Now more than ever, learning to code has become an invaluable skill for any career field. Coding teaches one how to be creative, think critically, and problem-solve. Who wouldn’t want those skills in their pocket? The great thing about these skills is you can apply them anywhere, especially in school. Surprisingly, you don’t have to be a teenager or an adult to learn how to code. You can be in kindergarten practicing tech skills while having fun! Programming for kids is fundamental to their education because it helps children how to think and prepare for the future. In this article, we’ll cover how you can introduce programming for your child, what they’re capable of learning at their age, and some online programs you can enroll your student in today. Keep reading more about programming for kids to see what free classes are out there to get them started!

To jump right into learning with guidance from an expert live, join award-winning free coding classes designed by professionals from Google, Stanford, and MIT - such as Scratch Ninja, our most popular beginner course:

Get Started with Programming for Kids

Advanced technology and computers are becoming ever-present in our daily lives, so why not introduce tech skills to your child early on? Programming is a fun way for kids to explore STEM fields, but it also helps them build brain power. How? Coding helps kids develop their creativity and originality. This skill is crucial if your student is ever met with a challenging problem because, at times, they’ll need to be able to think out of the box to find solutions. Another skill kids can gain from coding is logical thinking. A 2019 study has shown that students who learned how to code outperformed those who did not. Students who coded succeeded in cognitive skills, such as metacognition, reasoning, and creative thinking, which are vital for young learners.

Kids can begin learning how to code as young as five years old, starting with languages like ScratchJr, and for those who are older, like in high school or college, it’s never too late to start! Children can start coding animations, then transition to creating games, learning about complex data science, and coding websites from scratch. Additionally, students in high school can begin their engineering careers by learning how to prepare for AP exams and college credits.

Programming for Kids in Elementary School

Do you have students in elementary and want them to begin coding? Check out Scratch. Scratch is a free programming language that uses a simple visual interface and introduces students to coding fundamentals. This language allows kids to create animations, games, and stories. Keep reading to find out how you can introduce Scratch to your child, and to find out what a helpful elementary school coding curriculum should cover.

What’s helpful for kids grades K-5 to learn for programming

Before you sign your student up for Scratch, they must understand what concepts they’re working towards. Here are some key ideas, coding concepts, and projects to introduce to your student.

Key Concepts and Ideas:

  • Why code? When students understand the value of a skill they’re learning, they are more likely to become engaged and excited about the material.
  • Algorithms: For students to succeed in coding, they need to have a basic understanding of algorithms to plan the structure of their code. (More on this later.)
  • Conditionals: Conditionals describe the result of specific conditions. Programmers use conditionals when they need the computer to perform a task when a particular circumstance occurs.
  • Loops: Students need to understand this fundamental concept if they need to shorten their code that repeats the same task.
  • Variables: If your student is interested in games that keep score, it’s vital to use variables because they store information for your code to use later.
  • Bugs: Sometimes students will run into problems in their code, and we call those problems bugs. As junior developers, students must debug their code by locating the issue in the program and fixing it.

Project Ideas:

Where to learn programming for kids in elementary school

Did you know students can learn to program online? Online classes are a fantastic option for students to explore programming because they can do it in the comfort of their own homes. Plus, it’s an effective way of learning. Students have quick access to encouraging teachers who guide children to think critically and ask questions. Online classes also help surround your child with other students interested in coding, thus helping them build social skills.

Top free coding program for elementary students:

Scratch is a phenomenal programming language designed for children to begin their coding journey with ease. To use Scratch, users drag colored blocks that perform various functions, like moving an object, making it talk, dance, and more. Scratch promotes problem-solving skills, creative learning, self-expression, collaboration, and equity in computing.

At Create & Learn, we offer students free Scratch classes so kids can understand the platform’s interface before they begin coding. In our free intro to coding, students will learn how to use Scratch with our expert teachers within 55 minutes. They will leave class with their first computer program and excitement to create more!

Top paid coding program for elementary students:

Scratch has so much to offer, and in this Scratch Ninja class, your student will be able to navigate the platform and create super cool projects. Your child will learn about core coding concepts like loops, events, conditionals, variables, and more. Students will be part of small class sizes, up to 5 students, making their learning more engaging! Find out which Scratch Ninja session you’d like to enroll your student in today.

Check out more programs in our curriculum guides: Grades K-2 | Grades 2-4 | Grades 4-6

Programming for Kids in Middle School

Middle school is a terrific time for students to begin coding because they already know about technology. Why not introduce how they can contribute to their technologically advanced world? Find out which key coding ideas your child should learn, what they can create, and how they can learn how to program at home!

What’s helpful for kids grades 6-8 to learn for programming

Students at this age are capable of creating more complex games, animations, and stories with code, but to do so, they need some knowledge to apply this extra step. Students will cover the same information elementary students do when beginning to code, like learning about algorithms. However, students need to build their understanding of algorithms at this age.

Key Concepts and Ideas:

Algorithms help your student logically think about the necessary steps to write code. It also applies to real-life scenarios whenever we face problems. Algorithms help us think through challenging situations systematically. With algorithmic thinking, we can break down our thought processes into smaller steps and come to a solution. Learning how to think algorithmically will help your student excel in various coding languages and advanced topics soon to come, like object-oriented programming.

