Interested in learning about computer classes for kids but you don’t know where to begin? While most of us think the only thing for kids to do on the computer is play games, that’s not the case these days. There are many computer classes for kids popping up either online or at learning centers like The DAE that teach a variety of STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, & Math) based classes. And we’re not talking about building random things out of marshmallows and spaghetti, we’re talking about foundational and creative tech skills (and soft skills) that will give students a huge advantage as they grow up and become productive members of future society. There are also a bunch of free programs and websites that teach kids to program, model and create using the computer. The best part: kids love learning when what they’re being taught is presented as fun! (We know firsthand since we see it everyday!) If you have a child that loves the computer, keep reading.
Here are 7 computer classes for kids every parent should know exist
and how they’re beneficial to your children.
1) Scratch Coding (age 6+)
Scratch is a website built by MIT that allows users to create projects ranging from games, to animations and stories using drag and drop command blocks that stack together to create code, and is specifically designed to make programming fun and easy. Students start with the hour of code and then explore the ins and outs of creating games with Scratch. By the end of the class, students will have originally designed video games to share with friends and family. With a basic understanding of how a computer works (using the trackpad or mouse and being able to find keys on the keyboard), kids as young as 5 or 6 can create some pretty awesome projects. We’ve seen older kids 9-11 years old create complex multi-level video games.
The benefit: Young children are introduced to programming concepts early on, giving them an advantage later if they decide to explore computer science further. It also teaches project planning and time management.
2) Python Programming (must be able to read and type)
Python Programming is a popular computer class. Python is a widely known text-based, object-oriented programming language that can be used to create text and graphic games, quizzes, interactive artwork and more. Python is an ideal starter language because it is easy to write, easy to read, and is used in the real world. Students begin by +writing simple projects to develop familiarity with the language and move onto creating interactive text-based games and even drawing with code.
The benefit: kids who have a grasp of typing can begin learning to program without getting tripped up on the syntax of a more complicated programming language like Java, C#, or C++.
3) Java Programming (strong typing skills required)
When kids/teens have a firm hold on typing, they can learn to program games in one of the most commonly used programming languages in the world: Java. Minecraft, Android apps, and robots are just three of the hundreds of ways that Java is used in the real world. Kids can explore the basics of Java through building arcade-style video games or programming a stop light. Using Greenfoot or Eclypse, (platforms designed to make learning Java fun and easy) students learn the basics of writing and debugging Java to create real, working games.
The benefit: Java is an industry-standard programming language. Programmers are in higher demand than ever before, so there are obvious benefits to listing your knowledge of Java on a college application or resume.
• Did you know that The Digital Arts Experience in Scarsdale offers computer classes for kids and teens in programming and more? Learn more.
4) Robotics with Edison (age 7+)
Edison is an educational robot used to teach kids computational thinking and computer programming in a fun, interactive way. Using computer software and connecting the robot via USB, students instruct their robots with either text or block based code to respond to light, follow paths, communicate with other robots and more. Occasionally, they take LEGO® figures for a ride.
The benefit: the physical aspect of coding a robot creates a tactile experience for kids and incorporates the element of play. Kids experiment with success and failure alike, which promotes a healthy relationship with failure, iteration, and problem solving.
5) 3D Printing & Modeling (age 6+)
Students learn about 3D printers and modeling in 3D space. They learn to build small models such as pencil holders, name tags amongst other things. Students can dream it up or use an image video to draw inspiration and model their vision. They learn about the history of 3D printers, the different types, how to level the build plate and load filament, in addition to the limitations of the technology. Typically, kids leave with 3D printed objects they designed themselves.
The benefit: kids become accustomed to working in 3D space, which can translate to learning all sorts of other CAD or animation programs down the line. Whether designing jewelry, becoming an animator or an architect is in a child’s future, this foundational knowledge can be a great jumping off point for exciting future knowledge.
- Check out the Mommy Poppins blog on best STEM/STEAM camps in Westchester!
6) Stop Motion Animation (age 6+)
Kids learn how movies like The Nightmare Before Christmas, Wallace and Gromit, and more were made. Stop motion animations are created by taking lots of individual pictures and playing them back at a certain speed to create movement. Students will explore stop motion animation by creating stories with Legos, alternatively known as “brick films.” Students learn concepts like frame rate, lighting, storyboarding, and how to add sound.
The benefit: Kids as young as 5 and 6 years old can gain computer experience while they have fun and create with LEGOs.
7) 3D Game Design (age 13+)
Using a program called Unity, teens learn how to build a challenging platformer in 3D. Unity is a powerful open source game design tool. The class builds a pre-designed level in their game as a group to learn the basics, then they get to design and build their own custom levels to add to their game. Each student completes the class with a finished game that can be played on any computer.
The benefit: Because they’re immersed in the building their video game, students are distracted from the fact that they’re absorbing a LOT of information involving 3D space, lighting, texturing, rigging, coding, animating, project-planning, problem-solving, math… you get the idea.
If you’re curious about computer classes for kids online, check out the Hour of code, codecademy, Khan Academy or Grok Learning. And if you live in the Westchester County area, feel free to give us a call at 914-644-8100 or pay us a visit at 303 Central Park Ave. in Scarsdale.
Learn more about classes, summer camps and workshops at the Digital Arts Experience