If you’re looking to improve your child's coding skills, this handy guide is sure to help you on your way! No matter if they're just getting started or working on becoming a better programmer, check out these easy steps!
First, there’s no shortage of reasons why kids should learn to code or incentives to learn to code. An understanding of how coding works is an essential ingredient to today’s most exciting, lucrative careers.
Plus, coding is absolutely everywhere! From gaming to social media to cutting-edge AI technology, programming languages like Java and Python hold the keys to unlocking the modern world. That's a lot of code!
Many parents are interested in getting kids started with coding early in their development. And we’re all about that here at iD Tech!
So, if you’re a parent who could use a little guidance for inspiring your student, pair this post with some supplemental content written with you in mind: a parent’s guide to teaching kids to code and 14 ways to spark a love of STEM.
6 Steps to Improving Coding Skills Today
Again, even if you have a child who has never programmed before, it’s never too late to start gaining experience in coding. And more good news—it’s also never been easier to dive in.
Here are six best practices for launching a coding journey so that all aspiring minds (including beginners and experienced programmers) can take their skills to the next level.
1. Set SMART Goal(s)
The SMART Goal framework is proven, time and time again, to increase odds of success at just about anything, from sticking to those New Year’s resolutions to learning C++ for the first time.
Right now, your child might be in the initial stages of setting their goal—that’s awesome (and exciting!). The next step is to refine what they'd like to accomplish, set a timeline, and commit to how they're going to make it happen.
SMART goals are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and timely; aka, they have all the components necessary to success. Here’s an example of what I mean by this:
Non SMART Goal: I want to learn to code.
See how vague that is? How will they know when they've achieved this? Where to start? Why is it important to them? With so many unanswered questions, they can do better and maximize their odds of succeeding!
SMART Goal: In 2 months, I want to be able to create a simple app using Java, one of the most popular, useful coding languages for kids. I will add the app to my digital portfolio of coding projects.
What do you notice here? Now, the goal is specific, has a determined outcome and timeline, and rationale as to why they're going after it in the first place.
So, spend some time setting kids and teens up for success by crafting SMART goals that are appropriate for experience levels and time commitments. If you find you need a little more information at this stage, that’s great! Do some research, and you’ll be better prepared to help get them started.
Looking for the best coding languages for beginners?
2. Assemble Resources
This may blend with step one, and honestly, that’s a good thing. You’ll want to get a sense of how kids are going to build those coding skills, and that will undoubtedly include some educational resources and platforms.
It’ll be tempting to pick up a copy of Coding for Dummies or follow a few blogs or websites and call it good. Resist that temptation! To truly become a well-rounded, experienced coder, it’s ideal to have a healthy mix of books, podcasts, tutorial videos, and reputable websites at your disposal.
Here are a few staples to add to your tool box at this stage:
Books: Publishing in print generally requires more vetting than publishing online, so check out these titles for some excellent, tried and true, resources.
Podcasts: Easy to throw into any after-school routine, coding podcasts can be handy and efficient self-education tools.
Tutorial Videos: Only have a few minutes? Looking for something specific for your child's coding project? Tutorial videos offer ready solutions. Codecademy, LinkedIn’s learning content, and Skillshare - just to name a few - offer a wealth of information in bite-sized video format.
Websites and blog posts: This is probably an obvious suggestion, but coding websites and blogs offer some of the most relevant, up-to-date info out there. Check these out to get started, and look no further than this coding guide just for kids if that’s what you need!
Plan out how each resource will fit into your SMART goal, and include them by name in your action steps.
3. Find a Community
Resources in hand, it’s time to find a supportive community to help track progress! It is said by some that by sharing goals, you’re much more likely to actually accomplish them. Hence this essential third step in becoming a better coder.
This community could be a friend, family member, your social media, or through an online coding community like Stack Overflow or other popular forums of like-minds.
Kids can share knowledge, and, what they want to accomplish! Better yet, they can share their goal and open the communication channels for checking in as they make progress.
4. Practice Makes a Programmer
Perfection is not a realistic goal and fails the “R” SMART Goal test, but practice and progress absolutely fit—especially if strategized.
The specific outcome in mind will determine the right outlet for practice—here are some suggestions based on experience level to help start:
Beginner and Intermediate : HackerEarth and Treehouse offer great beginner content and challenges for those with some coding experience.
Advanced: Topcoder and CodeWars provide sophisticated coding challenges.
All levels: HackerRank and Coderbyte have something for everyone.
Practice, iterate, and, learn, and kids will be well on their way to thinking and coding like the pros.
Those need to pair up with an expert instructor can also look to online coding tutors or after-school coding courses—live help and customized curriculum to help build skills while keeping the process fun and engaging.
5. Share Results!
Have kids check-in with their "community" as they progress towards goals, but now is the particularly sweet time to share what they've accomplished.
Help them celebrate by putting together a digital portfolio, social media post, or general rooftop to shout from; it’s important for them to know it's more than OK - and valuable - to take a moment to give themselves well-deserved pat on the back.
If you’re able, now is also a great time to seek out feedback from an expert; they’ll be able to offer constructive feedback, encouragement, and even suggestions for what to tackle next.
6. Repeat Steps 1-5
That’s right; a journey through programming is as infinite as the lines of code that power the Internet.
Think to yourself: what’s the best next step to keep growing as a coder? If you made an app, perhaps try your hand at coding a game or explore another coding language.
The sky’s the limit here, and know that iD Tech is cheering you on every step of the way!
Keep the Momentum Going
Need some inspiration to keep going? Check out this success story, and this amazing iD Tech camper who has gone on to create incredible things with code.
We specialize in each step of the process to becoming an amazing coder, and if your child could use some expert guidance from a fun, caring mentor, we’ve got you covered with a range of options for every learning style.
Check out our Virtual Tech Camps, Online Private Lessons, and Semester coding classes for kids.