It feels like we are still in the last throws of summer but at codetoday we are already looking ahead to our next holiday courses. Taking place during the coming October half-term, coding courses for children will start on the 21st and run for either 3 or 5 days. As ever, we will be splitting children into age groups 7-8, 9-11, 12-14 and 15-17. This helps us to deliver the course content appropriately for the age group and ensures we maximise the children's progress and enjoyment throughout the course.
The primary skill students learn is obviously how to code using Python. Python is a great language for newcomers to coding; it's easy to read and write but fully featured which is why it's so popular with companies like Google.
However, of equal importance are the soft skills we nurture in the students. Coding is an amazing medium to develop logical and creative thinking skills which benefit the students far beyond a coding course. Coding is also great to teach resilience; by definition coding involves trial and error, iterating ideas until arriving at a solution whatever the task may be. We challenge our students to be efficient in their coding, to declutter and constantly be thinking of new ways to solve problems.
This can be perfectly summed up in our philosophy and course content:
Coding is not about learning lots of commands; it is instead a way of thinking focussed on logical problem-solving. In our courses we want students to first and foremost learn how to think in this way in order to solve problems. The commands and syntax are learned as part of that process.
Students start by understanding the basic structure of a computer program, more specifically how a computer executes the code it has been sent, which in Python is in a linear fashion, one line after the next, making the order of instructions very important.
Right from the start, all the work we do is project-based, with all projects in the early stages being of a visual nature. This makes sure students are highly engaged from the beginning of a course, and also allows them to use their creativity by writing code to create a drawing, for example.
Following the basic Python syntax, we introduce the for loop, which is one of the basic building blocks of any program. Again, the focus here goes well beyond teaching them how to write a for loop correctly; the main aim is to get them to understand why this tool is so important in coding and how to recognise when they need to use one (for loops allow us to ask the computer to repeat something over and over again so we don’t have to do it ourselves.)
For our very youngest, we explore the above through various projects, such as getting them to draw a flower with many petals.
For other age groups we introduce further topics such as while loops, if statements and defining functions. This allows us to build more complex projects and helps students learn how to structure code within such programs. Such projects focus on the problem-solving aspect of coding
The aim of a codetoday course is to create self sufficient coders who will challenge ideas and actively seek out new and novel ways to solve problems. That's why we believe the benefits transcend just coding.