Kids enjoy having plenty of screen time, and as a result, spend a lot of time on the internet. Instead of investing considerable effort curtailing this, it is much better to leverage this affinity to teach them life-changing skills like coding.
In a continually evolving job market, coding skills provide much-needed stability. In whatever form it takes, technology is here for good, and the world will always need people to build them.
Thankfully, you don’t have to be a coder or computer scientist to teach your kids programming. There are plenty of websites and apps that provide the structure and training to make a lifelong hobby or fruitful career out of coding.
This article explores 15 of the best online coding classes for kids, that are free or cheap for families and teachers.
If you are familiar with the world of programming, you have probably heard about Codecademy. If you aren’t, that is okay. It is a website that offers a robust set of courses on a stack of programming languages and web development.
Unlike several coding platforms for kids who use graphics and games to teach programming, Codecademy is text-based. As a result, it is ideal for kids age 13+ or younger children who can read and type.
If you or your child is unsure of what to learn, both of you can figure it out through a quiz that evaluates why they want to learn to code.
Kids do not need any coding background to take a course. It is perfect for beginners, and all classes are free.
However, suppose you want a personalized learning plan and access to live advisors. In that case, there is a paid PRO track with different pricing plans available on the program’s website.
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Unity is a software development platform that allows users to create 2D, 3D, and VR games. It also supports app creation and is an excellent all-around tool for creating visual content.
Its learning programs allow students of all ages to gain real-life experience working with interactive visual design. Kids also have an opportunity to build background knowledge in object-oriented programming with languages like C#.
If you have kids with an active mind, who enjoy constructing their own world, learning via Unity is a great way to equip them with the skill to bring their imaginations to life. It will open the door to possible future careers in engineering, architecture, film & television, automotive, and gaming industries.
At the end of the program, students will have the skill to create animations, cinematics, 2D, and 3D scenes using the proprietary Unity Editor.
The pricing? All free. During the learning program, they will work on group projects, share work with teachers, from anywhere, on their home and school computers.
To be eligible for this program, kids must be enrolled in an accredited educational institution.
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Blockly is one of the best online coding classes for kids 8+ and above. It teaches children programming principles using a block-based programming method. For your child, it’s like solving a puzzle; only it involves connecting pieces of code.
Every puzzle piece is a block of code and kids learn by dragging and dropping puzzle pieces to create a code sequence.
The freely accessible website is simple and straightforward. There is no sign-up necessary. The puzzle pieces appear on the screen when you visit the website, and the goal is to complete the puzzle. Upon completion, kids can check their answers and verify it is correct before moving to the next puzzle.
Some of the games might be difficult, especially those that require defining the direction of movement of an object by the number of degrees. Regardless, it is a valuable tool for kids who learn visually and are capable of reading.
Also, even though it uses a gamification approach, it is a great foundational tool for future text-based coding. Furthermore, Blockly is available in multiple languages. This makes it an efficient learning tool for your child’s natural, programming language development.
Developed by MIT Media Lab, Scratch is a coding learning platform used by elementary schools and parents to teach their children programming. It has its own programming language and uses the block coding approach, which consists of snapping graphical blocks together to teach kids.
Asides from its modality, one quality that makes Scratch one of the best online coding classes for kids is its large online community. Children can learn to program and share their creations, such as animation and games, with other kids worldwide.
The platform helps children build problem-solving, reasoning, and communication skills in a fun and exciting way. Scratch is also completely free and funded via voluntary donations by individuals and organizations like the National Science Foundation and the LEGO Foundation.
However, it is worth noting that the platform does not teach a real-life coding language—only the concept and principle of one.
Thus, it is useful for kids between ages 8 and 16. For parents who want a more immediate head start, younger children between ages 5 to 7 can try ScratchJr, a simplified version of the platform.
Code.org is another non-profit organization that teaches kids coding. It is a globally recognized organization in over 180 countries, with courses taught in over 67 languages. Also, it provides a computer science curriculum to the largest school districts in the US and notably organizes the annual Hour of Code.
For kids who want to learn individually, their website offers a series of four courses that teach computer science fundamentals. Students then practicalize their acquired knowledge by creating interactive games and stories at the end of the course.
