The Complete Guide to Coding for Teens
There are many real-world learning opportunities for students, but learning computer programming skills can really set a motivated teenager apart from the rest. With a thriving tech industry expected to grow, teens represent the next group of students preparing to enter the workforce.
Many teens already have computer science skills, and it’s no surprise. When you think about it, they’ve been immersed in technology both at school and at home since birth.
As a parent, you probably already see that your teens are interested in technology. In addition, STEM programs and games have likely helped them foster the skills they need to succeed in coding and development.
Take the opportunity to learn more about enriching coding camps and courses, and see how it may be beneficial for your teen to become a coder. They might be ready to take their skills to the next level with the right encouragement.
What Are the Benefits of Learning to Code?
There are many reasons teens can benefit from having a good understanding of technology, and there are even more opportunities for those who learn how to code.
Familiarity with programming languages and web applications can give middle school and high school students a head start on future coursework if they choose to pursue a boot camp instead of a four-year degree. But it doesn’t stop there: Coding requires students to develop soft skills and problem-solving abilities, both of which are necessary in many jobs.
The biggest benefits for teenagers include:
- Opportunity to develop strong problem-solving skills
- Chance to practice teamwork and foster social skills
- Opportunity to build upon spatial intelligence
- Unique opportunities for growing creative and logical thinking skills
- Carefree play
- Development of transferable skills that can be used in future workplaces
Signs Your Teen Could Be Great at Coding
You might not have the slightest clue if your teenager has a natural aptitude for computer science and coding but look a little closer. The indicators are probably loud and clear.
Many parents are focused on managing screen time, and for a good reason. However, kids begin to learn the inner workings of computers, video games, smartphones, and STEM toys during screen time. All of those experiences can be enriching for a young learner.
Advancements in the curriculum have also instilled confidence and competence in technology, so students are naturally predisposed to how things work.
Online tutorials are more readily at teens’ fingertips than ever before when it comes to learning. So whether they’re watching YouTube coding videos or playing with Minecraft mods, they’re likely already engaged.
If your teen had coding experiences in preschool and elementary school, they may be more likely to gravitate to it now.
Reasons your child might excel with coding concepts:
- They have an inherent interest in technology, whether through computers, tablets, or gaming systems
- They enjoy challenging educational games, like puzzles or problem-solving activities
- They have played with STEM toys and applications in the past, such as drag-and-drop block coding toys, the preschool enriching Code-a-pillar, school-aged robot Miko, or Kano Computer Kits
- They participate in games that engage programming skills, such as Tynker or Robot Wars
- They enjoy free play with building toys such as LEGO
- They appreciate structure and have the ability to follow instructions
- They gravitate to creative outlets such as art classes and cooking classes
Benefits of Coding for Teens
Job opportunities in the tech and cybersecurity industries are rising for smart, proficient programmers. Though a full-time career may still be years off, teenagers with the right skillset will have many opportunities to flourish.
Encouraging your teen to learn more about programming is a no-brainer. Not only could it help them cultivate new interests that steer them into an enriching and gratifying career path, but it helps them develop skills that can help them right now. They may also show an interest in learning broadly about algorithms, robotics, or mobile app development for Android or iOS.
Ultimately, teens who explore coding opportunities will:
- Learn new computer skills
- Sharpen problem-solving skills
- Explore creative challenges
- Enhance social skills
- Optimize their free time (and use it to learn new coding languages)
Learning how to code takes time and determination, and once you have a full-time job, it’s harder to find the time to learn these skills. So teenagers who might otherwise spend time staring at social media or video games can rethink how they use their after-school hours—and make the most of it.
Many students also enjoy the social aspect of coding, because many projects in coding courses involve collaboration with peers and like-minded learners. Interacting with others like yourself can offer a sense of relatedness.
How to Introduce Your Teen to Coding
Most parents would agree that it’s not always easy to introduce new interests to teenagers; sometimes, you have to get sneaky.
