Coding for kids is a difficult skill to work on, especially for a young learner. It’s worth sticking with, though, for many reasons. Computer programming for kids is a field of study that has gained significant traction in the past few years to the extent that it is responsible for most of what we know as the internet, including all of our favorite social network platforms and video games. Coding is the language of the internet, which means it’s an incredibly useful tool to add to the arsenal, and the sooner your child is exposed to it, the better. The earnings potential as a computer programmer is high, which makes coding a skill that rivals the traditional academic subject and not simply a way to mess around with games like Minecraft, which may be a common misconception. Plus, coding can be an incredibly rewarding skill for a child to learn as they can experiment with animation, sound, and of course, video games. They should also develop their creative talent, problem-solving skills, and logical reasoning during the learning process, which are all highly transferable skills. Fortunately, even though coding can be tricky, there are many excellent online resources and websites out there that can fill in knowledge gaps and provide the young coder with entertaining and engaging ways of putting their skills to the test. These online resources will not only test your kid’s coding knowledge and skills with structured classes, but they can also be very enjoyable so it can encourage them to work on their coding ability outside of formal education. We’ve divided the resources up into apps, websites and courses, so you can pick and choose whatever your kid seems most interested in looking into.
The Best Apps
If your child seems to be always glued to a screen, be it a smartphone or tablet, chances are the best medium for them to improve their coding is an interactive app. While programming toys for kids can be a good screen-free alternative, they’re no substitute for getting to grips with the real thing. While you might not think it’s best for your children to spend yet more time engrossed in digital activities, the following apps provide enormous educational value and are far from being like the many apps which seem to do nothing but hook your attention and steal your time.
The first app worth highlighting is CodeSpark Academy, which introduces children between the ages of 5 and 9 to the world of coding in a highly interactive fashion. This app is available for iOS and Android, but you can also download it for your Kindle Fire or for your Windows computer. There are somewhere in the region of 1,000 fun and simple activities available through the app, so there should be endless motivation for your kid to keep going. Taking control of one of several cute animated characters, young learners will head to different areas in a fictional world such as ‘Sweetopia’ and ‘Montefooma’ where they’ll take on coding-based challenges and play games.
Swift Playgrounds is an iOS app ideal for beginner coders, offered by Coder Kids, between the ages of 8 and 12. As you might have already guessed, it’s an app that focusses on Swift, which is a visual programming language perfect for sparking an interest in coding. With the app, your child can create their own character with code to explore a bright and colorful 3D environment. With no prior coding knowledge, your kid can master the basics of Swift before taking on a series of exciting challenges and taking on playgrounds that Apple and other top developers have created.
Cargo-bot is a fun app that’s easy to pick up and teaches coders how to program a bot, while solving puzzles and delivering cargo. Using the Codea programming language, Cargo-bot is an excellent supplementary resource for children to dip into from time to time and work on their coding skills.
Tynker is an app-based course for iOS and Android, but it’s also available for Chromebook. Unlike other coding apps that are simplistic in nature, Tynker offers up a comprehensive coding course for kids, helping them build their own games and apps from the ground up. Perhaps one of the app’s top selling points is that it guides young coders through Minecraft mods, so they can create their own skins, mods, and multiplayer games in the popular video game world.
The Best Websites
Not all of us have ready access to smartphone or tablet apps, in which case you may be better off finding a coding website for your child instead. There are several top programming websites for kids, and each one offers up an incredible amount of value through free resources, paid courses, and much more. Here are our top picks for kids’ coding websites:
Lightbot is a top website for experimenting with code, featuring lessons on common subjects such as recursive loops, conditionals, and sequencing. The fun game format has young coders solve puzzles using their coding skills, so that they can get a solid grasp of programming logic. LitghtBot is available for first-time coders and experienced coders alike, and to date has been played by more than 20 million children around the world.
The Best Courses
Finally, there are the coding courses for kids. If your child is interested in learning programming as a skill, and potentially taking it up at school, or in further education, then enrolling them in a course could be the best move. These courses will have curriculums, classes, or lessons that the kids can work through at their own pace, so they should progress at a steady base and improve upon their existing knowledge.
First up, we have Code Combat, which will appeal to any child over the age of 12 who has shown an interest in video games - specifically RPGs (Role Playing Games). Let’s be honest, most children first become interested in programming games for kids when they find out how it powers their favorite games and allows the imagination to run wild and produce real results on the screen. So with that in mind, why not make the most of their interest in video games and have them take a look at this course? Code Combat is a highly entertaining course that has the young coders create their own role-playing character and navigate a vivid game environment full of kingdoms and dungeons to explore. While they’re working their way through the course, they’ll pick up skills such as coding syntax, strings, and loops.
Coder kids features several more than four dozen popular courses through their website, which cover the fields of both coding and robotics. Some courses are suitable for beginners, while others are apt for advanced coders up to K-8. One of their courses teaches kids how to make their own Minecraft mods through the Python programming language, and is suitable for kids the ages of 7-13, while another called Swift Playground teaches children how to use Swift to create basic apps. All of the courses are tutor-guided and self-paced, with a tutor to coders ratio of 1:4. The tutors are there to help make sure that all of the young coders can achieve their programming goals and receive sufficient guidance to make that happen. The curriculum is consistently updated across the courses to stay in touch with the latest technological advancements, too, so your kid will never get left behind.
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