9 ways to teach kids how to code: What are the best resources to inspire a new generation of UK developers?

Nine tools and courses to teach kids to code and program. Read on to find out more about resources to support and inspire young people to learn coding and programming skills outside of school.

With the introduction of the computing curriculum to schools last year, there are now more kids than ever getting to grips with the fundamentals of coding.

But equipping young people with the tools to succeed in an increasingly digital world needn’t begin and end in the classroom.

There are many online resources and programming clubs available throughout the UK: whether to provide the building blocks for a career in software development, inspire the Silicon Roundabout startups of the future, or simply to equip youngsters with a basic understanding of technology. In fact, some may even help parents learn a thing or two as well.

So where to get started? Here are some of the best ways to help kids begin coding….

Code Club

Code Club

The Code Club initiative began in 2014 to provide after-school lessons for children aged between nine and 11. More than 2,000 such clubs are now active across the UK, with Google and Raspberry Pi among those backing the project.

Volunteer programmers and developers spend an hour a week at schools and libraries, showing children how to produce computer games, animations and websites. This involves teaching Scratch, HTML, CSS and Python.

Code Club has also expanded internationally with the aim of creating 14,000 clubs in total. In a bid to reach a wider audience, it services are also now available online.

Code Kingdoms

Code Kingdoms

London-based edtech startup Code Kingdoms launched a free game earlier this year designed to teach children aged six to 13 how to code and support the UK’s new national computing curriculum.

The browser-based game uses the JavaScript language to create fantasy worlds that can be shared with friends. Children can work independently or in teams to build game levels, code new characters or explore the built-in worlds while aiming to defeat evil “Glitches”, the characters that seek to put bugs into code.

CoderDojo
Image: CoderDojo

CoderDojo

CoderDojois a global initiative that offers free, volunteer-led programming clubs for young people aged between seven and 17.

Kids attending the community-based events are taught how to code, develop websites, apps, programs, games and explore technology in an informal and creative environment, the group says.

Dojos have been popping up across the UK in recent years, with London, Manchester, Glasgow and Leeds among the cities hosting events.

Barclays Code Playground
Image: Barclays

Barclays Code Playground

Banks are increasingly reliant on digital channels to reach their customers, and helping to ensure that more people in the UK can use online and mobile banking helps achieve this.

Launched earlier this year, the Barclays Code Playground website offers youngsters an introduction to the world of programming, as well as allowing parents to book ‘coding sessions’ at 300 branches where they too can learn digital literacy skills.

Code First: Girls

Code First: Girls

The tech industry continues to be male-dominated, but Code First: Girls aims to address the problem by creating communities for young women interested in developing technical skills such as programming.

Hundreds of young women are currently enrolled on programmes and learning how to code through Code First: Girls, with more than 1,500 taking part in events and courses run by the social enterprise in the last 18 months.

Makers’ Academy

Makers’ Academy

Aimed at a slightly older audience, Makers Academy’s intensive 12-week bootcamp trains people in Ruby on Rails, HTML, CSS, Node JS and more, providing web development skills to help junior developers enter employment upon completion of the course.

Although targeted at more mature students, no knowledge of coding is required to join the course.

It is also getting tougher: as of December Maker’s Academy has introduced a four week, part time, online 'pre-course' which all students are required to complete before enrolling.

Codeacademy
Image: Codeacademy

Codeacademy

Online programming course Codeacademy caters for a range of age groups, but those aged 12 can get started with Python, Ruby, PHP, HTML, or JavaScript, even APIs.

The US firm opened its first international office in London last year, and its resources have been used by over 1,000 schools in the UK, while it has struck partnerships with the likes of Code Club.

Tynker
Image: Tynker

Tynker

US startup Tynker released an iPad app that introduces the basics of programming last year, and has since been expanded to Android. Based on the firm’s website – launched in 2013 - children are able to solve puzzles using a drag and drop interface similar to MIT’s simple 'Scratch' coding language.

The free service has proved popular with millions of users across the world, and is used in thousands of schools across the US.

Code Monster

Code Monster

Code Monsteris a browser-based tutorial or game which aims to teach one of the most widely used programming languages, JavaScript.

Aimed at kids aged nine to 14, Code Monster encourages them to experiment with the size, shape and location of objects and animations using live code.

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