Code Combat

screen-shot-2017-01-22-at-9-39-36-pmIf you follow educational trends at all, you will learn about the need to teach coding and computer science to our students.  The UK actually includes coding as part of their nationwide curriculum, and more countries are following (or leading) suit.  If you google phrases like “teaching code in America,” the top hits are all articles talking about how America is failing students for not teaching coding.  As a mom, I don’t want my kids falling behind students in other countries because they aren’t getting the education they need today to be ready for the global job market.

Classical Education, when followed as outlined in several popular methods, focuses more on learning the roots of our heritage and Western culture.  I consider myself some sort of hybrid classical educator.  I follow the trivium and inundate my kids with knowledge of what came before, but I also believe it is vital to learn important 21st century skills to be competitive in the job market.

To this end I have tried to teach coding to my kids.  We got involved in VEX robotics and started learning RobotC.  We got the Coding for Beginners using Scratch book from Usborne and started diving into the free online Scratch program.  VEX was fun, but costly, and honestly the challenges were really hard for my elementary school children.  I feel like some scaffolding is needed before VEX would be really effective for them.  I may go into all of that in some other post about VEX.  Scratch is great, but I really want my kids to learn some coding languages.  We do Scratch a lot, and my kids really enjoy it, so it is definitely worth it, but I am so excited about Code Combat.

Code Combat teaches coding to students using a game format.  The students type in real code in Python or Javascript.  There are currently 6 computer science courses in Python and Javascript, 2 game development courses, and 2 web development courses.  You can try the beginning level for free by going to www.codecombat.com.  I love that the student learns text-based coding.  I love that it is fun for them.  My 8 and 10 year olds enjoy playing the game.  My son has been zooming through the lessons and after a month is more than half-way through the Computer Science 2 course.  He has learned about “while true loops” and defining functions.  He has learned rudimentary sensor programming by finding distances to nearby enemies.  These things were hard to teach using VEX and other sources mostly because I lack the knowledge myself, and the instructor needed to know how before the student.  This takes me out of it, and I have learned a lot by watching over his shoulder.

The homeschool buyers co-op has a deal on Code Combat for a year subscription for $70 for up to 5 students.  We subscribed at the end of December and I feel like it has already repaid my investment since the other options I tried were so much more expensive and my kids didn’t learn nearly as quickly or as much.  I highly recommend checking out the free beginner levels and seeing if it will work for you and your family.

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