March 3, 2014 by Natalie

Getting Kids Into Code

coding-kidWhether or not you believe there’s a developer shortage (many people do and many people don’t), one thing is clear: tech jobs will only continue to grow as other industries shrink.

I’ve got a four-year-old daughter, and I want to help give her the brains she might need to get a job in tech someday, if she chooses. Unless the robots code everything instead.

I was an artsy kid, into music, literature, and the performing arts, and while I’m incredibly happy with the way my career has turned out, I do wish that I’d had a little more math exposure so that if I wanted to do something slightly more technological I would have had the groundwork to do so.

For parents like me, who want to expose their kids to programming, here are some resources to get you started.


Kids Ruby


Kids Ruby teaches children real Ruby code and shows them the immediate output. They’re currently working on building lessons and classes, but for now it’s relatively self guided.

It seems especially valuable for younger kids, who can see very basic results from writing code. Kids Ruby has paired up with other kids programming events and seems to be expanding.


iD Tech Camps

Online subscription $179 a year; Summer camps from $799


Starting at age seven, kids can attend day or overnight (age 10+) summer camps in 28 states to learn basic game design, programming, robotics, and web design, among other areas.

iD also has an online program with tutorials, forums, workshops, and an online arcade.


Digital Media Academy



Digital Media Academy’s camps, held on a dozen college campuses across the country, are for children age 6 to 18.

Areas include programming and app development, game design and development, UX and design, robotics and engineering, and more.


Built for K-12, is a nonprofit dedicated to getting more computer science education in public schools and to encourage more women and underrepresented people of color to get into programming.

There are tutorials online to help your children learn to code with puzzles and games. One cool feature of is a tutorial to help you learn how to code without a computer.


Code Now



Code Now is dedicated to getting more women and minorities into tech. It’s a free program for high school students in Washington D.C., San Francisco, and New York City. Students must apply and be accepted into the program.

Students learn how to build a Twitter app and an encryption engine in Ruby, and as many as 1/3 of the students who go through the Code Now program end up majoring in Computer Science in college.




Programmable robots for kidsThese programmable robots, made for children 5 and up, teach children programming and robotics through an easy interface.

Younger children learn visual programming that incorporates stories and music. Older children learn to write code for iOS or Android using the Play-i API.

There are currently two robot models available, and the company is completely sold out but taking pre-orders for December 2014.

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