2020-2021 delivered their fair share of surprises—but through the adjustments and hardships, it has opened up new doors of opportunity. Not just with the coding classes we will get to in a second, but just in general.
For kids and teens, school might have been tough to endure from a distance, but that just meant looking to new learning opportunities. And socially, they might have seen their friends less than usual, but that just meant finding new ways to connect.
A lot of what became newly available in order for families and kids to make these necessary adjustments revolves around online experiences.
For instance, regardless of whether or not your child is going into the classroom right now or learning from home, they might be craving alternative learning solutions; one where they aren't fighting for the attention of their teachers with 30 others. There is in fact the opportunity for this more personal and customized learning endeavor online.
And then, think about the after-school enrichment activities kids used to look forward to weren't currently available. They needed to fill time by diving into something else, and while they couldn't go off to something like robotics club when class let out, a lot of those opportunities switched to being offered online.
And last, as mentioned above, kids and teens simply missed their friends; or missed the opportunity to make new friends. Given that many were keeping their distances, they had to turn to online means to meet, chat, connect, and simply have fun.
So, taking all of that into consideration - the need to learn, but learn differently, and to do so outside of school, and to do so with others - coding for kids, and online coding specifically grew significantly in popularity.
And now, while more and more people get back together in person in here in 2022, the online learning experience proved more than worthy enough to stick around.
My gut tells me a lot of this, but I'm also not just guessing—take a look at this Google trends for "online coding classes for kids."
The popularity of the term - while it certainly hit its peak in 2020, is still more popular than where it was pre-pandemic.
(Meaning, you're certainly not alone in your pursuit of an online coding opportunity for your young one.)
Online Coding Classes for Kids & Teens
If you're here reading this, then you already see the need, and probably already understand the importance of getting your child involved in coding.
The questions, then, are where, and how can they do so? And from who can they learn from?
The good, short answer is that there isn't any shortage of opportunity, from a one-on-one online coding tutor, to after-school coding courses, and more. If your child has an interest in learning coding, they can certainly do so.
I'd also like to add, there are a number of coding websites, apps, and other online portals that help kids and teens learn coding. I do briefly mention these at the end of the post, but in my mind, a "class" has to include some type of live instruction aspect—that is, a live instructor who is teaching to students, or, at the least, even a recording of that instruction.
Given that, here are 10 online coding classes; each of which that is led by a live instructor, with students learning in a group setting, or via a one-on-one tutoring course.
When considering whether or not your child is ready for an online coding course, go about answering the question by asking these preliminary questions:
Does your child enjoy video games? If so, would learning to code through games be the best approach?
In the end, there are a number of ways to teach coding to kids, but some of the most successful endeavors apply coding to things kids are already familiar with (like video games, or even social media, or robotics).
By allowing kids to see what code has already created, and then, how code can change those things, kids can easily experience the positive reinforcement found via "If I do this, then that happens," etc.
With Python, one of the best coding languages for kids, students can learn to code—declaring, initializing, and using variables; working with strings, characters, and algorithms, and more. But in addition, they can also explore the inner workings of artificial intelligence and machine learning.
This one isn't a single course suggestion, and that's just because there are many to choose from, including:
An important thing to remember about coding is that it's not all just "kid and screen." Coding powers so much, and reaches so far, that you can get your child involved in a coding class that features a particular video game title, or as in this case, robotics.
In an online course like virtual robotics, students are learning to program through block-based coding, meaning, graphical code blocks (similar to Scratch) are used to "teach" bots to perform certain tasks, like navigate a maze, while students get familiar with AI and computational thinking.
Tools: Roblox, Lua
Concepts: Coding & Game Dev
Learn more: How to Make a Game Using Roblox Studio
See a theme here? Robots, video games, and now Roblox? Kids find comfort in what they already know, and while it's always great to push comfort levels, you also want to avoid extinguishing the desire to learn something new.
So, back to Roblox—it's only one of the fastest-growing game creation platforms in the world, right? Students at our Roblox summer camps have been learning to code with Lua for a while now, but now students have the ability to jump into an online coding class that features much of the same.
Design, monetize, and publish—Roblox offers it all. Aspiring coders can also practice programming fundamentals with Lua in order to ultimately create the game of their dreams, and making it available for their friends to play as well.
Tools: Minecraft, Java
Concepts: Coding & Game Dev
Learn more: Educational benefits of Minecraft
Yes, Minecraft! Again, games are a great launching point for kids and teens to get involved in coding. Specifically, Minecraft modding allows students to get familiar with Java coding to customize gameplay—for instance, creating new items, changing textures, and making other tweaks for a fresh and new experience.
Using variables, functions, and control structures, students learn to code in Java, while tuning up their logical thinking and problem-solving skills.
The art of hacking makes coding even more intriguing to learn! Kids will learn the ins and outs of how to code a website and think like a hacker. The benefits of learning hacking and coding skills translate to building a programming repertoire and, of course, learning what it takes to compete in hackathons! The benefits of hackathons include building critical thinking, teamwork, and analytical skills, plus, hacking can (literally) unlock an awesome learning experience.
As you can see, or will see shortly, the coding umbrella is big and wide, housing not only different types of creations, but also a number of different languages and methods to go about things.
Think about it—what is it that makes video games fun and interesting? Some get lost in the lifelike nature of titles, while others obviously play for the ongoing entertainment factor.
In addition, though, one huge factor is the game development, and specifically, game design principles. From classic arcade games to new-age RPGs, a 2D canvas can offer young creators the chance to create pixelated art assets, or to learn how to program with gravity, collisions, and more.
So, in a coding course with Unity and the coding language C#, students can combine an eye for game design and mechanics with coding in order to level up their tech skills.
Concepts: Coding & Game Dev
Learn more: Java for Kids
Arrays, loops, and if statements—are these scary words? They can be, right? But not in the right, supportive learning environment. Especially for kids who want to get started learning a brand new skill like coding, the act of doing so can be difficult enough, without having to learn new coding terms.
But think about it this way...any word can be broken down to simple terms...like, isn't an algorithm is simply a set of rules to follow?
Thus, Java coding can be used to understand programming essentials, make apps and games, and build a deeper understanding of algorithms. In other words, Java is a perfect language to unlock the world of computer science.
10. Visual Coding and micro:bit (micro:bit Included!)
Concepts: Coding & Robotics
Learn more: micro:bit
Last but certainly not least, when looking for an online coding class, it might be easy to accept the fact that it's going to be your child and a screen, and devoid of any "hands-on" work outside of hands being on a keyboard.
Which is why I'm excited to say, that doesn't always have to be the case! Thanks to visual coding and the micro:bit, students can literally hold the power of code in their hands.
As mentioned above, a "class" is typically more than a website or portal with which a child navigates to learn coding. That said, many families turn to such solutions to get their kids rolling with coding.
There are pros and cons, and advantages and drawbacks to any learning scenario, so the best online coding class for your kids is the one that satisfies your unique needs.
That can be a course with the supervision of a teacher, or one that has a social learning component where students are able to work with other students, and even one in which your students can jump on with immediately while pointing and clicking their way to coding success.