10 Ways to Invest in a Kid’s Coding Future

By Camille McCue, Sarah Guthals

Part of Helping Kids with Coding For Dummies Cheat Sheet

There are so many ways to invest in your young coders coding future. Though a computer with an Internet connection and time and dedication are some of the best ways to invest, this list gives an overview of some of the ways parents we know have dedicated time or money to support their children in their coding adventures.

Coding workshops: Coding workshops are often 1-2 hours and are often held at community centers or libraries. They vary in price, but provide novice coders with a sense of community and an easy-to-finish project that they can feel proud of.

Coding camps: Camps are typically more expensive but offer full- or half-day’s for at least one week. These are great for school breaks and students often finish the camp having completed a larger project and having a sense of what to do next, on their own.

Coding classes (in person): In person coding classes are typically once per week and can happen during the school year (after school or on weekends). Students are often learning something specific and there is a guided curriculum, but they still gain a sense of community and growth.

Private tutors: For your budding coder who really wants to build something specific, a private tutor can help get your young coder ready for a high school or college class, support them outside of a class they are already taking, or help them create a very specific project that they have in mind.

Coding classes (online): Online classes are great for asynchronously learning; with the ability to watch videos, pause them, and re-watch them, students are able to learn a variety of things without the hassle of leaving their home. Sometimes you can still get a sense of community, depending on the platform.

Lego Mindstorms: Lego Mindstorms is an entire kit that integrates coding and robot building. A young coder can work on this on their own, or even create a team of people and recruit an adult to help lead them through the curriculum provided by Lego in its Education set.

Kano: Kano is an all-in-one, lightweight, DIY computer. Using a micro-controller as the computer (Raspberry Pi), and simple mouse, keyboard, and speakers, young coders can quickly wire up their computer and play Minecraft, jump on the web, or start coding.

Codable toys: A great gift for the young coder is codable toys. With edutainment like Little Bits, or the Dash and Dot Robots, coding can be for an immediate purpose—changing and interacting with the world around you.

Computers and devices: A big question is always what kind of device to get for a young coder. Often hand-me-down computers (OSX or Windows) can be useful, as long as they can run the programs your young coder is looking to run. If you’re primarily working on the web, a Chromebook can be a great option (especially for Scratch coders). And every day more apps are coming out, making mobile devices more accessible to young coders too.

Software: Most software that a young coder will want to use is free; however, sometimes it can make sense to invest in software to support the entire development process. Software like Photoshop or Illustrator can invite more artistic folks into the coding world, integrating their creations into software like Blender or Maya to create games in game engines like Unity.