 years of experience teaching. And currently teaches coding through Scratch, robotics, 3D printing, micro:bits, makey-makeys, and Arduinos.