I’m a Parent, how can I help Code Club?

If you’re a parent looking to contribute to your child’s school community, how about starting a Code Club? Whether you’re a coding expert or an absolute beginner, we’re looking for enthusiastic parent volunteers who can start an after-school coding club in their child’s school.

Interested to find out more? We spoke to Elbrie de Kock, the co-founder of Tech Age Kids, a blog about technology for kids and families.  She started a Code Club in Chandlers Ford in January 2016, and she told us about her experiences so far:


053-1

I was inspired to start my own Code Club whilst trying to help my son find his feet in the world of computing as an enthusiastic young coder. I wanted to make sure my own kids and their peers at school have access to the fantastic resources Code Club have to offer.

At first, fear of not having the right qualifications prevented me from starting a Code Club. However, now I’ve got started, it’s incredible, and I realise my fear was unfounded.

Getting the club up and running

I registered as a volunteer on the Code Club site and then approached the school about starting the Code Club in November last year. From there, we sent out letters to all year 5 and 6 classes and it didn’t take long to fill the club and have a waiting list. We used all the resources available on the Code Club website to help us get started quickly and after Christmas we were up and running.

Our Code Club started in January 2016 and we used the curriculum and materials provided by Code Club straight out of the box. We meet once a week after school for an hour in the school’s computer lab with 18 year 5 and 6 pupils. The school is really lucky to have such a fantastic facility, allowing each child to have their own PC and we have room to grow.

Together with a teacher from the school and 2 other parent volunteers we decided to start with the 1st Scratch module and work our way through the projects. The kids found the first projects fairly easy, but now we are starting to get to more challenging ones. We’ve also added some fun elements, by trying out their Scratch projects with a Makey Makey.

The kids and school liked the Makey Makeys so much, they are planning a fundraising project to buy cool tech gadgets for the school. One fun idea was to host a Code Club for parents!

The benefits of volunteering

I am not a computer programmer and work in digital marketing. Code Club has definitely shown me learning new digital skills isn’t hard.  If the kids can do it, so can I. Every week, I try out the project we are going to do at the Code Club at home. I’m really enjoying it and impressed with my own growing coding skills.

My 7 year old son attends the club with me. I love being able to be part of an activity he really enjoys at his school. It’s great to be able to support your child in their school by starting a Code Club. I see the time I give to prepare and run the Code Club at my kids school as important as volunteering on the PTA or governing body. The school benefits from having a computing focussed activity, your child benefits from seeing you take an active interest in their schooling and you benefit from enabling other kids to be creative with technology.

In terms of volunteering with Code Club, it is really easy and there is a lot of support in the Code Club community. I would say, don’t over think it, just do it! There is a lot of support on the way.

Favourite Code Club moments

I think Code Club is brilliant, and my favourite moments are when the kids’ eyes light up when they get something right, or they have a new experience with technology that is fun and creative. The last week before half-term, we did a more tricky Scratch project. It was fascinating to see how differently each child responded to the challenges they faced.

My best moment has to be, when one of the coders, said at the end of the session, eyes shining with excitement; “Elbrie, I just can’t wait to get home and solve this problem! I am going to get it right!” Now that is what I call a great success.

Run a Code Club & boost your digital skills

Learning to code can be a great first step for children to gain an interest and passion in computing. This interest can open up a range of options for academic subjects and a variety of career paths in the future.

But it’s not just children who stand to gain career-boosting digital skills: running a Code Club is also a great way for adults to develop their coding knowledge.

Helping children learn to code builds your own skills and understanding of computing. We already have hundred of volunteers who have boosted their confidence, and their CV, by running a club.

DSC_6124 copy

Julie Sheppard, a parent who volunteers at a club at Widcombe Primary School in Bath, told us: “Before helping at Code Club I knew very little about coding. Now I have the basic knowledge to be able to create games and animations using Scratch, with future opportunities of using other languages. I would not have made the time to develop these skills if I was not involved in the club.”

