Why Kids Are Like Trees When It Comes to Coding

Next time you're out and about, check out all the trees you see.  You might find tall trees, wide trees, red trees, green trees. Big trunks, deep roots, or super leafy branchy trees (anyone else just flash Dr. Seuss?).  Trees all grow differently, but there's one thing in common - they all follow the laws of physics!  The bigger the tree branches, the bigger the trunk and the bigger the roots - otherwise it'd fall over in the slightest breeze!

At the Coder School, we think each kid learns to code in their own unique way, just like each tree grows with a different shape and size (and sometimes color!).  So our curriculums are flexible, and are customized around individual students, coaching kids with the style and content that we feel works best for each situation.  Think about how static coding curriculums work - they assume a one-size-fits-all way of learning.  A three month coding class takes a group of kids through the same topics in those three months.  Inevitably with a class curriculum, some kids are too fast, some kids are too slow, some want to work on this app, others want to work on that app!  That's why there's an educational trend today to customize how kids learn - both in content and speed.  And that's why we at the Coder School teach in a customized way, in a super-small coach-to-student ratio (typically 2 to 1).  In our Code Coaching program, kids might learn Scratch or Python, games or websites, focus on data or graphics, robotics or mini-computers.  In our mind, there's no wrong way to learn to code!

Our Coder Tree™ was born out of a need for a cool visual representation of how kids are unique in the way they learn, and evolved into a great reminder that there's no shortcuts!  With a tree, you can't grow a branch without a trunk, and a trunk doesn't exist without a root.  Similarly in coding, you can't learn advanced concepts without a solid, knowledgable, and wide base.

Imagine that the branches and leaves are advanced technologies like 3-D gaming or SQL databases.  The trunk then is core typed coding like Python or Javascript mini-applications.  The roots then represent the basic foundation of coding - critical thinking, variables and data, loops, and other logical concepts.  The more students want to grow their knowledge of advanced technologies, the larger the trunk and the larger the root system must be!  For example, it's not uncommon that a somewhat inexperienced student wants to jump right up to 3D-Gaming right away.  In our customized curriculum model, we may even allow that (briefly!).  But what happens to a tree when you try to grow too many branches before you have strong roots?  In the same way, kids aren't able to grasp the advanced technologies very well because they don't yet have the foundational thinking.  They might learn basic modes, or memorize where to click or what to type, but can they really understand the underlying logic, are they really able to learn advanced1 technology without a foundational computational understanding?  The answer is no.

Keep in mind too that tree roots aren't checkboxes!  Just because a student can code an app or two in Scratch doesn't mean they're "done" with Scratch!  Growing foundational roots takes repetition and practice, and learning to code is no different.  Just like memorizing all the chords doesn't make you a master guitarist, understanding a code concept doesn't mean you're ready for the next level.  Like my guitar teacher used to always say, practice, practice, practice!

We use our Coder Tree™  to emphasize that coding isn't a race, that it's _not_ about learning the most advanced technologies as quickly as possible.  It's about building the base, and understanding the core of coding and logical thinking.  And don't forget, core coding concepts and logical thinking will never change - but advanced technologies will come and go by the time your kid is an adult!  So focus on the roots, and focus on the trunk.  You'll find that when your kids grow older, their super-strong foundation will allow them to learn and grow in ways that we can't yet imagine.

Wanna understand more about our Coder Tree™ or take a shot a coding like a tree?  Drop by one of our locations today and check in with a Code Coach®.  Let's grow!