We get asked this a lot. How can I find the best coding camp for my child?
First, you need to consider what language the camp is based on. Scratch and other simple languages are great for younger kids or children who like the bright colors and ease of use, but more “advanced” languages, such as Python, Go, or Java, leave more doors open for innovation and expression and are used in business environments where fluency and understanding can really make a difference.
The second is how big the class is. Is the class packed like sardines in a tin? If so, the kids might not be able to get all their questions answered, unless there are plenty of teachers to keep up. Worse yet, an overcrowded class could mean a physically cramped and uncomfortable workspace, especially if the activities include a moving bot. On the other hand, however, an empty class might mean the student misses out on the “summer camp buzz.” Also, there are fewer children to form a group with, which can be a problem because working in groups is conducive to learning and sharing and is what provides the social aspect that is a large part of the purpose of this kind of camp in the first place. Thirdly, one has to take a look at the teachers. Do they have any real-world experience with coding, especially in the language they’re teaching? Have at least some of them run similar camps before, or perhaps even have actual educational experience? For any kind of camp for children, safety should always be considered, as well. While it’s not nice to think about, are the teachers and staff suitable to take care of children on their own? Will there be someone who is CPR-certified or has first-aid credentials? Is the location relatively secure and will a security officer of some kind be present? Another consideration is whether the camp is age-appropriate. What’s fun and engaging for a seven-year-old might be dull and repetitive for a twelve-year-old and completely disorienting and frustrating for a three-year-old. Visual editors, like Scratch, can be perfect for younger kids because there’s no worrying over typos or a missed colon, not to mention the bright colors and ability to hit “Run” at any time. On the other hand, kids with a solid grasp on spelling and formatting might find text-based IDEs to be more challenging and more engaging, especially since they have more options for creativity and more areas to explore, and also provide the knowledge that what they’re learning is closer to how a “pro” does it. Different levels of complexity and focus can be tuned to the child’s age and stage of brain development, which ultimately means a happier child with more coding know-how.
On a closely-related, but different, note, parents need to assess whether the camp is appropriate for their child’s knowledge level. If a class claims to be good for everyone from beginners to knowledgeable experts, chances are that those at the ends of the spectrum will find it boring and frustrating. Parents should try to find a class that is clearly meant for certain levels of knowledge, and, of course, make sure their child fits those levels.“