For those who already have coding skills, Code Club can offer some new and rewarding challenges. Guy McCusker is another parent who volunteers at Widcombe Primary’s club, and is Deputy Head of Bath University’s Computer Science department. He told us that despite teaching programming to undergraduate students in huge groups for nearly 20 years, “helping at Code Club is a whole new game. Because the volunteers are not teachers, and because the club is meant to be for fun as well as for learning, we have to nudge the members gently along while sneaking in the instruction and recaps that are needed for the information to stick. All the members want something different from the club — everything from just passing time to being super keen to learn programming, and all points in between — so we have to adapt to them all individually.”

CodeClub2

Guy believes that parents and other prospective volunteers thinking about starting a Code Club “shouldn’t think twice — just do it. You absolutely do not need to be a coding expert to be able to run the sessions effectively. The Code Club resources are excellent, very well pitched for year 5 and 6 children, and the demands on volunteers are not that great. The rewards for the children are plain to see as they get to grips with programming concepts and create projects they are excited about.”

Keen to find out more about starting a club at your child’s school? Visit our website, and try our first sample coding project to see how simple and fun coding can be!

Parent volunteers: Run a Code Club at your child’s school

We’re always keen to get more parents involved in running Code Clubs at their children’s school. Here we profile two amazing parent volunteers who are currently leading a Code Club. They share how simple and rewarding it has been for them to take part in their school community by helping to give children the opportunity to learn to code.

At Firfield Primary School in Derby, three parents, Jas, Amanda and Ian, have been working together to run a weekly Code Club after school for the past 3 months, with some assistance from one of the school’s teachers.

Jas, a mum of three, came across Code Club as she was looking for a way to entertain her two eldest children over the summer holidays;  “I did not want the boys to be stuck in front of the TV all day and I was seeking activities that would stimulate making skills, problem solving and persistence.” So she scoured her local library for ideas, and came across a coding book, which taught Jas how to get started with the free coding software, Scratch. “Despite my lack of technical knowledge, that I was secretly embarrassed about, I was able to get started, and soon the boys and I were absolutely hooked. I was then getting stuck trying to find projects for them at a suitable level to keep their interest and it occurred to me that I would like to learn more myself so that I could teach them, and perhaps even boost my own career skills.”

JGhostPicas then attended a local Code Club meetup in Derby, and was convinced to start up a club in her children’s school. While chatting in the school playground, Jas also managed to convince her friend Amanda to help her run the club.

“My reason for getting involved was to help set up a Code Club in our community.  I believe that coding is an essential skill for the modern workplace and wanted to help all of the children in the school gain that skill.  I remember when I was growing up how my sister would not take part in any computing/ coding at home: she thought it was too difficult so never even tried.  Lots of the parents I know feel the same way.  But computational thinking, problem solving, coding, these are all things that can be simple and easy and fun!”

With the Code Club now in full swing, other parents have expressed an interest in getting involved. Jas told us that there are now “at least three other mums wanting to get more involved and there is considerable interest on the school playground, with people finding out about Scratch and going off to get started on their own.” Jas and Amanda are planning to do more activities to get the whole school community involved in coding activity, “We do hope to offer a Scratch workshop for parents soon and will be going in to do a presentation for teachers one INSET day. We may even be able to start running a second club.”

Yet Amanda told us that, initially, there was some resistance from other parents who doubted whether they had the right skills to help run the club. “People think they need to be expert coders in order to take part, but that isn’t the case.  Code Club projects give the club such a strong backbone that all you really need is a love for the subject and the ability to logically go through a set of instructions and find the mistake – every person who can follow a recipe or cook a Roast Dinner could code!”

ChildPic1For Jas, running a Code Club has brought a whole list of benefits, which has now moved beyond her initial aims of keeping her children entertained in the holidays;

“I love helping out at my children’s school and I know that this has generated a lot of excitement for kids and parents alike which gives me a great feeling…. Though, as a parent, I also understand that digital too often means passive consumption.  We all worry about too much screen time and worry that our children know more about technology than we do.  I feel that it is time that parents became more confident in the digital sphere that our children so fearlessly parade around, so that we can better guide and protect them, but also inspire them, empower them, to be creator-makers.”

Do you think that you could join parents like Jas and Amanda to run your own Code Club? Find out more about getting started on our website.