Learning to code has become as popular as the top national sports and with good reason! 

Recently, coding has gone from being a cool after school activity to becoming part of educational legislation. To us, it’s obvious why kids should learn to code. 33 states have passed bills in the last five years to officially offer programming in the school curriculum. Coding classes for kids have been integrated into traditional courses and many states are offering math and foreign language credit for taking programming classes. 

Coding is a foundational tool critical for student success in the 21st Century.

Coding classes are popping up left and right, and the challenge of finding the right coding class for your kid has become increasingly difficult. Variety is the spice of life but making choices and evaluating coding programs can be really complicated! 

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How to Evaluate Coding Classes for Your Kid 

Here are some of the major considerations when choosing the best coding class for your student.

Value:

Let’s start with an important aspect of any activity – PRICE. Parents have to consider budget. Coding classes can range from free to hundreds of dollars a month. Continuous learning is the best way for kids to actually “learn” the material so making sure they have access to a platform on which they can practice their skills at any time is vital. 

Convenience:

No one wants to make a long commute in order to get students to an activity. Are you willing to drive your student to classes and how far? Are you including the time spent in traffic to your evaluation? Or do you prefer an online course or one at your child’s school? Can you travel while your child is in the course?

Active Learning

The teaching method and style offered in top coding schools gravitate toward student-centered, active learning. Coding games for kids are popular and nothing beats being able to write code yourself. Active learning engages students more fully in the content and leads to a deeper and fuller understanding. Quality programs will offer students opportunities to present projects and practice skills with minimal lecture.

“The meta-analysis, published online today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, concluded that teaching approaches that turned students into active participants rather than passive listeners reduced failure rates and boosted scores on exams by almost one-half a standard deviation.” – Aleszu BajakMay from Science.com

Ages Served:

The best coding classes offer age-appropriate courses which increase in rigor and challenge as students mature. Classes with this type of continuity offer reliable routine and structure, important for kids of all ages. 

“Structure and routines teach kids how to constructively manage themselves and their environments.”- Aha Parenting 

Student/Teacher Ratio:

Class sizes can have an immense impact on learning. Thus, it is an important consideration when considering a coding class. Quality coding classes offer small class sizes so that individual student needs can be met. 

Flexible Schedule:

A key consideration in choosing a coding program is how the schedule and format fit into the family calendar. Quality coding classes will offer a variety of class durations and options to catch up via self-paced components or recorded review of classes if a session is missed. They should also have a solid teaching methodology that is published and followed by all teachers. Parents should see clear evidence of a well thought out pedagogy. Quality coding classes will gladly provide this information in detail.

Teachers:

Quality coding classes should require a full background check on all teachers, just as any school is required to do. Any adult interacting with students, whether online or in-person, should go through a full background check. A good coding school will also vet every teacher to be sure every teacher has the experience, knowledge, and enthusiasm necessary for a positive student experience. Your child’s safety and quality interaction are key when choosing a coding class.

Extra Help & Missed Classes: 

Children learn at different paces and it is important that they have help available when needed. A quality coding class will offer additional help for students who are struggling or have missed a class and need to catch up. Additional help should be easy to schedule at convenient times for the student.

The Curriculum:

Quality coding classes will offer paths for students to gain an overview of several languages and technologies, as well as the opportunity to focus on particular areas of interest. Students and parents should discuss which kinds of programs are the best fit. For instance, do your students want to learn about a theme? Or do you want the knowledge to be foundational and grow in a sequential way that can provide a well-rounded skill set? To illustrate the concept, let’s use a travel example. Before a trip to Europe, you might sign up for classes that teach basic phrases in several languages like ¡Hola! ¿Dónde está el baño? – Hello! Where is the bathroom? You would also study these same basic phrases in French or other languages that fit your itinerary. This would be “theme” based learning. Perhaps you decide you want to spend more time in France and want to learn the language in-depth. After in-depth study and practice, you will be able to speak fluent French to help make your trips to France more enjoyable. This idea is the same in coding; students can learn the basics of an “area” or can take a series of courses that can in time provide the ability for complex thoughts to be communicated.  

Community:

Quality programs create a community environment where students can communicate and interact with each other in a safe space. This sense of community can be a great support system and network for students struggling to learn difficult coding concepts. In addition, they can ask each other questions and even make new friends.

Prepare your child for success: If you are looking for your child to learn to code, explore our live, instructor-led coding classes. Thousands of satisfied students. Highly rated. [Find Out More]

What should I look for in a coding class for my kid?

We have asked some experts and #TechEduambassadors their opinion about how to choose the right coding class for your kid. These are their answers.

Brian A, Coding Classes for Kids

“The terms of service. While corporate apps need to monetize, tools like Scratch (built by teachers for teachers) respect student data and privacy.”

– Brian Aspinall

Brian is a globe-trekking educator on a mission to expose as many kids to Computer Science as possible. He is the author of @codebreakeredu, @blockbreakeredu, has given TEDx Talks, & received the prestigious Canadian Prime Minister’s Award. Follow him @mraspinall!

