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Coding for Kids: The Ultimate Guide for Parents [Updated 2021]

June 13, 2021

Coding for kids (otherwise known as computer programming) is growing rapidly in popularity.

Coding for Kids

Coding for Kids: The Ultimate Guide for Parents in 2021!

Coding for kids (otherwise known as computer programming) is growing rapidly in popularity.

While programming is offered in a small number of traditional schools in the US, a Gallup poll indicates that 90% of parents would like computer programming to be taught during the school day.

Learning how to code at a young age can truly set up your child for a lifetime of success. Even if they don�t go into a specifically computer science related field, it gives them an edge in virtually every modern industry.

Even for students who are lucky enough receive computer science instruction in the classroom, the level of rigor has been traditionally low (typically only Scratch,, or Tynker). To combat this, many parents have chosen to look for outside resources to provide coding instruction. 

The predicament that we find ourselves in is certainly not the schools� fault. Teaching computer programming with real languages and tools generally requires teachers with engineering backgrounds. And schools simply can�t compete with the private sector which is snapping up new engineers as fast as they can.

In short, this is the reason why we started CodaKid. We wanted to provide an affordable way for students who were ready to learn real computer programming with professional languages and tools. We also wanted to provide these students with the mentor support that they need from skilled engineers as they progress into intermediate and advanced projects. CodaKid is now teaching kids the same advanced coding languages and tools that employees at Facebook, Amazon, and Google use. Our most advanced students are now learning machine learning and artificial intelligence!

In this guide, I provide you with the answers to some of the most common questions that we encounter while operating a successful kid�s coding academy. To top it off, I�ll attempt to provide advice on academic approach, curriculum selection, and other resources for your child.

coding for kids table of contents

Below I have provided you with a table of contents of what you can expect in this article. Each section nicely transitions to the next helping ensure your student is prepared for the digital age.

However, if you are looking for something in particular, feel free to click on any of the links below to quickly jump to that section.

  1. What is coding for kids? What age is appropriate to learn to code?
  2. Why should my child learn to code? Why isn�t K � 12th-grade school enough?
  3. What are the best programming languages for kids?
  4. Four important tips to follow before you get your kid started coding!
  5. Top free & paid coding games, apps, websites, classes, curriculum, and more to get you started!
  6. What type of computer should I invest in for my child?

1. What is Coding for Kids? What Age is Appropriate to Learn to Code? 

Coding, or computer programming, is a creative process programmers perform to tell a computer how to perform a task. At its foundation, it involves writing computer programs using programming languages. Coding for kids is usually taught using content that is high-interest while creating projects that involve creative input.

In short, coding for kids is typically gamified making it fun for kids to learn!

Since coding can be gamified, kids as early as age 5 can start learning how to code using visual block interfaces or age appropriate text-based coding classes.

I go into this topic in more depth in my blog article, �Coding For Beginners: A Step-by-Step Guide for Kids, Parents, and Educators�

Kids computer programming courses using games, apps, and other kid-centric projects is a research-based approach that has been proven to teach real world skills in a way that keeps students engaged.

coding for kids ultimate guide for parents

2. Why Should My Child Learn to Code? Why isn�t K-12th Grade School Enough?

In short, learning to code at a young age provides kids and teens with more future opportunities. As you will learn below, the data is compelling. According to the Bureau of Labor median pay for software developers is $103,560 per year, with demand expected to increase by 24% per year from 2016 to 2026. This is much faster than the average of other occupations.

Unfortunately, even if your K-12 school is one of the few actively offering coding classes, they typically do not properly prepare students. Either they fail to incorporate the proper languages that jumpstart your kid�s career or simply don�t have as many tools and resources as are available in supplemental programs.

Most schools use programs like Scratch,, or Tynker.

Scratch is a good, free way for kids to learn coding concepts without using real programming languages. has some decent exercises that introduce Scratch-like visual block languages and even some basic text coding in its later modules. Tynker also features a visual block approach while introducing text-based coding in later modules.

These programs are preferred tools for schools as classes can be proctored by teachers that have limited or no engineering backgrounds. They are fun ways to get your child�s feet wet, but within a short period of time, many kids will be clamoring for more advanced content. Next level content allows students to create their own games, apps, and web pages using real text-based languages. Plus, it doesn�t restrict them to closed platforms.

roblox scripting

When you invest in outside resources, your students can learn real software development using professional tools and languages. (More on both free & paid programs in section 5 to help solve this problem) 

Many of the courses teach using the same languages and tools that are used every day by software companies such as Facebook, Google, and Amazon.

