Best Tools to Teach Kids How to Code

Celebrate CS Education week with these fun resources for all ages.

“A child playing with an iPad while seated at a table” by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

It’s Computer Science Education Week, but as any lifelong learner will remind you, learning new things never has to be restricted to a classroom.

Most parents want their kids to learn things that not only challenge their children but also give them useful skills they can leverage when they leave school.

And the uncontested winner for skills parents want their children to have is learning to code. With over two thirds of projected new STEM jobs coming from the computing field, it makes sense why parents would at least want their children to be prepared.

Why Children Should Learn to Code

Computing-related occupations are some of the highest paid jobs in the United States, and the field is rapidly growing in other parts of the world.

In schools that teach coding, it’s either considered a foreign language credit or as a STEM credit.

However, only 1 in 4 public schools teach computer programming.

Want your child to dabble in code? Unfortunately, that burden is on you — the parent.

But teaching your child to code when you barely understand the basics of HTML can be terrifying. Luckily, there are plenty of resources available to help your children — and even yourself — learn this valuable skill.

Best Free Resources to Teach Children to Code

Maybe you’re a parent unfamiliar with coding. Maybe you’re someone who wants to help a child you know get ahead in school by challenging them with something new.

You don’t have to sink more money into tutors or extensive online resources. Here are free resources to teach your child(ren) how to code:

Blockly

This JavaScript-based programming approach is aimed at early elementary school students. Kids need to know how to read in order to use the program, but the system is largely drag-and-drop in nature.

Blockly is perfect for true beginners with no experience in coding.

Code.org

Code.org offers a variety of programming games for younger students (K-Grade 5), more challenging app and website builders for Grades 6–12, and more complex code tutorials to help adults as well.

Code Avengers

Code Avengers offers coding tools and resources for three groups of people: Junior skills (ages 5–14), Pro (ages 15+), and EDU.

Daisy the Dinosaur

This app is free for the iPad, and it can be used with kids as young as 4 years old. It’s a great introductory tool that teaches the basic concepts behind coding. There’s also a downloadable kit to help kids create their own computer game upon completing the app.

Hour of Code via Code.org

Is your kid a fan of Disney movies? Minecraft? Pac-Man? Hour of Code is one of the best resources to help kids think coding is cool. The programming lessons cover a range of grades, including basic coding lessons for kids too young to read.

Khan Academy

If your child learns and works best in a classroom setting, Khan Academy is a great fit. The free resource starts from the basics and covers more than introductory coding languages.

Courses are relatively extensive on Khan Academy. Students (and adults) can learn the basics of HTML/CSS and website building or drawing and animation with JavaScript. Khan Academy remains one of the most popular tutorial sites for grade school children.

Kids Ruby

Kids Ruby offers a free, downloadable solution for children wanting to learn Ruby. It also lets parents check the code with a link to GitHub before downloading. It’s a great solution for anyone wanting their kid to get comfortable with Raspberry Pi systems.

Made with Code

Led by Google, Made with Code is a resource that offers online programming resources tailored to young girls of all ages. The website exists to help close the gender gap within programming and computer sciences. There are more than half a million open computing jobs in the United States, but just 40,000 new computer sci graduates fill them. And of those 40,000 graduates, only 7,000 are women. Made with Code not only looks to empower girls to break through the stereotypes associated with

Scratch

This MIT-based programming tool teaches kids how to program their own animations. Need inspiration to get started? The website showcases plenty of other projects from users around the world.

Parents, what tutorials have your children used? Leave your recommendations in the comments below!


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