A Parents' Guide to Coding
This parents' guide to coding for kids and teenagers is designed to answer some of your questions about this subject, and help you navigate what has become a busy world of computer programming and technology courses for children.
All coding courses are not created equal.
Why is Python the right coding language to learn?
Many students start learning on children's platforms such as Scratch but they outgrow these platforms very quickly, and often they get a bit bored with Scratch as well.
Python is a real-world language that is very powerful and useful and yet also suitable for beginners. It is one of the most popular coding languages today. What makes Python ideal for beginners is its relative ease of use compared to other languages which enables students to focus on the key coding concepts when learning.
What is coding?
Don't worry if you're asking yourself this question. You're not alone. Unlike subjects like Maths and English which have been around for as long as children's education has been, coding is relatively new in the children's curriculum and many are not sure what it is.
Coding is a means of communication between humans and computers. When we write code we are instructing computers to do tasks in precisely the way we want them to. Coding is used to write software, analyse data, and many more tasks. Most of our society relies on computer code today.
Coding as a mindset
Coding is a way of thinking that is very logical, in which ideas are broken down into small, clear steps.
When we teach coding we are teaching a mindset which is focused on problem solving. We build an atmosphere in which experimentation is strongly encouraged and failure is not to be feared.
A key aspect of coding is critical thinking used for problem solving. These are skills that go well beyond just writing programs. Learning to code is about learning how to think logically.
A great coding course should have…
Experienced Teachers and Communicators
Coding proficiency and great communication skills are both a must for an instructor teaching coding.
A Thorough & Engaging Curriculum
Like all academic subjects, a well-structured curriculum is essential to guide students all the way from beginners to intermediate and advanced.
Ongoing Support & Follow-on Learning
Students need to practise to get better, and they will have questions and will need help. A coding course needs to provide support beyond the lessons.
Online and in-person learning
At codetoday we run both in-person courses and online courses. All online courses include live sessions with an instructor which is essential for learning how to code. Although both formats have their own advantages, we believe that both are very effective for students to learn the subject.
In-person sessions can be longer and include physical exercises and more interaction between the students. Online courses allow the instructor a better overview of the students' coding at any time and through modern communication technology they make excellent communication possible.
Online courses are not simply in-person courses delivered remotely. The format and methods in online courses are fine-tuned to make them work effectively. At codetoday, our online courses are a hybrid of live sessions and on-demand content available on our purpose-built online learning platform.
What type of student is coding suited for?
We view coding as any other academic subject such as Maths, English or Science. They are subjects for everyone. Every child learns maths and we believe that every child should learn coding.
There are some wrong stereotypes about coding. It is not a subject only for boys (we have a 50:50 split in our students). It is not a subject only for students who are very good in maths, even though it shares aspects of logical thinking with maths.
Coding is also a creative subject. There are sometimes students who start off thinking they won't enjoy coding but then find out that it's not the boring subject they thought it was.
How can I help my child with coding?
Coding is all about exploration. The best way of helping your child is to encourage them to experiment and try things out, emphasising that errors are an important way of learning.
With the younger children, they may need some help with keeping their code tidy (for example if there is an open bracket, there must also be a closed bracket). If you have the time, learn the basics along with them.
And when they show you their projects, ask them to explain to you how they've done it. Even if you don't fully understand everything they say (they will soon become experts!), the fact that they have to explain their work will help consolidate their knowledge.