“Did you know that your son can solve a Rubik’s Cube with his eyes closed?!?”
“Trevor just found FOUR four-leaf clovers in 15 minutes! That’s insane!”
My oldest thinks algorithmically. Algebraic thinking has always come easily for him, and anything that relies on patterns or involves anomolies in patterns are a delight to him. He solves cubes with his eyes closed because it’s a bigger challenge that way. He finds four-leaf clovers in every field we visit because they don’t fit the pattern of the three-leaf ones that blanket the area and so they jump out at him.
I try to encourage and stretch this brain of his every chance I get so I’m always on the lookout for learning opportunities for him, especially if they compliment his algorithmic way of thinking. Computer coding is almost a no-brainer.
This fall, I introduced him to Coding Foundations, a course by Alex Leone. Coding Foundations features 40 different lectures and over 120 hours of projects and assignments, and is delivered virtually through online, self-paced lessons. It’s been kind of a busy time for us with theater performances and a new co-op, and so our at-home stuff has suffered a little and I didn’t get both my high schooler and middle schooler started on the course as I’d hoped to, but my high schooler has dived into it. My middle schooler is looking forward to starting on the course in the next week or so. (I’ll share her impression of it and her experiences on my social media, so follow along…) Alex also provided my community manager with a course for her public-schooled middle-schooler to try as an enrichment or afterschooling option.
It’s a great foundational course, and Alex has a natural way of teaching it. I love, especially, how he focuses on helping kids learn to think like coders and not just learn in a rote way. This is a class that teaches — it’s not just another internet tutorial. The creator is a professional software developer, and has a knack for breaking it down in a kid-friendly way. They are clear in the instruction – no assumptions are made that the student will have come to the table already knowing all of the tricks. The instructions are so clear that your student with zero coding experience will be able to pick up what’s being taught, and use it.
If your kiddo, like my teen, has a great deal of experience with “messing around” in programs or with coding books, apps, and programs, then this is a course he or she may fly through.
Which isn’t a bad thing.
Trevor is almost 16 and finds things like this easy for him, but often flies through, recklessly, and then realizes later that he’s missed the boat on some of the key projects. With this course, I found that Trevor was listening to the lectures, assuming that he already knew what the instructor was talking about, and then skipping out on the projects. Once I realized this, we were able to talk about it and Trevor discovered all of the projects and opportunities he’d skipped over, so he went back (a great feature of the program being self-paced) and is now exploring what all he’s missed.
And guess what? He’s now loving it all.
Related: Cultivating Critical Thinkers , The Need for Flexibility When Teaching Your Gifted Kids
His sister is now chomping at the bit to try it out herself. She’s always struggled with math, science, and coding, and so this course is going to be perfect for my bright 11 year old. That self-paced feature will come in handy for her so that she can take her time learning and practicing the concepts before moving on to the next lesson. The video tutorials are not so full of coding lingo that she won’t be able to keep up as a beginner. It’s a great course option for new coders, and even gifted elementary-aged kiddos who are interested in learning about tinkering and coding.
The public-schooled middle schooler who tried out Coding Foundations initially got as rushed as Trevor and skipped around a bit, only to discover just how important it is to truly understand the foundations of coding before diving into becoming a world-class hacker.
If your child has some experience with coding – or is just one of those kids like ours who likes to rush – you will want to keep an eye on their progress to make sure they’re actually completing the lessons and learning what will be needed, not just rushing ahead to an imaginary finish line or fun project.
They’ll realize quick enough just what a big difference a single missing keystroke can make, and Coding Foundation’s lessons take the time to explain just that.
Scratch from MIT is the programming language used, and it’s straightforward and helps kids think creatively. We’ve long been fans of Scratch and it’s great having specific projects for the kids to work on in the language.
There’s no doubt that technological know-how and an understanding of basic computer coding will continue to grow in importance, and most likely will become more necessity than hobby. I think Coding Foundations is going to fine-tune Trevor’s programming abilities and grow Molly’s skills and confidence, as well as give them both a well-rounded education when it comes to understanding coding.
Related: Encourage Innovative Thinking in Your Kids , Diving Down Rabbit Holes and Following Kids’ Interests
I’m thrilled that Alex from Coding Foundations has offered Raising Lifelong Learners readers a 10% coupon code to use on the purchase of the course — just enter LIFELONGLEARNERS at checkout. The course includes lifetime access so you can go through it as many times as you need a refresher, and also includes a year of personal support from the instructor, which is almost unheard of!
The lifetime access means there is no rush to complete a course if you are using it as an enrichment option for a traditionally-schooled kiddo, and that it’s always there if your child needs a break or a little extra time and support.
If you are looking for an in-depth introduction to basic coding skills, as well as projects the kids can enjoy while they flex their new coding muscles, you’ll definitely want to check out Coding Foundations.