- Engaging online courses teach kids essential coding skills.
- There are many free services to help budding young coders.
- Premium services give kids access to a tutor to work with them as they learn.
Learning to code is a valuable skill. Even if you don’t end up becoming a computer scientist, having an understanding of how programs work and learning how to automate common tasks will impress employers. Children are usually open to trying new things and getting them interested in computers when they’re young gives them a grounding in the fundamentals of computer science that will stand them in good stead in whatever career they choose in the future. Read on for a list of some of the best online coding classes for young coders, including some free coding classes that lead to fun projects.
Why Should Kids Learn to Code?
Coding is an in-demand skill. The average salary of a computer scientist is INR 1,806,881 per year. Computer programming skills are useful even in other fields such as medicine and finance. Knowing how to use scripts to process data and automate common tasks can save people a lot of time at work. Coding is satisfying, too. Kids can learn how to make computers do things for them and see the results of their efforts on the screen. It’s a skill that opens up a whole new world of possibilities.
What Are the Best Skills for Kids to Learn?
Rather than learning a specific computer language, it can be useful for kids to learn basic concepts, such as what variables, loops and operators are. Once they understand these things, they can pick up any language. Some kids may want to make websites. Others may want to make video games, or, if they’re particularly studious, make programs to help them with their homework. Different languages are better suited for specific tasks, and someone who understands the basics will be positioned to apply those skills to any language they need in the future, for fun or work-related coding projects.
What to Look for in Online Coding Courses for Kids
There are many providers offering kids coding courses. If you’re looking for something to help your children learn to code, consider the following:
- Is the course age-appropriate in how it explains concepts and uses examples?
- Are the lessons short enough to hold their attention?
- Is the course engaging/does it use game-like elements?
- If students talk to each other, are the forums moderated?
- If the course uses lecturers, are they properly vetted?
- Do students get to make a working program?
The Best Online Coding Courses for Kids
Several providers offer child-friendly coding courses. Read on for a list of some of the best online coding courses for kids. This list looks at the skills taught in each course, the way the courses are delivered and their cost. From child-friendly learning tools such as Scratch to game development with Python and more general computer-science focused courses, this list includes something for children of all ages, abilities, and levels of interest in coding and computer science.
The Whitehat Jr coding course teaches general computer science concepts to children, including algorithms and logic. Whitehat Jr also offers courses in math, animation, and music, so kids can gain a broad range of skills, and it’s ideal if they’d like to get into making games or working in other creative industries. One of the teaching tools used is Minecraft, a game many kids are familiar with. There’s a free trial, and pricing varies between courses.
CodeMonkey is another general computer science course that teaches concepts rather than traditional programming. It offers age-appropriate courses for kids ranging from pre-K age through to teenagers. The most basic courses use drag-and-drop code blocks to explain general concepts. Teens can work with python code, getting exposure to a popular and useful language in a sandbox environment. CodeMonkey is a premium course, but it’s slightly more affordable than Whitehat Jr, and the gamified features work very well.
Kids Can Code
Older kids may find the PyGame tutorials from Kids Can Code to be an interesting way to learn game development with Python. These courses are quite bare bones but teach kids how to make working games that are similar to some well-known classics. These free tutorials could serve as the start of a school holiday project for a young teenager, giving them something to show off (or share online), once they’re done. Python and PyGame are free to download, and the Python skills they’ll learn can be applied to other areas of computing, too.
Toppr Codr offers courses for kids age 6+, covering topics such as robotics, machine learning, VR and AI. These tutored courses start with basic, child-friendly tools such as Scratch and gradually introduce more professional tools, such as Visual Studio, Firebase, and GitHub. Toppr Codr charges a monthly fee, and the courses are some of the most expensive on this list, but for that fee parents can feel confident their children are getting one-on-one tutoring from a professional and learning skills that will help them over the long term.
MindChamp offers coding courses for kids aged 7+, starting with simple block-based coding and computer animation and progressing to true app development. Users have the choice of one-on-one classes or learning in a group environment. Prices vary depending on the level and depth of the course but are typically around INR 8,500 for a three-month course. The courses are aimed at Indian learners specifically and are age appropriate. The more advanced courses teach skills learners can apply in the real world.
Scratch Jr is a free online coding platform aimed at kids aged five to seven. Scratch uses entertaining games to teach problem solving and the basics of computer algorithms, troubleshooting and code. Kids can see how the blocks and code elements they use change the way the objects on the screen move and interact, offering strong visual feedback that reinforces the learning they do. Once a child masters Scratch, they can move on to some of the other courses listed here.
Adults Can Learn Too
Parents may benefit from following along with the courses their kids are doing, especially for something like MindChamp or Kids Can Code, where the courses teach real world skills. The presentation in these kids coding courses may be aimed at a younger audience but the concepts being taught are just as applicable to a 40-year-old writing a script to parse a large spreadsheet for their boss. Coding helps make any puzzle easier to solve.
The Next Step for Would-Be Coders
Once kids have mastered the content in these courses, they can move on to more adult courses from Coursera or Udemy. Alternatively, they can try and apply the skills they have to make games, websites or apps and build things to share with their friends and teachers. The learning journey never stops with computer coding, and there’s always new frameworks, tools, and environments to try. A good education in the basics makes staying up to date much easier.