Programming for kids – Middle school makers

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Computer science is one of the most popular branches of science nowadays, and it makes sense, having in mind how much we’re surrounded by technology.

Therefore, programmers are the most wanted people when it comes to the job market, and since technology is only going to develop more and more, it’s not a silly idea to teach coding to kids and have them start early.

That’s why I have this guide ready for you!

In this article, you’ll find the following:

  • What are the proven developmental benefits of starting basic coding at a young age
  • Where can you find free coding classes for kids
  • Best paid websites for children to learn code
  • Answers to frequent dilemmas and questions regarding code for kids

So, if you are considering getting some coding lessons for your child, or if you have a little geek that’s been talking about coding languages for quite some time now, the best place to start is down below.

Let’s get into it!

Developmental Benefits Of Kids Coding

When we think of things like game development or even basic programming, it might seem like something very complex that not all adults can comprehend.

Because of that, you might be shocked after your kid has declared that they want to develop coding skills.

However, coding is mainly based on logic. Problem-solving and critical thinking, and therefore it can be beneficial in lots of ways to teach kids programming.

Like any subject, coding can easily be simplified and presented kid-friendly, so things being too complex shouldn’t be concerning to you.

There are a lot of coding courses online geared towards kids specifically, so whatever they choose to do, it will be appropriate for their age.

Since the fundamentals of coding and web development are mostly centered around logic and maths, the pursuit of coding from a young age could benefit your child in various ways, even if that’s not something they end up choosing as a career path.

To be more specific, kids exposed to any mathematical and logical activities from a young age will be way better at problem-solving. They will know how to focus and come up with creative ideas easier. They will know how to learn on their own. Finally, all of that will inevitably increase their self-confidence.

And, in case they end up liking coding concepts a lot and decide to go that route once they grow up, it will be a great advantage to have these skills developed.

How To Problem-Solve

While you are coding, you are working a lot with your brain’s cognitive functions – you think, remember, you are being critical of what’s going on in the algorithms.

Basically, you are training your brain to think more critically about the situation in front of you.

This leads to better cognitive skills, and it’s not just some hypothesis; it’s something that’s been proven time and time again in various studies.

During the coding process, kids are learning how to break down big problems into smaller ones, making everything way more manageable with it being broken down into pieces.

As a direct result of this, kids who learn to code will develop a pattern of thinking that will find its way into their everyday lives and make them easier.

This could help them immensely with everything that awaits them in the education system and all of the various subjects they might choose, but it actually goes way beyond that.

When presented with a problem of any nature, these kids will easily know how to identify the core issue, analyze it, come up with a possible solution, test that solution, and then try again if it doesn’t end up working.

As you can see, this pattern of thinking can be highly useful in interpersonal relations, too, and internal struggles as well.

These kids will grow up to be adults that don’t freeze in front of the hardships of life but stand up and try their best to change them, which makes life much, much more manageable.

Focus And Creativity

Coding games, or anything for that matter, requires a high amount of focus to be present if you want to achieve something.

Of course, it’s easy to get into something if you like it. The hard part is that you need to remain focused to complete the task before you.

To do that, people learn to come up with a lot of little different strategies that will help them with that.

In coding, you can’t just plainly do the same thing again and again, and you always need to be present and aware of what’s going on, so you can avoid any complications.

That’s where creativity comes in.

You have to be creative in a lot of ways to be successful in coding.

You have to be able to think outside of the box with what you’re doing and be open to trying new things.

I mean, computer science is the main source of the saying, “If it’s stupid and it works, then ‘it’s not stupid.“ There has to be a lot of creativity behind that statement.

Thinking outside of the box can transfer as a pattern of thinking to a lot of different aspects of life, proving once again that coding skills can enhance your day-to-day life.

How To Learn Independently

When it comes to learning how to code, the lessons you get are there to give you the tools and the skills, but doing the thing and finishing a project is completely your responsibility.