The courses are taught via learning tools like videos, puzzles, and activities. Each class is classified by grade (K-5, 6-12, and K-12+), so there is something to learn at any reading level. Those who read at a high level can choose to learn via a block-based or text-based approach.
Furthermore, coding classes at Code.org are entirely free, available to everyone at zero cost, including young women and kids from marginalized ethnic and racial groups.
Lastly, the platform offers in-person classes through programs like summer camp, after-school programs, and school. Parents and kids can find local classes through its website.
Although now hosted by MIT, AppInventor was an original creation of Google for young learners and beginners to create Android apps easily. Like most coding programs for kids, it uses a visual block-based language to teach and help users create different apps.
It is a robust learning platform that teaches students how to build mobile apps with videos, puzzles, and quizzes. As students progress through the class, they learn an extensive list of app-building techniques and how to code apps with Java.
Students build simple apps by setting up AppInventor and progressively learn how to create more complex Android apps during this journey. Kids gain the ability to make all sorts of apps including games, social apps, and quizzes, all of which are shareable via AppInventor with friends and family.
Parents who wish to participate in their kids’ learning journey can also dive into a Course-in-a-Box material that includes lesson plans, including video and text-based lessons.
Finally, AppInventor is free for both students and parents who wish to teach. All you have to do is head over to the platform’s website to get started.
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7. Code Monster
Signing up your kids for a coding class is only as valuable as the amount of practice they get with what they learn. While learning can be structured and tedious, practicing independently without inner motivation can be a real challenge.
It is free, and there is no complicated graphical interface to wade through. Once you open the website, coding begins. All it asks of the user is to follow the monster’s instructions. There is little technical assistance other than an About, How to Play, and FAQ page.
There is no defined age limit for users, but it is most suited for kids age 13 and older. But as always, that is a recommendation, not a hard rule.
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Unlike several options on this list, LightBot is an app-based coding class. It is available on the iOS App Store and Google Play, as well as Amazon. It is also not free, with monthly and annual subscriptions. However, if you are willing to check it out, there is a free trial.
That said, LightBot is a puzzle that kids can solve using programming concepts. Kids can learn various programming principles like recursive loops, sequencing, overloading, procedures, and conditionals by playing the game.
Gameplay involves guiding a robot with commands to light up tiles and overcome level challenges. It features 50 levels and 20 Challenge Stars for players to collect. It is an excellent way to introduce kids to programming without the emotional frustration of forced learning.
LightBot is ideal for children ages 8+, but it is also helpful for first-time coders of all ages, as it was designed for beginners. Players and kids who complete the game and want to continue their learning via its method can download other apps like SpriteBox Coding and LightBot: Code Hour.
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Does your kid have a competitive spirit? Do they enjoy teaming with others to achieve a goal? Or are you simply looking for an engaging and exciting way to teach your child coding? CodeCombat is one of the best online coding classes if this sounds like you or your child.
Additionally, there are leaderboards where students can match their performance against other players around the globe in the CodeCombat AI League. They earn points for completing levels and compete in head-to-head matches.
The game is free for core levels, and additional levels require subscribing to a tiered monthly subscription plan. The subscription also comes with live coding classes, course completion certificates, end-of-course projects, and more.
Students improve their coding skills by training for battle with other coders. To join, a player must first prove their skills by completing a challenge. Based on their performance, they are ranked and given additional challenges according to their skill level.
An approach inspired by kata, the Japanese martial arts practice, a player progressively faces more complex challenges. In return for solving them, they gain Honor points and deepen their coding skills.
Each completed level also opens the door to the solutions of other coders who faced the same challenge. A player can then study their methods and approaches for additional insight into how a piece of code works.
CodeWars is entirely free and online. And while the platform does not specify, it is ideal for kids ages 14 and up because getting started requires prior coding knowledge, no matter how little.
Nevertheless, younger kids with programming knowledge are free to compete to practice a newly learned language.
Do you envision a life in computer science for your kids or give them a quality educational foundation that ups their critical thinking and creativity skills? Kodable is an educational platform that teaches children between ages 4 to 11 computer science fundamentals.
As their learning progresses, they will transition to object-oriented programming, giving them a robust coding background, all before the age of 11.
