Six ways to teach kids to code
Inspiring children to have an interest in coding and computers doesn’t mean you have to park them in front of a keyboard – there’s loads of alternatives.
However, there are many other resources available for getting children – and the rest of us – off to a good start with coding. Here are a few of our other favourites.
If you read PC Pro with any regularity, you’ll have heard of this wonderful Cambridge computing project. The Raspberry Pi is a low-cost computing board, perfect for learning to code and for fun do-it-yourself projects.
To get started coding in Python, take a look at our tutorial, while our contributing editor Kevin Partner has also written a whole book about using Python on Raspberry Pi. The second edition is entitled the Ultimate Guide to the Raspberry Pi.
This inexplicably popular game isn’t about only stacking digital blocks. With a little coding nous and a mod called ComputerCraft, you
can rebuild the Minecraft world to your desire. The mod uses a programming language called Lua, which is used in some schools, to send “turtles” out into Minecraft to do tasks.
There’s a tutorial on the mod available here.
If rows of text terrify you or intimidate your child, get started with the principles of programming in a game. For example, the much-maligned “Year of Code” project has a Moshi Monsters-themed game that lets you alter aspects of the characters and background colours.
If you’d prefer open source, check out CodeCombat. It’s a multiplayer game that aims to teach you how to program as you play, and it’s free.
If you know nothing about programming, but your child wants to learn, find out if there’s a Code Club at their school or in the local area. These volunteer-led coding clubs are designed for children aged 9 to 11, and use Scratch, HTML and Python to build games and websites. Alternatives include CoderDojo and Computer Clubs for Girls.
Once you’ve tried the BBC BASIC tutorial you could head to The National Museum of Computing at Bletchley Park, where there’s a suite of BBC Micros that are still running.
At the end of July, Young Rewired State is holding a Festival of Code in Plymouth, while Maker Faire has a host of “mini” events around the UK that should help you find inspiration. Or, send your child to a tech camp to learn game and app design.