So You Want to Be a Coder, Eh Kid? {Review}

The big talk on all the RV lifestyle boards inevitably turns to how a person makes a living. Having a job that is flexible enough for full-time travel is an enormous consideration before making the plunge…or burning the rubber. While we make our money primarily as Christians musicians, my wandering eye can’t help but notice the rigs and tow vehicles of people in the computer industry are a bit shinier and longer and have a bit less duct tape therapy than ours does. Just a little joke there…except it’s completely true. Pretend there’s a really slick segue here.

Today I’m going to tell you about a live coding class that our Elijah recently took. It was offered by CodeWizardsHQ, who offers 12-week classes for both traditional school kids and homeschool coders-to-be in the 5-10 grade range.

Live Class Computer Programming for your Students {CodeWizardsHQ}

Before I tell you about the class, I’m going to tell you why we thought it was a good idea for Elijah to take the course. Flexibility.

“Not every child who learns to write will become a novelist, nor everyone who learns algebra a mathematician, yet we treat both as foundational skills that all children should learn. Coding is the same.”

If I had a dollar for everybody who said he wished he could do what we’re doing, not only would we be able to replace that tire that just had a nail shot through its sidewall, but we’d probably have quite a bit less duct tape on the rig. A main reason people give for not “living their dreams” is they don’t have enough . money saved or can’t get away from their jobs long enough. Working as a coder would allow enough remote job freedom to pursue the lifestyle a person feels called to.

“Understanding that in the future no profession is untouched by machines means admitting that coding is part of the liberal arts, and therefore a core skill every child must possess.”

Also, while old school educational philosophy claims a child should learn reading, writing, and ‘rithmetic because that’s what he’ll be using in the real world, consider that the world has changed. Most things in modern society are in some way attached to coding, so doesn’t it make sense that a child should have a basic grasp of coding to function in the real world. (I also think they should know how to cook and grow veggies, but that’s a story for another day.)

Now that you know the why, here’s the what.

The course that Elijah took was a one-hour class introducing the child to the world of coding. It was, from my understanding, the first course in the program if you start at the beginning. It was a great way to find out if the student was truly interested in coding enough to enroll in a full course without making the commitment yet.

The class was live. That is, there was a live instructor who could view the students’ screens from wherever on earth he was. He showed the students how to do some basic html coding. Then he gave them instructions to work on a project. As they worked, he could check their coding and answer questions the students might be having. Near the end of the hour, the students had a chance to share their work which, in this case, was a comic strip.

Here is part Elijah’s:

Scroll to the very bottom of this post to see what the code looks like and to view the full comic. He also wants me to share this disclaimer: the cheesy first box was done for him and he was told to work from there. Ha ha. 

There were many perks to the live instruction. If the child was having problems and couldn’t fix it on his own, the teacher was there to immediately get him back on track. Also, as was the case in our class, a child fell behind. The instructor took the time to help that student along.

This brings to mind one of the downfalls of group classes–teaching to the middle. Some students pick up topics faster and have to wait, while others lag behind and might get lost. That was my concern when one of the seven students in the group was struggling and my son was already finished with the task at hand. But it wasn’t a problem at all. The instructor gave out a project for the class to work on and then went back and assisted the other girl who rapidly caught up to the group and had a fine project by the end.

Class sizes range from four to eight students, so the instructor is never overwhelmed by needs. Students have the option of discussing things in a chat box or orally. Our class worked orally, which was great, since that left their hands and eyes free to work on their coding.

This does require a quiet space, which, as you know in my life of ten people in a travel trailer, is not always feasible. We used the church nursery at the church where we were singing and staying (Hope Lutheran in Spearfish, South Dakota), since nobody needed that on a Monday morning. It worked beautifully!

And the best part–Elijah didn’t need to comb his hair before coming into class!

According to our instructor, if students stick with the program, they will be eligible for a six-month internship with non-profits that will provide them with real world coding experience to solidify what they learn in the coding classes. They will be ready for employment and will be far beyond where they would be in the early level college classes…from my understanding. If this is something your student (or you) wants to pursue seriously for a career, ask lots of questions. They are happy to talk to you. Don’t be intimidated by the avatar.

The classes are marketed to students in grades five through ten. Elijah is in sixth grade and truly loved this class. It was well within his abilities. He has done some basic coding in the past, but this provided an excellent review and taught him a few more things. If your student has coding experience, there is a placement exam they can take to place them in the appropriate level. (Personally, if you’re an adult interested in coding, I can’t think why this would not be appropriate for you–big kids can make comic strips, too!)

Please understand that, while all we took was one lesson, the courses are each 12 weeks long and all fit together into a comprehensive unit that prepares your child for the workforce or college coding specialties. Comic books are merely the beginning.

This is not just for homeschool kids. In fact, the class caters to traditionally schooled children, scheduling most classes on weekends, in the evenings, or in boot camps over the summer. They can arrange times for homeschool groups as well. Classes begin throughout the year.

That said, homeschoolers can get a discounted rate based on the number of people in the group. Also, class times are very flexible, so a homeschool group can select a time that will work for them. Score!

“Whether it’s understanding how complicated systems like economies work or tackling a problem in a stepwise fashion, coding is uniquely suited to training children not just how to solve problems, but also how to express themselves.”

You might be confused after all that yammering without a single cheesy joke or mention of cookies–I know, I’m just not myself lately! Let me hook you up with some links so you can research a bit more of what specifically interests you:

Live Class Computer Programming for your Students {CodeWizardsHQ}

The following social media links will help you get a better feel for the company also:

Some of the other Review Crew parents can give you their thoughts, since they were in different classes than Elijah was. Read their reviews right here or click on the banner below:

Hey, thanks for sticking around. I’d love to know if this is something you eventually pursue for your kids, and how it works for you.

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