Why should we Code in the Community?
Programming can be a creative activity that any kid can engage in by creating games, storyboards or just playing around with code. Therefore, Code in the Community was started in 2017 as a Google-supported initiative to bring free coding classes to 3,000 young Singaporeans from less well-to-do backgrounds. Since 2020, I have been given the opportunity to teach children from all walks of life to get excited about the potential of technology and unlock their natural learning abilities.
We used MIT’s Scratch which is a free programming tool designed for kids that runs in any modern Web browser. Anyone can run it at https://scratch.mit.edu. Scratch’s drag-and-drop code blocks snap together which means that pieces of code that don’t make computational sense won’t fit together and making syntax errors literally impossible. From my personal experience, scratch has been great for younger kids who haven’t developed typing skills.
Despite its intellectual reputation, programming is a hands-on skill that requires practice, more than just reading books. I have learned that practicing coding goes a long way compared to just talking concepts at them. Even after learning about variables, loops, and functions, sitting in front and starting a new program is intimidating. Therefore, we encourage them to follow and code along while describing the code blocks they should use.
While sharing knowledge is exciting, showing someone what you know about programming is even better. But coding is a skill that is learned with hands-on practice, so let the kids drive and avoid immediately jumping in to tell them the answer!