As many families scramble to find and secure learning opportunities for their kids in the absence of everyday traditional schooling, it's difficult to even take a step forward given the number of available online learning options.
Coding is not exempt, and perhaps even harder to wrap our heads around as parents who, let's face it, aren't coders.
Not to mention that with a topic like coding for kids, getting our students going can be quite the challenge even if we do have a good handle on the direction they should be heading.
A great first step toward coding!
So, just being here reading this tells me you know that coding is important enough to be searching for resources, or clicking a Facebook post to find some help.
Yes, a great first step!
The question rattling around in your head as you research how to teach kids coding, though, probably sounds something like “what is the right coding course for my child?”
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 for kids, told through different classes to consider for your curious kiddo as you start to ease your child into an online learning platform.
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 Minecraft, Roblox, or even with programmable coding “toys.”
Best online coding classes to consider
1. Python coding (for machine learning and AI)
We’re starting to get a little more advanced here, but an online intro to Python coding 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.
Online Python Class 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.
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. (Learn more about machine learning for kids.)
2. 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.
With an online Scratch programming course, 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.
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.
3. 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 about Minecraft mods, and not only how to mod Minecraft themselves, but also how to make a wide range of games and programs.
With the Minecraft world as their canvas, kids can dive into an online Minecraft modding course, where they'll 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.
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.
4. 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 Lua coding in Roblox through something like an online Roblox game design course is perfect for them!
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.)
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.
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 teens or younger learners. 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.