Parents of teens who already show an interest in coding concepts may have an easier time than others, but if not, you may have to get creative. Fortunately, there are many exciting in-roads to the world of computer programming that may pique their interest.
If your teen enjoys video games, you might propose that they try to learn more about video game development. If they’re artistic, they might even like working with animation elements and learn how to design their own worlds.
You might recommend mobile app development for kids who have access to smartphones and tablets and are accustomed to how apps work.
Teens may have been introduced to different coding opportunities through school. As a result, they might be willing to vote for a path that interests them, be it web development or software engineering. Or, they might have heard that it’s good to learn Scratch or take a Python camp, and choose to start there.
When all else fails, sign them up for an intro class with their BFF. Coding students of all ages can improve their soft skills in communication to collaborate. Building upon those skills with someone you already know can take the edge off if your teen is shy.
What Are the Best Coding Classes and Camps for Teenagers?
Coding classes and camps are designed for children of all ages, but it’s easier to narrow down the options to find programs that meet their needs as students get older.
When you’re choosing a program, consider:
- The age of the student
- Their interests (teens are often interested in video games, websites, or robots)
- Social skills (some teens thrive in a classroom, others benefit from one-on-one lessons)
- Availability (some students favor enrollment in a camp over school break, or enroll in immersive classes that work around their schedule; others find that online classes offer the best flexibility)
- Learning style (some students learn best with a program that grows with them and their interests; others value structured curriculum)
Best Coding Languages for Teens to Learn
If you’re dipping your toe into the world of coding, you might find that it’s hard to know where to start. Different programs introduce different program languages, and for any beginner, it’s always best to start with the basics. The best coding languages for teens include:
Another modular and visual way of coding, CSS (or Cascading Style Sheets) can be learned from a young age. Commonly used for web design, creative teens will enjoy how coding controls the colors, fonts, backgrounds, and animations that display when they visit any ordinary website.
Among the most simple syntaxes to learn, Python continues to grow in use-scenarios and has become increasingly important in the world of coding languages. It’s a programming language that helps teens develop problem-solving and creativity skills and improves written skills. It’s also growing as a prerequisite for data science career tracks.
C++ is widely used for many applications and is a low-level language to learn when you’re just getting the hang of programming. Teens should know that it can develop anything from games to operating systems, browsers, apps, and more.
Once your teen masters Java and C++, it’s natural to expect that they can progress into a multi-paradigm programming language such as C# that helps them become more productive, efficient developers.
Best Tools and Platforms to Help Your Teen Learn to Code
Help your teen learn to code with accessible, easy-to-use coding platforms and apps such as those listed below. The more they practice the skills they learn in classes and camps, the more likely they are to grasp the fundamentals of coding and learn how to apply their knowledge of programming in creative ways.
Compared to a pocket-sized computer, this wearable tech reinforces basic coding and programming skills. Teens can program it to be a digital watch, fitness tracker, games console, and more.
If your high schooler is just starting out, Coding Ground is a great option to help them learn the basic programming languages including Java, C++, and Python (and any language, really). It’s a compelling option for parents looking to develop coding skills with minimal investment. Available online through a browser, it’s easy to access and a great program for beginners.
PLAYCANVAS is a popular cloud-hosted platform that challenges teens to build and review games. The engine is capable of rigid-body physics simulation, handling three-dimensional audio and 3D animations. It’s super engaging and fun, and coolest of all, it allows kids to interact with 3D.
For teens interested in robotics, this program is perfect. Students of all ages can learn more about robotics through this STEM experience. Its snap-together assembly helps students learn about programming, sensors, and automation while honing critical computational thinking skills.
Find Teen Coding Classes and Camps Near You
Coding classes for kids offered by theCoderSchool strive to inspire teens and students of all ages to get a foundational knowledge of coding. We offer coding courses in a virtual learning environment, in-person, and private one-on-one lessons with a child-focused learning philosophy.
Classes are available across the U.S. When you’re ready to enroll your teen, get in touch to find a class near you. If you have any questions about programs to target specific interests, we’d be happy to help point you in the right direction.