Do you have a little wannabe computer programmer? My kids (ages 7 and 4) have been asking me to teach them how to program Apps and code computer games. I know my way around a keyboard…but writing code? Not for this Comparative Lit major!
So, like any mom would do – I set out to find the best way my kids could learn to code. Here are a few of the best resources I found:
This is the first site to check out before you do anything else! It has links to SO many resources. You could spend an hour here and still not see everything. If nothing else, bookmark this page and go back later. When I started looking for resources for Paprika (age 7) to learn computer programming, this is where I started. Of course, I didn’t know what any of the links meant or which ones to try – but it gave me a jumping off point. I have come back to this site many times to click through to more resources.
Ahhh, Scratch! How we love thee!
Scratch is a programming language created by MIT to make computer programming accessible to kids. It’s the programming language Paprika (age 7) is learning right now. It’s great because children don’t need to write code. Instead, they move color-coded blocks of code in an intuitive way.
The program requires a basic understanding of reading and math. You need to be able to read the content on the coded blocks. I know many young children have learned to code with Scratch – but I think it really depends on how well the child can read and if they have a basic understanding of math. For example, my 7 year old is an excellent reader and great at math , so she is able to use Scratch independently. But, my 4 year old? Not so much. She needs help. She’ll get there, but at 4 years old she’s just not ready to learn this programming software on her own…yet.
3) Code Academy
I would put Code Academy in the Advanced category – this is not the place to start, especially if you have young children. If your children are teenagers, then they may be able to start here and do just fine. To me it was a little intimidating – but I know a lot of people use this resource, which is why I had to mention it.
4) Khan Academy –
(Cost: Free, optional donation)
Khan Academy’s mission is: A free world-class education for anyone, anywhere. We use their videos in other parts of our homeschool (math videos, especially). I was encouraged to see the computer programming resources they have are accessible to all ages, and of course – I love that they are free!
You can use their programming environment to build graphics, animations, and interactive visualizations. Many of their tutorials are for beginners. The tutorials were very helpful – especially if the parent works side-by-side with the child (if the child is pre-teen or younger).
(Cost: $50/student for a 16 week self-paced introductory course)
Tynker is an online programming class for children in grades 4 and up. Tynker works with school districts, so if your child is enrolled at a traditional school, you may be able to access Tynker for free. Score! Since we are homeschooling, we paid to have Paprika take their online class since she’d been begging to learn how to program and I had no idea where to begin!
Even though Tynker is definitely pricier than the free resources, it was a worthwhile investment to me because of the program’s structured lessons. Tynker teaches the concepts of Scratch (the programming language described above) in 16 easy to follow lessons.
Paprika started the program over the summer at age 6 and quickly worked through the first half of the lessons unassisted in one day. Yes, she did 8 lessons in one day! (She was a little bit obsessed – ha!) Once she got through half of the program, she needed some help from me – otherwise she would get sidetracked and a little confused.
The program is meant for older kids (grades 4 and up). But even though Paprika was young for the program, she still learned SO MUCH from it and I felt like it was a great value – especially considering what the brick and mortar places around us were charging for programming classes ($15-$20 for a one hour class!) Paprika is a very strong reader and she is several grade levels ahead in math, so that also influenced my decision to start her on this program so early.
I know it’s something she can go back to when she’s a little older and understand it even better – and I love that she can repeat lessons she’s already learned, since she’s likely forget a thing or two! All in all, we really loved this program and it was a worthwhile investment to us.
Those are 5 Great Resources to get you started. I also have a bunch of Apps we’ve used on the iPad – and in the next week or so, I’ll compile a list of those. Some of those were great – some not so much! Ha! 🙂
(I was NOT compensated for this post – I just love sharing my knowledge with other parents!)