Syntax is another area your child will need to become familiar with, especially if they’re looking to start coding in Python. Syntax is like grammar but for code. The computer needs a way to understand us because we can’t directly talk to the computer, so we code. But we need to code in a way that makes sense to the computer; otherwise, it won’t execute the instructions we try to give. Students will be able to understand this concept more because they have familiarity with the importance of grammar in language. On top of syntax, students can learn about boolean logic. It is a form of algebra based on three simple words, “or,” “and,” and “not.” These keywords help implement control structures in code, like conditionals and loops.

Project Ideas:

Students can create a wide range of projects, like making a moving animation, recreating rock, paper, scissors, coding a temperature converter, programming a number guessing game, and more!

Have your student try these tutorials for extra coding practice:

Where to learn programming for kids in middle school

Enrolling your student in an online coding class can help them grasp coding skills quicker than independently learning how to code. In an online learning environment, students have access to instructors who can instantly help them work through coding problems or answer any questions. Online coding classes are an excellent choice for students who need extra support and guidance.

Top free coding program for middle school students:

Scratch is a phenomenal programming language designed for children to begin their coding journey with ease. To use Scratch, users drag colored blocks that perform various functions, like moving an object, making it talk, dance, and more. Scratch promotes problem-solving skills, creative learning, self-expression, collaboration, and equity in computing.

At Create & Learn, we offer students free Scratch classes so kids can understand the platform’s interface before they begin coding projects. In our free intro to coding, students will learn how to use Scratch with our expert teachers within 55 minutes. For middle schoolers, check out our Accelerated Scratch free intro class.

Top paid coding program for middle schoolers:

Scratch is a great platform anyone can use, especially for middle schoolers. In our Accelerated Scratch Course, students will learn about Scratch’s interface and coding concepts at a faster pace. We use an inquiry-based teaching style because it helps students develop the cognitive skills needed to succeed in advanced computer science courses. Students will be part of small class sizes, up to 5 students, making their learning more engaging! Find out which Accelerated Scratch session you’d like to enroll your student in today.

Check out more programs in our curriculum guide: Grades 6-9

Programming for Kids in High School

Are you looking to introduce a new extracurricular for your high schooler? Mention computer programming to your student. Kids in high school are well-attuned to technology, but wouldn’t it be cool to learn how their phone works or how to create a unique social media app? Programming is perfect for high school students who want to know how to apply their skills to real-world settings and add projects to their college portfolios.

What’s helpful for kids grades 9-12 to learn for programming

High schoolers have a wide range of topics they can pick up to begin their coding journey. Learning key coding concepts and ideas could be helpful if you have students wanting to take AP Computer Science or learn a high-level programming language like Python or Java. Students in high school will run into the same material as middle schoolers; however, high schoolers can begin working on advanced concepts like making and implementing algorithms, data structures, and object-oriented programming. These concepts are what software engineers use daily to create websites, apps, games, artificial intelligence, and more!

Here are some projects your student can create as practice:

Where to learn programming for kids in high school

Do you have a high schooler with many extracurriculars to manage but who still wants to learn how to code? Online coding classes are perfect for high schoolers who don’t have the time to commute to an in-person programming class or whose school doesn’t offer computer classes. Coding classes online are accessible from home and led by experts who provide guidance, thorough explanations, and instant answers to students’ inquiries. Keep reading to see what programs your child can check out.

Top free coding program for high schoolers:

If your child is interested in learning how to code on their own time at their own pace, have them check out W3 schools. W3 schools is an online freemium education website full of coding tutorials in various languages like HTML/CSS, JavaScript, C++, Java, and Python.

Python is one of the most popular programming language in the industry and is used by companies like Google and Netflix. Programming in Python is one of the simplest coding languages to learn and can be used for web development, game development, apps, machine learning, and more! We offer a free intro to Python coding class where your student will be able to animate, draw, and build their own story project to create a cool animation.

Top paid coding program for high school teens:

In our Python for AI, your child will learn about core concepts like syntax, loops, data types, variables, and more. As your student proceeds to the next level of our course, they’ll learn about advanced programming elements such as dictionaries and files. Students will use these concepts to build games, stories, and real-world data projects. At the end of the course, students will learn about object-oriented programming and new data structures like 2D arrays. Your student will culminate this course by creating a project from scratch and will leave with the confidence necessary to independently code programs in any programming language.

If your child is interested in creating a website, check out our upcoming Wix class. In this class, students will use Wix to create a website while also learning about web design and development.

Check out more programs in our curriculum guide: Grades 9-12

Programming for Kids

Steve Jobs once said, “Everybody should learn how to program a computer because it teaches you how to think.” Kids must learn how to code because it teaches them problem-solving skills and creativity, which are pertinent to their future. We want students to succeed and help them create a brighter world full of imagination and innovation. Start your student’s computer programming voyage and set their future up for success by enrolling them in a free coding class today!

Written by Hunter Wilkinson, a fervent reader and learner. She got into education to share her passion for storytelling and STEAM instruction. In her free time, Hunter loves to write songs/poems, run, play video games, and hang out with her two fluffy cats.