20 February, 2022
Learning is best when it’s fun! In CodeAdvantage’s afterschool coding classes, kids get a comprehensive introduction to programming through project-based courses that combine core STEM concepts with exciting activities. Our classes for beginners don’t just teach kids the basics of coding but grow their confidence, encourage creative expression, and inspire new interests.
As the fastest-growing STEM program in the NYC area, with over 10,000 former students and a 100% retention rate in our afterschool programs, we understand what new coders need to begin their journey. Based on our experience working with top private and public schools in the country, we’ve written a guide to the best afterschool coding classes for beginners, according to each grade group.
The most popular afterschool coding classes for kindergarteners to 2nd graders is ScratchJr. ScratchJr is a visual-block coding platform that introduces kids to the very basics of computational thinking and programming. It is the version of Scratch (the hugely popular platform that we’ll mention below) that has been simplified to teach younger kids.
Kids drag and drop blocks of code into simple sequences to create their own interactive games, stories, and animations. With a purely visual interface, it’s so easy for kids to get started on ScratchJr. They select a character (known as a Sprite) and program it by connecting blocks, which are divided into colors for different functions (e.g., blue for motion, green for sound, purple for appearance). ScratchJr channels younger kids’ fantastic imaginations – they can record sounds and draw their own characters and backgrounds. Once they’ve got to grips with the platform, they can start writing simple programs!
In CodeAdvantage’s ScratchJr classes for K-2 graders, our expert instructors guide kids into coding from the very beginning. They start by adding Sprites and backgrounds and creating short animations, before learning to design their own Sprites and code interactions with different characters. Finally, they put all their coding knowledge into practice by programming and customizing their very own game or story! Past student projects include racing games, design a toy rocket, and theatre school.
Upper Elementary kids love learning to code with Scratch, a graphic programming language developed at MIT. Like its younger brother, Scratch also involves dragging and dropping blocks of code, allowing new coders to focus on learning the fundamentals of programming without getting bogged down in syntax. Scratch has a clear and appealing interface that is intuitive to use, but it is a more advanced platform where kids can program a wider range of projects involving more complex concepts.
Kids start by selecting a Sprite and programming them with different colored blocks. Like on ScratchJr, the blocks are arranged by function; but on Scratch kids can experiment with advanced functions such as events, control, variables, sensing, and operators. They can start simple and combine just a few blocks (e.g., coding their Sprite to walk a few steps and turn around) before developing much longer scripts comprising dozens of different blocks (e.g., programming their character to dance to music, drive through an obstacle course, or play with other characters). Kids using Scratch can easily switch blocks in and out and run their code with ease, which encourages constant experimentation.
All these exciting possibilities makes Scratch the most popular coding class for 3rd – 5th graders. Starting from scratch, kids learn fundamental concepts like sequencing and motion. Once they’ve mastered these, kids begin experimenting with variables and constructors, and programming with event and control blocks. Students can bring these skills together to design exciting and advanced games, with the addition of personalized graphics and sounds. In CodeAdvantage’s Scratch classes, past students have coded their own baseball match with multiple teams, designed a drawing app using math basics, and built an escape room puzzle.
- Learn about Scratch and our other Upper Elementary classes.
Older children have the typing abilities to start their coding journey with text-based languages. The most popular afterschool coding class for 6th – 8th graders is Python. Python is a powerful language that was used to build YouTube, Google, and Instagram, and kids can learn it to build their own multimedia apps and games. An introduction to Python is the first step towards becoming a “real world” programmer!
Even though it is used by professionals in the tech industries, Python is renowned for its simplicity in comparison to other text-based languages. Its syntax is more similar to plain English and its interface makes programs more readable than in other typed languages. Thanks to this, kids can learn advanced concepts such as Boolean, functions, loops, and data types, organize their programs into color-coded blocks, and easily spot and debug errors in their code.
In CodeAdvantage’s afterschool Python classes, kids start by learning basic data types, creating variables, and typing text, before moving onto conditionals, writing functions, organizing data, and creating objects. Once they’ve mastered these real-world programming skills, they can build all kinds of exciting games and applications that include graphics, animation, and sound! Some examples of our students’ projects include interactive word games and customized screensaver graphics.
- Learn about Python and our other Middle School classes.To explore the 20+ interactive coding, robotics, and tech afterschool courses that CodeAdvantage offers, check out our afterschool programs. If you’d like to enroll your child in one of our classes then please get in touch!