Scratch Coding: What is it & Why Does it Work For Kids 8+

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Scratch Coding: What Is it & Why Does it Work For Kids 8+

Want to introduce your child to the world of coding? Scratch is a programming language built for kids and beginner coders to teach them the basics of coding. 

Kids who learn Scratch can create their own interactive stories and games while better understanding coding fundamentals. Why is Scratch such a great language for kids eight and up? Let’s explore how Scratch was developed and how it teaches coding in a meaningful and creative way.

The History of Scratch Coding

Parents researching coding languages often don’t know where to start. And that’s okay! Until about a decade ago, even professional educators weren’t certain which programming languages and teaching methods worked best for kids.

In the past, intro coding classes focused on rote memorization of basic techniques, and enhancing familiarity with programming terms. Over time, technology companies in both the U.S. and the U.K. reported a distinct lack of preparedness and understanding from students learning coding. So, in 2013, the U.K. reworked its computing curriculum, including all coding aspects to make coding classes more purposeful.

The goal of coding classes for kids was boiled down to a simple concept: Fluency. Fluency is the difference between memorizing words in a dictionary, and adding words to your effective vocabulary. Shifting goals provided structure to help make students successful, and that success bred confidence, which encouraged kids to learn and accomplish more. All great computer coding schools now encourage students to learn code using methodologies that work best for them.

2013 was also when one of the most vital tools in modern coding education was released by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology: Scratch 2.0.

What is Scratch?

Scratch is a programming language developed by MIT that brings meaningful context to coding. The Scratch team had three goals in mind: to inspire people to ‘think creatively, reason systematically, and work collaboratively.’ 

Scratch is designed for children aged eight to sixteen, though new coders of all ages consider Scratch to be a great intro to the world of computer science. 

Three versions of Scratch have been published over the years, each one improving on the last in both methodology and technology. The Scratch Cat, which is the default sprite for new Scratch projects, has also been upgraded over time to reflect advances.

The latest version, Scratch 3.0, came out in January 2019. It was an opportunity to fix lingering bugs, and upgrade Scratch 2.0 technology to HTML5 and JavaScript. Scratch 4.0 enhancements are still on the horizon, expecting to be released in the year 2025.

Community is important for Scratch, so MIT Media Lab hosts the Scratch website as a dedicated place for users to share ideas, coding projects, Scratch games, and talk about their learning experience. The website has tutorials, a detailed wiki, code guides, tips for educators and parents, and a full project management suite. Community guidelines help keep it a friendly place to learn about Scratch programming. Students can code privately or publicly, depending on whether they want to collaborate with others. Once they’re done, they can add their own games and projects to the Scratch code library for other students around the world to experience.

The Scratch website at MIT is invaluable for kids who enjoy coding, but learning with the support of teachers is important, too. Teachers can help challenge kids as they learn and help them if they get stuck. Having a supportive instructor is paramount for a kid who’s just learning about coding. The support makes it more likely that they’ll approach coding in a way that builds skills over time.

Scratch Programming Helps Spark Imagination 

Learning Scratch or ScratchJr is easy for kids by design. Code blocks snap together like building blocks to simulate coding concepts. Within seconds, even a new coder can program the Scratch Cat to walk across the screen, meowing, or doing other actions. The interactive drag-and-drop blocks make Scratch a great way for elementary school students to learn coding. Once they understand what they’re doing, students can stretch their limits with help from instructors, doing everything from making interactive stories to building their own video games!

Kids ages eight and up are best able to learn functions and themes that are gradually introduced. As challenges intensify, individuals or groups of students can tackle new activities, code games, and demonstrate the solutions in Scratch code. 

Whether they know it or not, students are using Scratch to learn the fundamentals of computer programming languages. Scratch uses variables and both simple and complex coding skills to familiarize students with algorithms, challenging syntax, problem-solving, and computational thinking. Students learn how to create loops, if/then statements, and counters. Once you have those skills, you can move on to robotics and other coding languages like Python. 

If they put in the time and effort, young programmers can create interactive stories, animations, fun games, commands, and other audio/video elements. The result? Kids will learn to love Scratch coding.

What Is the Best Way for Kids to Learn Scratch?

There’s no right or wrong way for kids to learn Scratch. Simply put, different kids learn different ways!

Some kids love interactive classrooms, either virtual or in person. Children who thrive in a collective learning environment should look into theCoderSchool’s camps. Coding camps and classes for kids are available in dozens of locations all over the continental United States. The ideal Code Coach-to-student ratio in those scenarios is around six-to-one.

Some students learn better from video presentations. For them, step-by-step theCoderSchool AppStream will expose new students to the basics. As students grow in confidence and experience, they may wish to attend interactive classes.

Finally, some students just like to read, and who can blame them? For those lovable little bookworms, the “Coding with Scratch” ebook by Basher Books is their best option. In no time, they’ll be using Scratch for programming all kinds of fun projects.

Sign Up Your Child for a Scratch Class Near You

Scratch is an ideal first coding class for all ages, and an obvious choice if you want your child’s computer coding experience to be more than just a test of patience and memory. With thousands of community projects to draw inspiration from, every Scratch program they come across is a potential learning experience.

TheCoderSchool provides Scratch coding camps and classes. With locations across the United States and flexible courses including virtual learning, in-person classes, or private one-on-one lessons, our teachers provide a child-focused learning philosophy to help the next-gen to take their curiosities with technology to the next level. 

Find a class near you and get in touch with the educators at theCoderSchool today if you have any questions.

By Hansel

Hansel is the Founder & CEO of theCoderSchool and has been at the heart of it ever since its inception in 2013.