What does computer code look like?

Here are two common concepts that are we having illustrated using pseudo-code: conditionals and loops.


Conditional statements allow a computer program to execute a particular section of code based on whether a condition is true or false. Java uses Boolean values to evaluate these conditions. One of two Boolean values (True or False) is returned when the condition is evaluated by the computer.

Here is a snippet of code that determines when the user�s player jumps:

coding for kids ultimate guide for parents

In the above example, if the player presses the space bar on the computer, the user�s player will jump.


Another common coding concept is called a Loop. In this example, a �While Loop� continually performs a command while a particular condition is true, and discontinues the command when the condition is no longer true.

In this While loop, crops will grow in the game as long as the Daytime condition is true.

coding for kids ultimate guide for parents

The above contains just a couple examples of skills students can learn in a gamified format. In the next section, I will go into discussing some of the best programming languages kids should learn.

Before we move on, though� here are some additional reasons you should consider introducing your kids to coding at an early age:

  1. Computer science builds skills in a number of corollary areas including math, science, problem-solving, teamwork, project-based learning, creative arts, and more. As Steve Jobs famously stated, �Coding teaches you how to think.�
  2. Learning to computer program is just like learning a foreign language. The earlier you start, the easier it is.
  3. In 2020, there will be nearly 1 million unfilled tech jobs in the United States due to a shortage of qualified engineers.
  4. Computer-related occupations make up over 60% of projected new job positions in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math).
  5. Computer programming teaches skills that are instantly relevant in today�s job market.
  6. Computing powers nearly every industry from education to farming, from law to business, and from construction to medicine.
  7. Computer engineering jobs rank among the highest-paying for new graduates.
  8. Coding is the newest liberal art. (Liberal arts were traditionally designed to prepare individuals for civic life and to help students understand the world around them. It is only a matter of time before it is included in core curricula).

Want more? Check out my blog article, �Why Kid�s Should Learn Computer Programing

coding for kids ultimate guide for parents

3. What are the Best Programming Languages for Kids?

With young students, many parents prefer visual block platforms to start. Some, however, prefer to get their kids typing early.

For visual block options, our favorite is unquestionably Scratch 3.0. In fact, we released an entire series of Scratch 3.0 video courses that take kids through the foundations of Scratch coding, while teaching them to make a series of gradually more challenging 2D games.

When your child is ready to make the jump to text-based coding, my advice is to always let your child�s interests dictate your choice of a language. If your child is interested in Roblox, Lua is an elegant scripting language that is perfect for beginners. If your student is interested in Minecraft coding, then you can begin with visual block and then move to Java or JavaScript.

If your child is interested in robotics, you can research the coding languages utilized and try to find courses that use the same language. Some of our favorite DIY robotics kits use scripting languages such Python, Lua, or Scala which are all child-friendly. If your son or daughter is interested in building a website, you will want to consider HTML and CSS. If they are interested in building apps, you might want to consider a language like JavaScript or Swift.

Roblox Studio

At CodaKid, we begin our early learners with Scratch 3.0. When it is time to move to text-based coding with our self-study courses or our private 1-on-1 online lessons, our Core track consists of Python, Lua, or Java.

At CodaKid we focus on Lua for our Roblox coding courses and Java for our Minecraft coding courses. We also use helper files to reduce some of the complexity especially for our younger students. This helps to give them a head start with the fundamentals. We have created highly effective method of teaching Python, Lua, or Java as an introductory coding language. This combined with kids� natural passion for Roblox, Minecraft, or game/app development gives them extra motivation to work through concepts like Booleans, conditional, loops, variables, and methods � all of which are universal and can be found in nearly every other coding language.

Java happens to be the language tested by Computer Science AP exam which is desirable for some of our families. But a solid foundation in any of these languages will provide students with an excellent introduction to computer science and will make it easy for them to learn other languages.

Python and JavaScript  are our languages of choice for 2D game development and app development. While JavaScript is an essential tool for front-end developers, it has become one of the fastest-growing languages in the world due to the popularity of its server-side language (Node.js). Node.js and JavaScript are used to run PayPal, Uber, Netflix, LinkedIn, and Medium. Python is the fastest growing language in the world, and has been used to make YouTube, Instagram, Spotify, Dropbox, Pinterest, and more.

Below is a screenshot of the game that CodaKid�s online students learn to build from the ground up in our App Development � Infinite Runner online course.

coding for kids ultimate guide for parents

As we mentioned above, Python is a scripting language that many consider one of the easiest to learn. It was used to create Instagram, YouTube, and Spotify, and students can even use it to develop a website using Django, a popular web framework.

