Code, as defined by Code.org, is: The language that programmers create and use to tell a computer what to do. Has your child tried coding? Coding is a skill that most kids and parents have heard of, and some may have even tried. But many people still associate coding with super-smart, tech experts and are intimidated by the concept.
The Hour of Code is the perfect time to demystify coding and introduce kids of all ages to the wonderful language of coding. And, the best part is, it’s completely free on HourofCode.com. Introducing your child to 60 minutes of coding really could open countless possibilities for his or her future!
What is Hour of Code?
Hour of Code is an international celebration of coding that takes place every year in December, during Computer Science Education Week. During this week, Code.org challenges kids and parents alike to expose themselves to a 1-hour, interactive coding lesson and activity.
“An hour is the perfect start!” says Debra Smith, Sylvan Learning Franchisee in Nebraska and STEM enthusiast. “It gives kids a good opportunity to work through frustrations or fears and be successful. At the end of the hour, they’re ready for more.”
Many Hour of Code activities are self-guided, which means you can do this at home with your child. (And, you don’t have to be in the computer science field!)
While many of the activities are gaming and video game related, there are also lots of graphic based, illustration based and music related activities for kids who may be more interested in music and art coding activities!
“Sometimes we think coding is all gaming,” says Debra, “but there are LOTS of other things.” All you have to do to participate in Hour of Code is pick the FREE tutorial you want to introduce and pick an hour — Code.org takes care of the rest. There are options for every age and experience-level, from pre-K to high school. And, not all tutorials require a computer. There are adult-lead, non-computer activities for non-readers!
Who Can Code?
“Coding isn’t just for computer programmers anymore,” says Emily Levitt, Sylvan Learning’s Vice President of Education. “It’s a vehicle for teaching 21st-century skills like, creativity, collaboration, critical thinking and communication.”
Emily says that while computers play a role in coding, what coding is really all about is logic. “A lot of people think [coding] is about computers, but it’s really about logic and understanding order.”
Besides logic and order skills, coding also teaches kids tenaciousness, because you really have to stick with it to learn new skills and progress. These are skills that are important for all careers!
The earlier you can make kids familiar and comfortable with coding, the more successful they’ll be. However, it’s never too late to begin coding!
“Coding will start to be a requirement, not just a special skill,” says Debra. “Giving kids a base and feel for it is really positive at any age.”
And, learning a new skill always takes some time and patience. But from Debra’s experience, she sees that age doesn’t play a huge role in coding success.
“The thing that has always amazed me,” says Debra, “is that they all learn at the same pace. Age doesn’t matter.”
How Can My Child Get Started?”
Ready to try out Hour of Code? Check out the parent step-by-step guide for how to get started on Hour of Code’s website. And, if you’re looking for more ways to get your child involved in coding and STEM, check out:
- Code.org for more lessons and activities
- Games and apps through Google Play and the App Store
- Talk with your child’s school to see if there are after-school clubs or local community groups
- Local kids museums, 4-H groups, Scouts and other child-focused organizations
- Your public library
- Your local Sylvan Learning for information on STEM programs and classes