When I was a kid, I couldn’t have imagined learning to code, build a website or create an app or a game. (OK, I still can’t imagine doing those things, but I can’t even properly work my son’s Kindle Fire, so I’m a bit of a mess when it comes to technology.) Our digital native children, however, eat this stuff up.
If you’re anything like me, you might want to encourage their desire to learn more about coding, but feel being virtually incapable of helping them figure it out. Enter, the CoderDojo Foundation, which can connect you to people who can help them. For free.
The CoderDojo movement believes that an understanding of programming languages is increasingly important in the modern world, that it’s both better and easier to learn these skills early, and that nobody should be denied the opportunity to do so.
To that end, we’ve built a global network of free, volunteer-led, community-based programming clubs for young people. Anyone aged seven to seventeen can visit a Dojo where they can learn to code, build a website, create an app or a game, and explore technology in an informal, creative, and social environment.
A quick search found three class options in my area that meet either once or twice a month for anywhere from an hour to two and a half hours.
Each Dojo is run by a volunteer in the community and the courses are not curriculum-based, so each class will be a little different. For the most part, though, the website says kids will start with Scratch, a visual programming tool, or by building their own website.
The Dojos each have their own website with additional class details or contact information for follow-up questions. Most classes require students to bring their own laptops, but some may have extras if your child doesn’t have access to one.
If you love the idea but don’t see any options in your area (and you are even slightly more tech-savvy than yours truly), the CoderDojo website also has information and online training for how to start your own course. They’ve got more than 2,000 courses going in more than 100 countries, so you’d be in good company.