Updated: Jul 29
I get hundreds of parents asking me how to get their kids started on coding. There are a confusing number of coding apps, platforms, resources and classes, even for the tech-savvy parent. If you are in that camp, let me explain why Scratch is the best resource for your kids to learn how to code.
Of course, it helps that it is completely free, but that’s not even its best part.
At what age should kids start learning how to code?
Before we go into the details of how, let me quickly just say that a child wouldn’t benefit much from starting to code before 8 years of age. Here’s the fun bit about starting age: within only a few hours of training, a novice 9 year old will catch up and level up against someone who’s already had 1 or 2 years of coding experience at a younger age. So you really don’t need to start too early. This is based on our research with over 200 younger kids who came to us with coding experience.
Remember that just by playing and interacting with the world around them – by living life – children are constantly developing the logical thinking aspect of coding anyway. The specific concepts can be picked up at any age without any disadvantage.
If you are starting at 9, even better and if you are 11 years, that’s still amazing. It’s never too late.
Now back to what is Scratch and why it’s the best.
What Is Scratch?
Scratch is a programming language and a safe, online community where children can code and share interactive media such as stories, games and animations with people from all over the world. It’s visual, very engaging, collaborative and easy-to-learn.
Scratch is designed for children between 8 and 16 years of age, but once you are a teenager and often even before that, you would want your child to graduate to a more advanced programming language (we like Python, not Java). Having said that, I still love creating with Scratch – just because it’s so delightful.
Why Kids Should Learn Scratch
(over other options)
First of all, Scratch is highly engaging because you are always creating - games, music, animations, videos, stories - which gives you happy hormones. The huge variety of delightful characters, sounds and backdrops make the coding experience exciting and fun. Learning happens along the way, without you realising. It’s magical.
I feel that the best part of Scratch is how collaboration is just built into the design. Your child will learn so much more just by looking at other people’s ideas and how they solve a particular problem. Scratch makes it incredibly easy to share your projects, get feedback on your creations and explore other people’s projects. Over time, you create more and more complex projects until you start solving real-life problems as you progress onto more advanced coding languages as you grow up.
Finally, Scratch was developed at MIT based on solid research by Harvard and MIT scientists on how children learn. On top of it, over the last 20 years, it has been getting constant feedback from millions of teachers and students around the world, which then gets incorporated into the Scratch platform itself. It’s hard to beat a platform that has had rich feedback from millions of real users.
Over to you
I wholeheartedly recommend Scratch.
Having said that, I must add that while there will be that rare child who will be able to learn how to code independently on a platform, in general, either you will have to get deeply involved as a parent or get them enrolled into more formal coaching - perhaps just like any other skill such as music or maths.
A little plug here: if you would like help, please feel free to sign up to our holiday camps or classes – not because we have written this blog, but because our fantastic courses for 8 - 17 year olds are designed to engage and inspire kids, taught by our exceptional teachers. Our teachers have years of industry experience (Amazon, Google, IBM etc.), have gone to MIT or teach at the top computing schools in the UK. Our promise to you - if you or we feel that your child is not learning or not having fun, we will refund you the entire fee (as we have always done), no questions asked.