As a teacher, I’ve seen firsthand how coding is also becoming a hot new skill for kids, with little ones as young as 5 to 7 years old beginning to learn the basic concepts.
Supermodel Karlie Kloss launched a coding school aimed at teen girls called “Kode With Klossy” in 2016, which has now celebrated close to 10,000 graduates. Meanwhile, many schools around the US offer coding classes as an elective course for students to incorporate into their daily education. Plus, there are online coding academies like Juni Learning that are marketed to kids, designed to get them started on their coding journey from a young age.
If you’ve got a child who’s interested in coding, you may be wondering when – and how – they can begin learning this new skill. In my experience, kids can begin grasping the basics of coding as early as age 7, and sometimes even a bit younger, depending on their individual readiness and interest in the subject.
In this article, I’ll explore the best time to get your child started, and take a look at some of the best course options to get your little one writing programs and building apps in no time.
How Should Kids Start Coding?
It’s important to consider exactly what kind of coding your child will be learning before you let them get started, as certain coding languages might be too advanced (or too basic) for your little programmer’s needs.
If you have a computer programming background yourself, you may already be familiar with different coding levels and have a good idea of where your child should jump in.
If, like most of us parents and educators out there, your knowledge of computer commands is closer to just knowing CTRL+ALT+DEL, then it can be a little trickier to figure out the best starting point.
This is where it’s a great idea to look into online coding options, like those presented by Juni Learning.
Juni Learning is a fast-growing education company in San Francisco, aimed at teaching innovative tech skills to the next generation. They offer coding classes specifically geared towards young kids, which take the guesswork out of where to begin.
Juni Learning’s coding classes are open to kids as young as 7 years old, which I think is a good age for kids to start learning the basics. Specially designed with young learners in mind, their 1:1 instructor-led sessions are created to be fun and engaging, without being overwhelming.
Juni’s intro classes focus on learning Scratch, a block-coding language that’s much simpler than the leading text-based coding languages out there.
Just because Scratch is straightforward, though, doesn’t mean your child won’t jump right into programming. Juni classes are project-based, so you’ll see your child dive into creating their own video games and animations right away.
Classes are 50 minutes long, with up to an hour of optional homework for additional practice.
Juni instructors and advisors are also available for office hours if your child would like more assistance, which is a nice personalized touch.
The Juni program even includes access to virtual clubs, events, and group projects to build camaraderie with other young coders across the country.
For all of these reasons, Juni Learning is an excellent way to get kids started with coding without burdening them with an overwhelming workload.
Individualized attention from their instructor can also prevent the pitfalls of confusion or frustration that can turn kids off of a new hobby, making it a great way to learn coding online.
If you choose not to follow a program like Juni, you can still incorporate some of the same ideas when starting out: go slow, keep things simple, and focus on actually creating things with coding, so that your child will stay motivated to learn more.
That said, I don’t recommend starting coding with a very young child unless you’re using a curriculum specifically tailored for little ones, like Juni Learning. Otherwise, they might get bored or feel as if the entire thing is simply too hard.
Some kids might not enjoy coding until their middle school or high school years anyway, when they have a slightly longer attention span and more of an invested interest in online activities.
How Can Kids Progress With Coding?
If your child has mastered the basics and is enjoying coding, it’s important to build complexity and skill over time. You want your child’s abilities to expand, without introducing too much, too fast.
Computer programming ranges from the very simple (like the Scratch course) to the extremely complex, so your child should advance gradually based on what it is about coding that they enjoy.
If you have an artistic child, for example, they may love designing websites and learning about everything from fonts to backgrounds to different interfaces.
Other kids might love creating their own animations, stories, or video games, while still others might want to create puzzles, word games, or other applications.
Let your child’s natural talents flourish through coding by encouraging them to continue learning and creating more advanced projects in the areas that spark their interests.
Lessons are designed to grow along with your learner in Juni’s program, so that they can seamlessly move from Scratch to Python, a more complicated (but still streamlined) text-based coding language.
Once kids have advanced to the fundamentals of Python with their 1:1 instructor, they can then go in any direction: more complex Python skills, or a whole new coding language like Java or HTML.
Having an advisor and expert teacher like those employed by Juni makes the learning process easier.
Personally tailored instruction and project-focused lessons ensure that your child’s skills are growing appropriately and they’re enjoying the journey.
Other online coding schools also offer increasingly complex courses, and even offerings from your local public school will hopefully continue to provide more advanced learning opportunities for your student.
Just make sure that they’re feeling challenged and having fun!
What Can Coding Offer Kids?
Coding isn’t just useful for training tomorrow’s web developers and data scientists.
Learning to code teaches kids how to solve problems and think critically.
Being able to decipher a coding language is a great way for kids to learn logical reasoning, and to see the cause and effect relationship of analyzing problems. They’ll become adept at breaking problems down and methodically figuring out how to fix them.
Plus, coding allows kids to be creative and tell their stories digitally. Whether it’s a funny animation or a detailed fantasy game, computer programming can unlock a world of imagination and expression.
Coding gives kids the tools they need to take what’s in their mind’s eye and actually develop and create it on the screen in front of them.
Discovering a new skill is an empowering tool for boosting kids’ self-esteem and confidence, too.
Completing meaningful coding projects can help your child feel pride in their accomplishments. They’ll be able to reflect on their ability to tackle new subjects and master new skills.
Coding also opens the door to forming a network of friendships with other kids across the globe, especially if your child joins an online coding platform with clubs and events.
Kids can work together and inspire one another with their coding projects, even if they’re not in the same geographic space.
So if your child enjoys being creative or solving puzzles, or if you’re simply looking for a way to empower the time they spend online, then coding might be a good option for you to consider.
Remember to introduce this new skill carefully, so as not to overwhelm your child. You may even consider a class specifically designed for kids with a 1:1 tutor, like those offered by Juni Learning, to make sure they’re starting off with a positive experience.
When taught correctly, coding is a wonderful skill to let your child explore.
After all, I think any hobby that provides improved problem solving abilities and creativity while also supplying your child with a highly sought-after skill is definitely worth a try!