Coding for Middle Schoolers: Top Languages, Platforms, and Projects

Coding for Middle Schoolers: Top Languages, Platforms, and Projects

Coding inspires critical thinking and is an excellent option for kids in middle school who are hungry to learn about computer science. The logical part of kids’ brains really takes off between ages 11 and 14, and most middle schoolers can grasp more complex topics and more advanced programming languages such as Python and JavaScript.

TheCoderSchool is the perfect place for middle school students to further their knowledge of coding. Our Code Coaches can work one-on-one or in low-ratio in-person or virtual coding classes with middle schoolers who want to learn more advanced languages. 

Choosing the right language and learning platform is important for the best coding experience. We’ll guide you through the most popular options for kids at this stage of learning.

Best Programming Languages for Middle Schoolers

Many of our coding students will start with the basics before moving on to more complex languages. TheCoderSchool has experience teaching children a variety of languages, but the ones we find that are most useful for our students are Scratch, Python, JavaScript, and Lua.

Scratch

Scratch is one of the most common beginner languages for new coders. Easy to learn and highly visual, it teaches coding basics in a way kids can understand. Kids drag-and-drop colorful boxes to problem solve and gain an understanding of new concepts. 

Python

After learning the basics, Python is a great language for intermediate coders. Far more than just a teaching language, Python is used by professional programmers in a variety of settings in the real world. Popular applications such as Netflix and Spotify are built with Python, which is a testament to its versatility and professionalism.

Despite it being a language used by the pros, Python is actually a very easy language to learn. It’s intuitive and flexible, and middle schoolers typically learn Python quickly and with ease, often with the help of programs such as CodeCombat.

JavaScript

Like Python, JavaScript is a popular language used by professional coders. JavaScript is a powerful language and is used on various applications, including Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox. Beyond building web pages, it’s also used to create mobile apps, games, and even run robots.

After learning coding basics, JavaScript is a great language to dive into when kids are ready for text-based computer programming and web development concepts.

Lua

Another language great for introducing text-based coding is Lua. Coders use it to build IOS and Android games and apps. Ever heard of Angry Birds? Developers used Lua to make the mega-popular game.

We find that it’s easy to learn and use, making it perfect for beginner to intermediate coders. There are some similarities between Python and Lua: Kids learning Lua don’t have to wade through difficult syntax, and the overall aesthetic is more straightforward.

Best Programming Platforms for Middle Schoolers

One of the best things about learning to code is the fun and engaging programming tutorials out there. Picking up new concepts such as algorithms and conditionals can be tricky, but these platforms make it interesting. We have a few favorites listed below (all free) that we recommend for our students. 

Trinket

Trinket is the perfect programming platform for kids who are ready to dive into the world of Python. We like it because kids can code directly into a web browser and save their work for their next session. Students can also remix code from other people’s projects and play around with editing. The Turtle feature is also helpful because it allows kids to start using Python to draw elements directly on the screen. 

CodePen

We love this programming platform because it allows students to learn JavaScript in real time. By using a split-screen feature, CodePen shows users how their code comes to life. The whole program runs in a web browser, making it easy to login on any computer and pick up right where they left off. Kids who learn using CodePen also combine elements of HTML and CSS, making it great for the ambitious middle schooler.

Roblox Studio

Kids who want to learn Lua love the program Roblox. This coding and game development platform is designed for kids who are interested in video game development. Roblox allows kids to create their own games using languages such as Lua and C++. It’s a great way to absorb new programming skills while learning new coding languages and developing fun games simultaneously.

Best Programming Projects for Middle Schoolers

One of the best ways to learn new programming concepts is through hands-on projects. It allows students to practice their coding skills and they can come away with tangible evidence of their skills, whether it’s a video game to play with friends or an app to show their parents.

Video game development

Our educators can help guide your child through the video game creation process from start to finish. Many of our students can’t wait to build their first game. They’ll learn how to code in one of the free programming platforms, such as Roblox, and will slowly see their game come to life.

Mobile app creation

Another great project for middle school coders is building a mobile app. Code Coaches can help students become app inventors by learning what it takes to conceptualize and build a useful application to run on Android or iOS. Students can also use HTML and CSS to play with layout options and make things like countdown timers or interactive to-do lists.

Building a basic website

Building websites is one of the most valuable skills kids can learn in coding classes. We can help your child build a simple website using basic design principles such as web hosting, file linking, and coding logic. Our Code Coaches will help students build websites using HTML5 and other languages they’ll learn along their coding journey.

Kids Aged 11-14 Can Dive into Programming with theCoderSchool

TheCoderSchool can help your child kick start or continue their coding education through programming courses where kids can learn at their own pace or camps where they can learn in group settings. 

Far from a bland computer science course, our programs are designed to be interactive and engaging from start to finish. Be sure to check our website for coding camps and classes near you and help your child become a computer science whiz-kid today!