CodaKid recently introduced Python for Kids which teaches kids how to create a variety of exciting games from the ground up.

For a more in-depth guide on the best coding languages for kids please check out our article, �Top 7 Kids Coding Languages of 2019!

We are also huge fans of Lua, as it is the scripting language that powers Roblox Studio, one of our favorite kids coding and game development platforms. Lua is easy to read and understand, and Lua scripting with Roblox provides students with a fun way to make their own games and even monetize them online through Roblox Marketplace!

4. Four Important Tips to Follow Before You Get Your Kid Started Coding! 

Now before you jump to the next section where I will share the top free coding games, apps, websites, classes, and curriculum, I have a few more tips. It is important that you take these 4 tips into consideration before investing in your child�s future and helping teach to them to code.

Tip #1: Make it Entertaining

Coding for kids needs to be fun!

Not all computer science educators share this point of view. Many still use the �Hello World� method in which students learn to print the words �Hello World� on a screen.

In our experience, younger kids find this method tedious, and it can dissuade them from learning how to code. We�ve found that it is actually quite easy to get kids to try programming, but actually challenging to keep them engaged.

We recommend staying away from curricula that is too academic and mundane. Instead, focus on fun, engaging courses that match your child�s interests. Many of the best resources come in the form of games that they�d enjoy regardless of the content.

Some students will want to create a custom sword for the best-selling game Minecraft. Others might want to create their own webpage. Listen to these interests and help them find the resources and lessons that will cater to them. After all, anyone would be far more interested in a program that teaches them to pursue their existing curiosity and passion.

At CodaKid, we prefer to teach coding by building video games and apps as they provide students with a fun and interactive way to learn coding concepts. Many youth coding clubs and academies are starting to move in this direction.

Interesting in learning how to make coding fun? Then make sure you check out my blog article, �Coding Games for Kids: The Best Way to Teach Computer Programing

Tip #2: Find Local or Online Class

Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO of Facebook, had a computer programming tutor starting in middle school.

While one-on-one tutoring with a quality computer science tutor is an excellent way to learn, it can be very expensive and is not affordable for many families. To combat this, you may also consider searching out group classes as well as online courses that provide live support with real engineers. Recently, CodaKid launched affordable private online coding classes for students who need individualized attention.

The best academies and online courses will have well-crafted lesson plans that build sequentially on concepts like Booleans, Conditionals, Variables, Methods, and more. As coding for kids continues to grow in popularity, you will see an increasing number of options that will hopefully accommodate your child.

coding for kids ultimate guide for parents

Tip #3: Find a mentor

Many developers enjoy volunteering and you might be surprised at how many might be willing to mentor your son or daughter either online or in-person. Whether this is a friend, colleague, teacher, or professional tutor, it can really make the difference.

Interaction with an experienced developer can be invaluable and many times can be performed over Skype or other free video conferencing/screen share solutions. There are a number of companies that specifically offer this service as well, so if you don�t have anyone in your personal circle that comes to mind, research some additional options.

Tip # 4: Understand the difference between visual block platforms & text-based coding.

There are a lot of coding platforms out there that claim to be teaching your kid �real coding languages�. However, most of them will be teaching visual block platforms. This is typically best for beginners or kids between the ages of 5- 7 years old, so it isn�t a �bad� or �lesser� route to take. It is simply important to keep in mind so that you have the right programs for your child�s age group (and so you know exactly what they�re learning).

Visual Block Platforms

We view drag and drop, visual block programming courses as the tricycles of coding.  They are designed to be fun and easy, but are also designed to be tools that you outgrow.

Platforms like, Scratch, Tynker, and others believe that typing should not become an impediment in computer science education. They feel that kids can learn many of the same coding concepts through a more visual, tactile approach. We think that these platforms can be very helpful for younger learners, but that they should serve as a bridge to text-based coding.

Text-based Coding

Programs such as CodaKid, Codeacademy, and Kahn Academy use real programming languages and professional grade coding tools. But the courses are taught in such a way that students as young as age 8 can follow along and have a fun time learning.

The advantage of this approach is that students gain knowledge creating real software. I truly believe this opens up many opportunities for them in their future.

Ok, now that you have taken note of the 4 tips before getting your kid started with coding, let�s dive into some free & paid coding platforms available to get you started!

roblox scripting

5. Top Free & Paid Coding Games, Apps, Websites, Classes, Curriculum, and More to Get You Started!

First off, if I were to try and list out all the different types of games, apps, websites, classes, and curriculum you would get a bit overwhelmed.

