Code Clubs generally take place after school, either in a school itself, or a community space such as a library or community centre. Aimed at children aged 9 – 11, they provide a fun, informative, exciting introduction to learning to code using free software and specially written projects. I’ve been involved in running Code Clubs for over two years, so here are 7 things I’ve learned about how to make your club a happy, successful, rewarding space.
- Prepare in advance – Every week, I think about which project we will be working on and make sure I complete it in advance. That way I can identify any new concepts which might need explaining and spot any sections which the children might need support on. A completed version of each project is also available to download from the Code Club website, but I find that it’s really helpful to have my own version to refer to as well.
- Working together works best – I’ve worked with teachers, librarians and other volunteers to run clubs. The best sessions happen when all the adults involved take an active part in the club and have a role to play.
- Kids love the projects – The Code Club projects are available to download free of charge for registered, active clubs and they guide children to create games, animations and web pages which they love to interact with.
- Perseverance pays – Sometimes code works first time, sometimes it doesn’t. An important part of Code Club is supporting children in different ways to help them find and fix the errors in their code.
- It’s not just about coding – Spending time testing, playing and using the digital artefacts which the children have made is just as important as writing the code. These activities help children to really understand how their code works, which sections need changing and how to create something which has a great user experience.
- The power of visibility – Once children have made something, it’s very satisfying for them to have the opportunity to show it to others. This might be by putting projects up on a whiteboard in front of the whole group, giving a demo in an assembly or embedding the project on the school website.
- Volunteering is rewarding – I always feel energised and enthused after volunteering at a Code Club. The creativity and logic which children display when they are coding is inspiring.
Katharine Childs is the North Regional Manager for Code Club, part of the Raspberry Pi Foundation. She is currently studying for an MSc in Computing in Education at Nottingham Trent University and advocated for why children should learn to code in her TEDx talk “Coding the Hairy Toe”. Any school, library, community venue or educational setting can register to access the free projects at www.codeclub.org.uk or for the rest of the world, go to www.codeclubworld.org. There are over 8,000 Code Clubs worldwide at the time of writing – why not join us?