Kodable lessons are structured like a classroom curriculum. Each unit involves a teacher’s script, independent practice, unplugged activity, and quiz assessment. They are designed to help transition students from block programming to real code.
The basic curriculum is free, and the advanced curriculum costs $150 for lifetime access. Alternatively, you can opt for a monthly and yearly subscription. You can check the latest pricing here. Both plans come with a seven-day free trial to determine if Kodable is suitable for you and your kid.
12. Code Avengers
Courses are delivered in a self-paced environment and tailored to the child’s skill level, with foundational, intermediate, and advanced categories. The classes are also text-based, covering an introduction to coding, web development, and language-based lessons.
As learning progresses, kids learn to debug code and complete challenges. Depending on their focus, students will also gain the ability to build websites, games, and apps at the end of their program.
Parents can track their child’s progress through the courses with a Parent Dashboard. You will be able to view their performances, the projects they have created, and learned concepts.
While lessons are delivered completely online, parents and kids still have access to online and technical support. Code Avengers’s team comprises software developers, school teachers, marketers, and designers. All prepared to help your child get the best out of the experience.
Parents can check it out with a seven-day free trial before opting for a premium account.
13. Khan Academy
Khan Academy is another excellent platform for kids to learn coding online. It is a nonprofit that offers courses in multiple subjects, including computer programming. For parents who need a one-stop destination to develop and expand their kids’ knowledge, this is a worthwhile option.
Besides learning course content, kids also get to speak with professionals across various industries to learn about life as professional programmers.
General courses are delivered via video, but programming lessons use talk-throughs, which are more interactive. Students can play around with onscreen code and work their way through coding challenges and projects.
Learners also have access to a community of other learners to discuss lessons, share projects, and ask questions.
Due to the advanced nature of lesson delivery and course content, Khan Academy is most suitable for high school kids and adults. However, younger kids who are further along tech-wise can still get good use out of the program.
Are you looking to introduce your kid to coding or channel their screen time to more productive activities? CodeMonkey is a fun coding website where children write code to help a monkey gather bananas.
It is a learning tool for kids ages eight and above, but it is also useful for 1st and 2nd graders. The platform also offers educational resources for Pre-K and K students, but coding lessons are block-based.
The game spans multiple challenges, and its stories help kids learn coding concepts like algorithms, sequencing, direction, logic, and loops.
To use Code Monkey, parents or guardians do not have to install anything. The platform is entirely web-based and accessible from any web browser.
Full access, however, requires an annual subscription fee, available in teacher and family plans. You can check the platform’s webpage for the latest pricing plans.
Got a bunch of Apple devices that your kids won’t stop playing with? Why not introduce them to Swift Playgrounds, a learning app that teaches Swift, Apple’s proprietary programming language. It is a language used by professional developers to build many of the platform’s popular apps.
Swift Playgrounds requires no coding knowledge, and students learn the basics of the language by solving puzzles. Using a text-based editor, they use real code to navigate a character through the app’s 3D environment.
As learning progresses, kids take on multiple challenges that introduce them to more complex puzzles and tasks. Eventually, students will learn how to build complex code that they can share with friends, family, and the rest of the world.
Swift Playgrounds is available in 13 languages, and the list keeps growing. Additionally, it is free, with the only caveat that it is exclusive to iPad and Mac devices.
If you are interested in giving it a look, it is excellent for children ages eight and above.
Every single program and learning platform on our list are excellent alternatives to help kids learn and expand their coding knowledge. However, none of them matches the global reach and the practical advantages of Code.org.
It is completely free, and its curriculum is available in more than 67 languages. As a result, it is ideal for both native English speakers and kids from various ethnic groups.
Furthermore, it is widely recognized across major school districts in the United States. Students can combine their private classes with structured school lessons.
Lastly, it offers in-person classes, a valuable advantage for students without access to their own devices. It also provides a chance to create real-life programming friendship groups that contribute to lasting motivation.
Tom loves to write on technology, e-commerce & internet marketing. I started my first e-commerce company in college, designing and selling t-shirts for my campus bar crawl using print-on-demand. Having successfully established multiple 6 & 7-figure e-commerce businesses (in women’s fashion and hiking gear), I think I can share a tip or 2 to help you succeed.