So, I am going to do my best to list out the most helpful ones to get you started on the right track starting with coding material for students at the 5 � 7 age mark. When you�re ready for more resources, be sure to check out my article on the best coding games for kids.

Coding For Kids 5 � 7 Years of Age

If your kid is between the ages of 5 � 7 years old you want them to begin learning to code using visual blocks.

Scratch (Free)

coding for kids ultimate guide for parents

MIT Media Labs Scratch has designed fun visual block platform that teaches coding concepts while allowing students to build fun games with a lot of creative freedom.

Google CS designed some well thought out lesson plans that kids can follow, and the coolest part of the platform is that student projects are freely available for review.

This allows kids to study the Scratch visual block code that was used to make exciting 2D games like Asteroids, Donkey Kong and more. Scratch also allows students to add their own art, animation, music, sound effects, and voice-over. Scratch does not provide student support at this time.

In 2020, CodaKid also launched a 15 course Scratch coding series that starts from the basics and gradually get quite advanced. For students that enjoy video instruction, CodaKid�s courses are highly engaging and are being used by students around the globe. (Free)

coding for kids ultimate guide for parents has been featured by Hour of Code and is used by many public schools to teach introductory computer science.

Code Studio has early modules featuring visual block interfaces interfaces and more advanced chapters that teach text-based code in a closed platform. has also partnered with Minecraft, Scratch, Tynker, CodeBattle, and others to create modules that simulate the experience of creating games and apps.

The strength of (aside from the fact that it�s free) is that they have partnered with the  Minecraft and Star Wars brands. Additionally, they have a sequential approach to teaching computer programming. The downside is that kids never quite experience the feeling of building something from the ground up and they are confined to a pseudo environment which seems to encourage drag and drop blocks rather than text.

Tynker (Paid)

CodaKid Tynker Engineering Best Homeschool Curriculum

Tynker is another extremely popular gaming resource to help teach kids coding. It is a paid platform with 32 online courses.

As mentioned earlier, this is one of the most popular platforms with schools since it is primarily based on visual block teaching methods. This makes it a great resources for younger users and beginners, but is likely something that students should eventually graduate from.

That said, the lessons and modules do grow with the students in complexity and difficulty. While there is definitely a ceiling on this, it is good to know that it doesn�t all sit around the exact same beginner level as where it starts.

As far as programs designed for the beginning of a coder�s journey, Tynker definitely serves as an excellent option.

Osmo Coding (Paid)

coding for kids ultimate guide for parents

Osmo Coding combines Legos, gaming, and coding. It is a game brand that teaches children programming concepts by using magnetic blocks that allow the user�s character to navigate puzzles and other challenges in an iPad game.

While the website specifies that the software is designed for students ages 5 to 12, we think that its sweet spot for ages 5 to 7. Osmo introduces a compelling, tactile approach to coding instruction and we think that they have great promise for K-2 computer science.

Wonder Workshop Dash and Dot Robotics Kits (Paid)

Dash and Dot

Wonder Workshops Dash and Dot robotics kits provide a simple kid-friendly introduction to visual block programming with the added benefit of a physical robot. Dash and Dot�s physical movements can be programmed using a simple interface and both robots have fun, cute personalities that are quite entertaining for kids. My 6 year old daughter has gotten hours and hours of replay value from her Dash and Dot kit, and we are big fans!

coding for kids ultimate guide for parents

Coding For Kids 8+ Years of Age (Learn Coding Using Real Languages)

If you remember from my recommendation above. and Scratch are typically the programs that schools use.

However, if you want your student to have a jumpstart to their career and start learning the same coding language at Facebook, Google, Amazon, and more I have listed some free and paid resources to get you started.

Khan Academy (Free)

Khan Academy App Codakid Top 21 Math Apps of 2019

Sal Khan has created a series of videos that are designed to provide free education to the world. Funded by Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation among others, Khan Academy has begun a series on computer science that teaches JavaScript basics, HTML, CSS, and more.

There are video lessons on a number of topics ranging from making animations with JavaScript, making webpages, making 2D games,, and more. At this time, many of the tutorials do not contain videos, but instead provide written instructions better suited to high school and college students. Khan Academy does not provide student support at the time of writing.

Bitsbox (Paid)

Bitsbox Review

If you are looking for a hands-on coding experience for kids, then Bitsbox is a great option to go with. This is a subscription service that provides new, themed coding projects each month. It�s a great way to maintain a schedule with coding lessons while also having exciting surprises factored into the experience.

