6 coding classes for kids that leverage existing interests for max engagement

hands on keyboard coding

You’re here reading this, which tells me you know that coding is important enough to search Google for something like “coding classes for kids,” or click a Facebook post touting the same. 

A great first step!

The question rattling around in your head as you research, though, probably sounds something like “what is the right coding course for my child?” 

Scratch, Python, Java, JavaScript, Lua, C++, and more. It all sounds cool, and it all sounds important—and that might be the problem. 

The good news is, there is no shortage of opportunity. Not only with the overarching umbrella disciplines listed above, but through many other related coding subtopics and specialties for kids to focus on.

To help clear the fog, first focus on answering this—what does your kid want to be able to create with code? 

Alternatively, what do they like playing with, and how do they enjoy spending their time? Robots, video games, apps?

Oftentimes, we hear “coding” and immediately think about overwhelming languages, scripts, statements, and more. It’s enough to extinguish any creative fire. 

A good coding class for kids, though, is one that incorporates pre-existing interests. Maybe those interests include their toy blocks with which they like to tinker, or even video games.

So with that, here are our recommendations on the best coding classes to consider for your curious kiddo.

These suggestions focus not only on the available coding languages, but also on how kids can go about learning to code—whether that’s with the help of LEGOs, Minecraft, Roblox, or even with programmable coding “toys.” 

10 kids coding classes to consider

Scratch (to code and design basic games)

Complete with fun animations, interactive stories, games, and more, Scratch is an introductory drag-and-drop learning environment brought to you by MIT Media Lab. 

Code blocks and characters take center stage, with kids using these assets to create programs, all while building a strong foundation in computational thinking. 

Scratch keeps kids engaged through colorful visuals, and makes for a valuable learning experience through engaging design.  

Summary: With Scratch, beginners can build basic games while learning foundational code structure, including how to code loops, variables, and if else statements (read up on coding terminology), as well as how to animate sprites. Intermediate students can progress toward learning how to use operators, while advanced learners can aim for games with multiple levels. 

Similar options: AI and robotics with something like Sphero BOLT,  where students build a foundation in real-world robotics and problem solve with a programmable robot ball that speeds through mazes and over obstacles.

Java coding (to build Mods with Minecraft)

Modding through java coding allows kids to expand upon games they already know and love. Perhaps they want to wreak havoc across the Minecraft world, wielding their own lightning hammer, or produce a floor made of rubber blocks for their player to bounce on! 

With Java, a powerful multi-platform programming language, kids can learn not only how to mod Minecraft, but also to make a wide range of games and programs.

Summary: With the Minecraft world as their canvas, kids can use variables and functions to customize gameplay and create mods. It serves as a valuable intro to Java programming, while also strengthening logical thinking and problem-solving skills. 

Similar options: Kids can advance their learning by creating their own blocks, and then designing and building their own adventure maps to show off their new creations! So, a blend of Java coding and game design for an entirely new spin. 

Visual coding (with LEGO)

If the mere mention of LEGO brings a smile to your child’s face, consider a course that combines visual, drag-and-drop programming (provided by the LEGO SPIKE Prime Education Set), and the many possibilities of the LEGO building system. 

Motors, sensors, and a 5x5 light matrix all engage kids with a versatility and customizability that makes learning variables, if statements, and operators fun. 

Summary: Students can expect to build motorized robots and develop their structural design skills as they get acquainted with the limitless world of robotics engineering. 

Similar options: If your child is a tinkerer, consider a coding course that incorporates engineering for an intro to object-oriented programming concepts. The micro:bit is an interactive, pocket-sized computer that, with the help of JavaScript, can detect motion, send messages, and make games!

Lua coding (with Roblox)

Would your child enjoy building a world in Roblox studio, uploading their game online for others to play, then monetizing that game to earn Robux?If so, then a Lua coding course is perfect for them!

Summary: If you don’t have the slightest clue as to what I’m talking about, Roblox is an online game creation platform that allows players to explore worlds created by other players as well as create their own. And Robux? It’s the in-game currency players can use to buy and sell player-created products! (You can also view our ultimate guide on getting started with Roblox.)

Similar options: If your child would rather focus more on the design aspect, opt for a course built around Roblox Studio and the fundamentals of game design. They can create what is known as an “obby” or obstacle course where players navigate different mazes on their way to reaching the finish line. 

Python coding (for machine learning and AI)

We’re starting to get a little more advanced here, but it needs to be mentioned, as machine learning is one of the fastest growing areas in tech! 

Machine learning refers to programming techniques that use statistics to allow the program to "learn" and improve at its task. Common tasks include image recognition and even playing a game of chess. 

Python is a programming language that grows more and more powerful with every new library added to its collection, handling everything from web development and game design to, you guessed it, machine learning and AI.

Summary: Python is known for having syntax that's simpler and easier to write than many other languages like Java and C++, making it one of many great kids coding languages. It’s used by Google and Disney, but is also popular in the scientific community. Thus, it can be used to develop video games, web frameworks, and numeric computing projects. And, as mentioned above, it is a powerful force in artificial intelligence and cybersecurity.

Similar options: Speaking of cybersecurity, if data encryption and modern computer systems are of interest, Python is at the center of it all! In a cybersecurity course, your child can learn to encrypt and decrypt messages through multiple methods, while developing security and analytical skills. 

C# coding (for augmented reality mobile apps)

Wait, augmented reality? You might still be trying to wrap your head around the more widely known virtual reality. 

But yes, augmented reality (AR) is an interactive experience where digital objects are placed in a real-world environment in real time. Recently, Augmented Reality technology has boomed due to applications and games that have made it more accessible to everyone.

A perfect example is Pokémon Go, an insanely popular AR game made in Unity, that at one point had over 28 million daily users! By utilizing augmented reality, Pokémon Go brings Pokémon creatures to life by placing them in real-world environments. 

Or how about Snapchat? Snapchat is a social media messaging app with 190 million daily users in 2018. Face filters and other interactive filters superimpose digital 3D objects over real-world surroundings. 

Summary: By combining C# coding and Unity (the industry-standard game development engine), kids learn to use next-level sending and imaging tech to create their own mobile games! 

Similar options: You really want VR instead? You got it. A VR coding class combines elements of game development for the creation of virtual environments. Students program interactions with C# and think in 3D to produce different VR experiences. 

So yes, there’s a coding class for that

If nothing else, the above shows just how much opportunity is out there when it comes to coding for kids. The beautiful thing is, much of it leverages interests and activities kids are already familiar with!

The result? Greater engagement, the will to overcome challenging obstacles, and valuable coding skill-building success in the end.

Ready for your child to get started? View our coding camps or online coding classes for kids

A photo of Ryan

Ryan manages blog content at iD Tech, starting with the company in 2008. He earned his MBA from Santa Clara University after obtaining his Bachelor’s degree from Arizona State. Connect on LinkedIn!

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