That means that kids who start doing lines of code early on will get used to doing their work independently, and they will adapt and come up with various different strategies on what’s the best way to go around the problem.

This means that after mastering the basic skills from the tutorials they get, these kids will be able to come up with new and great solutions by themselves and ask for help only when they know they really need it.

Moreover, it will mean that they will learn that they can do things independently, meaning they will be more likely to try out their ideas and come up with new solutions independently.

Obviously, this will then transfer to other life-related things, and they will be better at coming up with different solutions and trying them out alone.

Kids who know that they have the freedom to try out things independently are also more likely to know when to ask questions and ask for help, and they will know that that’s not a sign of failure but rather a step that will lead them to more knowledge that they can later use independently.

Confidence And Resilience

Once your kid is aware that they know how to do all of these amazing things, they have great resonating skills, and they are equipped with the knowledge that will help them, it will directly impact and increase their self-confidence.

When kids are aware of their abilities, they will know better when the best time to use them is, and they will know how to make things easier for them.

Also, after a lot of successfully finished projects, even if it’s “just“ Minecraft modding, kids will have hard proof that they are good at something that is important to them.

Kids who are code learners face a lot of successful moments that make them happy and very self-confident in what they can do and who they are, which will have a great positive impact on their overall well-being.

But, aside from that, when you code, you are met with reoccurring mistakes and failures, and as coding works, the way it does, sometimes the reasons behind a code not working can be completely unknown.

This means that kids will need to learn to push through these types of problems without seeing them as failures, and that builds resilience.

When they are presented with a real-life problem, they will know not to obsess and linger too long but rather raise their chins and start to find ways to fix that.

While these situations in programming are very frustrating at first, over time, you learn how to deal with them in a more chill way, which is definitely a skill that will be useful in their day-to-day lives.

Build Their Future In A Fun Way

Finally, if your kid wants to become a professional programmer, the advantage they will get from starting early is immaculate.

Firstly, they will probably be a part of some online programming community where they can develop meaningful friendships and have a support network just a click away.

This way, they will share useful experiences and learn from each other but also be there as emotional support when a code just won’t start working.

Whether your kid wants to make their own game or would instead stick to mobile apps, it’s guaranteed that they will find their place.

Secondly, starting early means that they will have a lot of experience behind them once they do arrive in the workforce, so it will definitely have real-world benefits for their future.

Also, just the skills that they develop that I’ve talked about in the previous points will help them professionally, even if they don’t end up making their own video game or don’t want to write code at all.

But, if they do want to do that, and work with big companies like Google, Windows, Apple, or different Android software, then starting young is absolutely a great advantage.

However, this hsouldn’t be the primary motivation for getting your kids into programming.

While it’s fantastic for children to learn to code and then go on to become developers, that’s not very likely to happen if that’s set as an expectation of them.

Kids should learn to code because it’s fun and beneficial for their cognitive skills overall, not because they have to become a high-paid developer before the age of 18.

If you, as the parent, begin this story with such an attitude, then you are more likely to gear your child away from coding.

You should probably wait to see if your kid shows interest in skills like these, and if they do, do everything you can to encourage them. Just don’t push too hard.

If you want to gear them towards liking STEM in general, surround them with it, watch content related to that, buy books, and make it a fun experience that they will want to be a part of because it brings them joy.

If you have friends who are developers, try hanging out with them, especially if these people are someone who your child already likes.

There are many enjoyable and subtle ways that you can use to make your kid interested in this, and just like with anything else related to kids, you need to arm yourself with patience.

Best Free Coding Websites For Kids

So, now that you know what great things your child could gain from learning to code, let’s see some great ways to understand this.

First and foremost, let’s scroll through options for free coding for kids.

Opting for something free is a great option if your kid is just starting out if they are particularly sure what they want, or if they are young and there is a chance that this might not stick.