With Bitsbox, you can either select a digital option to receive a monthly PDF of projects or you can choose on of their physical packages. The difference between the basic box and the deluxe box is only in the additional toys, games, and prizes included with the deluxe package. If you are looking for ways to up the fun and provide more incentives, then the upgrade is a great option! Otherwise, you can rest assured that you are still getting the same fantastic projects and lessons each month.

CodeMonkey (Free)

Codemonkey is a coding game for kids

Another fun and exciting resource intended for kids aged 8 and up is CodeMonkey, a game platform that teaches kids to code as they work through challenging levels. The fun lessons and adventures are geared specifically towards beginners, so it�s a great place to start a coding journey.

There are a number of different games that kids can play through CodeMonkey, so you have options. This will help your child get the most of the platform not only by having a variety of educational channels to use but also by having different games to keep them excited and interested.

Some of these games include Dodo Does Math, Challenge Builder, Game Builder, and Coding Adventure. Browsing through the options and understanding the platform as a whole is a great place to start with a child�s computer science education.

CodaKid � All Access- $25 per month (watch the video to learn more)

Full disclosure � I am the co-founder and CEO of CodaKid. But I firmly believe that CodaKid belongs on this list because of the educational awards we have won and the large following we have amssed in now over 100 countries around the world.

Winner of Parent�s Choice Gold Award and CODiE finalist for Best Coding and Computational Thinking Solution, CodaKid has at the time of writing over 50 courses and instruction in over 7 different coding languages.

What makes CodaKid unique is your kids learn the coding languages necessary to build websites, create real games, apps, and more. We also include unlimited access to a team of friendly mentors that will help you through chat or screen share if your child ever gets stuck and needs help.

At only $25 per month for over 500 hours of student projects, it is an excellent value.

Click here to start your free 14-day trial!


Codeacademy is a coding resource for kids

Codecademy provides coding courses including lesson plans to help teachers plan computer science classes. We find their courses and content more suitable for teenagers who are interested in vocational training in web development and data science, as their game programming options are fairly limited.

Exercises are done in browser and have automatic accuracy checking. Codecademy�s strength is in teaching older students who are interested in text-based languages. The closed platform approach prevents students from the actual experience of creating their own software, but it provides a well thought out curriculum map.

6. What type of computer should I invest in for my child?

This decision depends on what your child�s interests, your budget, and what approach you would like to take.

Many online coding courses such as and Khan Academy are web-based and only require a high-speed internet connection.

Web-based courses do not require computers with much processing power and will typically run with nearly any computer manufactured in the last 4-5 years, including options like Google Chromebooks.

Providers of courses with real coding tools require a Mac or PC computer with a recommended 4G of RAM and a high-speed internet connection. The benefit is that your child will learn how to code using the same professional grade tools and real coding languages used by major software companies around the world.

At some point in your child�s computer science journey, you will likely reach a time when he or she has a strong desire to use real programming environments and professional tools.

Some families decide to do this from the start, while others use web-based tools to begin and then transition to professional-grade tools at a later time. We have found that kids build a lot of self-confidence when using these tools. In fact, when taught with clear directions, students as young as age 7 are able to use them.

We are fairly agnostic concerning PC computers and suggest that you follow the hardware requirements of the course. We also suggest that you read computer reviews on trusted sources like CNET or PCMagazine.

In Conclusion�

Coding for kids is growing in popularity, as many families view computing as a new literacy that will be as important as math and science in tomorrow�s job market.  There are many approaches to selecting suitable courses for K-12 students, and there are certainly no �one-size-fits-all� solutions.

The most important piece of advice we can offer is to make coding fun.

Coding for kids doesn�t need to be boring. Yes, it demands patience and persistence, but if kids know that the payout is a project, game, or app that they are interested in, they will put in the work.

If it is taught the wrong way, coding for kids can seem like a boring typing class or even worse a 50 step math word problem.

If you choose well, however, you will give your kids a new skill that is both fun and academic, and you may be surprised to see the positive effects that it has on their academics and self-confidence.

Want to revisit a section of the article? Click a link below to quickly jump to that section!

  1. What is coding for kids? What age is appropriate to learn to code?
  2. Why should my child learn to code? Why isn�t K � 12th-grade school enough?
  3. What are the best programming languages for kids?
  4. Four important tips to follow before you get your kid started coding!
  5. Top free & paid coding games, apps, websites, classes, curriculum, and more to get you started!
  6. What type of computer should I invest in for my child?

Have any other tips or advice for parents looking to teach their kids how to code?

Please leave comments or questions in the comments section below!

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