Grant S, Coding Classes for Kids

“There are so many coding programs available for kids that it’s hard to choose the right one. I’ve reviewed hundreds of programs over the years with very mixed results. The problem with evaluating programs is that very few parents have the technical and/or educational background to find the good ones. Good programs effectively teach the content. That means the program creators have a firm grasp on both pedagogical (how to teach kids) best practices and ability-appropriate content. 

The first thing I do when I evaluate a program is head over to the “Our Team” page on their website. I look for a strong educator and content expert on the team. Most programs lack an expert educator, believing that expert programmers are all that’s needed. If I don’t see an educator with classroom experience on the team, that’s a huge red flag, yet I see it all the time. 

Next, I look at what the kids will be doing in the program. I look for programs that balance providing content knowledge with open creativity. Many programs are too structured, leaving no room for creativity. If every kid’s project looks the same at the end of a lesson, that’s a problem. Kids learn coding best when they are able to express themselves through relevant projects. Kids should have a choice and be able to express their voice.

Lastly, I look at the programming environment itself. I look for age-appropriateness. Recent research has shown the benefits kids enjoy when they start their journey into coding using a visual block-based programming language. I look for block-based coding for elementary and younger. For middle school and above block-based isn’t a requirement, but it’s nice to see if they have a transitional option to start with block-based and move to a text-based language as they grow. I’ve noticed that most teams with an experienced educator choose appropriate coding environments because they understand the importance of scaffolding and meeting kids in their Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD). For middle school and younger, I couldn’t care less about “real-world professional programming languages,” don’t get caught in that trap.”

– Grant Smith

Grant is an educator fascinated by the challenge of teaching children computer science. Currently, he’s the Director of Education for codeSpark, a company focused on teaching elementary kids how to code. When he’s not teaching, he’s writing. He’s the author of Everything You Need to Ace Coding and Computer Science in One Big Fat Notebook. He has also written multiple coding curricula. For more information, visit Grant at http://wgrantsmith.com or on Twitter @wgrantsmith.

Rachelle P, Coding Classes for Kids

“I think it is always important to figure out what the purpose is when using any tech, or teaching something like coding. There, of course, are concerns about access and that has to be the first consideration is making sure students have access, the resource is something that will benefit students beyond short term and that will help them to develop a variety of skills.

 I like trying to find resources that parents can also use to work with/learn with students at home as well.  I try to focus on how it can be used, beyond for a computer science course, or STEAM, how can we apply it beyond certain content areas and grade levels.”

– Rachelle Dene Poth

Rachelle is a French, Spanish and STEAM Teacher. She also works as an EdTech Consultant, through THRIVEinEDU LLC. You can follow her on Twitter or visit her website. She is the author of “In Other Words” and “The Future is Now” bit.ly/Pothbooks. 

Jamie D, Coding Classes for Kids

As students move from being content consumers to content creators, the CodeWizardsHQ program prepares them to create AR & VR of the future.”

– Jamie Donally 

Jaime Donally is a passionate technology enthusiast. She began her career as a math teacher and later moved into Instructional Technology. Follow her on Twitter or visit her website

Brandie M, Coding Classes for Kids

“When looking at programs, look for the benefits after the program. Skillset and knowledge that will be gained. An experience that can be useful when applying for colleges and jobs. You will then see the value in the money or time spent, building for the future.”

– Brandie Ann Meister

Brandie is the director of ChickTech-Austin an organization that engages women & girls of all ages in the tech industry while working to create a better tech culture for all. Learn more at https://chicktech.org/

Elizabeth R, Coding Classes for Kids

“Before selecting a coding program I think that parents should ask themselves two questions. One, will my child be challenged by the material? And two, will my child be engaged by the material? Finding the perfect balance between what a student will be challenged by and what the student will enjoy, will ensure that students feel they are making good use of their time and that parents are making good use of their money.”

– Elizabeth Rodriguez

Elizabeth is the Executive Director of SoHacks. The largest Hackathon of the South. 

Domingo G, Coding Classes for Kids

“As a parent, you want to encourage your kids to be curious, creative, and seek joy when learning. When learning a programming language, I would advise to start with the end result goal, maybe building a game or a fun tool, and then working backward to build it. That also gives the opportunity to build the same game/tool with a few different programming languages to see their advantages & disadvantages.”

– Domingo Guerra 

Domingo is a Mexican Entrepreneur that took Silicon Valley by storm with Appthority a mobile security company, co-founded and later sold to Symantec. Follow him on Twitter.

Chris B, Coding Classes for Kids

“The instructor and his/her ability to connect with the students.”

– Chris Butler

Chris is the CEO of URAllowance, he is focused on education and preparing our youth for tomorrow. Follow him on Twitter.

Deborah W, Coding Classes for Kids
  1. That it fits in their schedule (not taking up too much time each lesson) broken down into short components.
  2. That the lessons are easily understood by the student and do not need extensive help from the teacher. (Independent work preferred).
  3. That the coding program transfers over to a future career benefit/opportunity.
  4. If for higher education, there is a guide or understanding of how many credits the completion of the course would give on a transcript.
  5. The coding program uses up to date technology and/or languages

– Deborah Wuehler

Deborah is the Senior Editor, Director of Production at The Old Schoolhouse Magazine,  the