Kids coding online is the best thing in general, as it’s a medium that your kid already knows how to work with, and it’s also highly accessible.

The ability to understand coding depends on the kid’s thinking skills. The things they can do vary depending on how old they are.

Depending on how old your child is, you could either start them with learning the building blocks of code. Things like Java are also relatively easy to get around, but if they are a bit older, there is a lot that they can do on their Mac or even on their iPad.

Computer Coding For Kids Ages 8-10

Blocky

Blocky is a website that will teach your kid JavaScript using some fundamental principles.

The approach they use is also known as the block-based programming approach, meaning that this will be similar to doing a puzzle, which is something that kids are familiar with and find fun.

They will be presented with a puzzle where each piece is actually a line of code, and by putting everything together correctly, they will end up with a software program as a result.

This is a very basic and easy website to work with, and it’s great for kids who don’t have a clue and need to start somewhere.

After mastering what it has to offer, your kid will be prepared to learn text-based computer programming languages.

Scratch

Scratch is a great option for elementary school kids who want to learn to code.

It’s easy to work with, and it’s very dependable, as the MIT Media Lab makes it.

A big thing that comes with Scratch is the online community that kids can access, and besides building software, they can build friendships, making the experience even more fun.

As a part of that community, they can share things that they make, including their games and animations, which is a great way to get feedback and some constructive criticism that will help them a lot in the long run.

This website doesn’t teach a specific coding language, but it’s rather an introduction to everything.

Computer Programming For Kids Ages 11-13

App Inventor

This is another block-based platform, and it comes in the form of an Android app, and it’s available for free from the Play store.

This app is originally made by Google, so of course, the thing that you can do with it is making Android apps.

In this app, you start with very simple tasks, and they progressively become more and more complex the further you go.

It’s very user-friendly and fun, and kids won’t have any issues with learning from it.

Code Monster

Code Monster is actually a programming game where coders are supposed to go through the game, and as a part of that, they will actually be practicing JavaScript.

As the name says, there is the main character in the form of a monster that you should follow around and listen to the instructions it gives, but while you do that, you will be coding along the way.

This game is better for middle schoolers as they need to have some previous knowledge of JavaScript already.

If anything confuses your kid, then just go to the very well-curated FAQ section, and it’s very likely that you will find a solution.

This is a great way to practice things, they won’t really learn syntax, but it’s a great thing to do.

Coding Programs For Kids Ages 14-18

Glitch

Glitch is actually a tool made for developing web apps, and the tools that the kids will be provided with are really simplified. However not simplified to the point where it will be too simple for the teens.

A great addition to this platform is the option to work on a project with multiple people.

It’s similar to what goes on when many people are working together on a Google Doc.

If anything goes south, they have access to professional developers who are there as the support team, so they will inevitably be fixed whatever issues they might run into.

When they develop something with this platform, they will finish the project having an industry-standard code.

Khan Academy

Khan Academy is known for the variety of professional-grade classes they provide for people, and when it comes to computer programming, they have it all – JavaScript, SQL, HTML and CSS, and so on.

The classes are very easy to follow, and it absolutely won’t be a problem for teenagers to work with it.

Besides the classes, you are able to meet the professionals behind them in the “Meet the Professional“ section.

The difference between programming-related classes to other ones is that programming ones are not the typical video courses but rather a “walk-through“ type of class.

This is great as the teen can choose whether they want to follow what’s going on in the class, but they can also click the pause button and play around with the code themselves, which is just as good of practice as following the instructions.

Actually, this is something that’s encouraged, as it develops all of the skills I talked about above.

After the class, there are challenges and projects awaiting, so it’s ensured that they will practice the material to the max.

Courses at the Khan Academy are best suited for teens and adults, but if you started your kid early on, maybe even a middle schooler could try this out; however, you shouldn’t push it.

Best Paid Coding Classes For Kids

If your kid is sure that coding is what they want to do, then opting for a paid course can be a smart decision and possibly a significant investment in their future.

The options down below are great ones, and your child will most likely learn a lot whichever one you choose. However, before you pay for something, it’s always better to try out something for free, just so the child gets the schtick and how things are working.

Let’s get into this one if you’re finished with that stage!

Computer Coding For Kids Ages 8-10

Kodable

Kodable is a platform where kids can start out as early as 4 years old, and the way it’s set up is that kids can make their own characters, and then these characters will lead them through self-directed lessons.

As I said, this starts from a very low level, but the end goal is that your kid will be able to write and read JavaScript.

Besides making the characters of the game, they will also create the levels that the characters go through.

The experience is also very similar to a typical school learning experience. There is a class curriculum with a teacher’s script and activities that are available together with various quizzes.

Tynker

Tynker has a variety of coding classes on it and the way you access this is via a private Minecraft server subscription.

This is great for kids who like to work at their own pace and don’t really agree with the typical pace at which classes are usually made.

With the lessons, kids will learn to make apps and games and also some Minecraft modding, and they can choose to work with either block-programming options or work with classes that use text-based programming.

One particular thing that kids enjoy about Tynker is that everything is space-themed, with a lot of alien characters and rocket ships appearing.

Computer Programming For Kids Ages 11-13

Code Avengers

If your child wants to work with a text-based course, but also prefers working at their own pace, then Code Avengers is what you should be looking at.

One great thing to start with is that on here, you have the option to work with a free trial before paying for the full deal.

The courses are an introduction to both programming and web development, depending on what they want, and they can learn Python, HTML & CSS, and JavaScript.

The work is mainly based on challenges and debugging codes, so it’s efficient knowledge.

And you also have a Parent Dashboard available where you can track the progress your kid is making.

Finally, Code Avengers have excellent online support.

Lightbot

LightBot is another platform where you will have the ability to go through a free trial before deciding to pay either the monthly or the annual subscription.

When it comes to the organization of this platform and the way kids learn, everything is organized as a puzzle based on coding.

By doing the puzzle, the kids will be getting used to working with programming logic and t+getting a feel for how things work.

This is a great option for kids who are just starting out and also for those that enjoy Minecraft, as there are a lot of similarities.

Coding Programs For Kids Ages 14-18

CodeHS

When it comes to the cost, CodeHS has a limited free trial and then three different levels that are paid.

This is always a great option, as you want to be sure that your kid likes something before deciding to invest in it.

The Pro plan that you can pay for gives you the ability to earn grades and have very structured lesson plans, as well as to create your own lessons.

One of the very attractive things about this platform is that they are coming up with new courses all the time, and your teens can even learn about Virtual Reality in an introductory course.

Pluralsight

Pluralsight is great if you have a teen who wants to choose from a wide variety of courses. On Pluralsight, there are 50 expert-led classes on Ruby, JavaScript, HTML & CSS, iOS, and databases.

If they want to widen their knowledge and stem a bit further and learn something more regarding IT, Data, and Cybersecurity, then that’s a reason more to opt for this, as they have that, too.

While the material is severe and appropriate for teens and adults, it has a game-like feel, so it will also be fun to do.

There are video classes, but they also come with assessment tests, so what they learn here will definitely be solidified.

FAQ

What is the best programming language for a child to learn?

Python is a great language to start learning, as it’s very useful, but it also has a lot of similarities with English, so it won’t be completely new for the child.

How does a 10-year-old start programming?

The best way to start programming at the age of 10 is to choose platforms and apps that make learning to code like a game, and then through that game, they will start grasping the basics of programming.

What is the right age to start coding?

A lot of research and experts seem to agree that starting as early as 5 to 7 is a great way to do things.

Besides being able to code, this will have many additional benefits to a child’s overall development.

How do I teach my child programming?

The best way to start is to go for some of the classes available on the Internet, on platforms that make coding into a game or a puzzle, like Blocky or Kodable.

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