Turn idle technology time into active learning by introducing your kids to the wonders of coding. Teaching kids to code helps them develop critical thinking, problem solving and STEAM-related skills, gives them the pride of creating their own content, and is a skill that might just come in handy later in their lives. Luckily, this is a great time for children interested in how their favorite apps work under the hood: New York City has a great selection of coding classes for kids. Below are some of our favorites.

photo: Pixel Academy

Pixel Academy

Pixel Academy wants kids to get creative with how they look at technology. Students are encouraged to ask questions and stay focused on projects, all with a safe and encouraging environment. The afterschool program teaches kids to code through games they love, like Roblox, Minecraft, and Fortnite, or even through modern-day tech like Alexa and Virtual Reality. 

Along with the actual coding lessons, Pixel Academy will also instruct students in 3D model creation, video-game media and marketing, and how to be respectful to other players (and each other) — in other words, all the skills they'd need to make their own games from start to finish.

Kids ages 7-14 can enroll in an afterschool program, join the seasonal camps, or visit during the one-day camps, which take place during nearly every public school closing — though these mini-camps are oriented more around the actual playing of video-games, not making them. There's also the option to book a birthday party at the space.

163 Pacific St.
Cobble Hill

256 West St.
Tribeca

Online: pixelacademy.org

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The Coding Space

The Coding Space is directed at kids ages 8-14 and uses kid-oriented programs to move up to rea-world languages. Coding is taught using the Socratic Method: by allowing students to ask meaningful questions, instead of lecturing them on what to do. Kids start coding from Scratch (literally — a program designed for kids at MIT), then branch off to specialize in more focused areas of coding. Classes are kept small (four kids per instructor) and lessons are project-oriented and self-paced. 

Along with seasonal camps and an afterschool program, The Coding Space has programs that last from 14-17 weeks. You can also enroll your child in a single class to try it out if you're not sure it's right for you. 

Although most classes are co-ed, the GirlCode classes specifically cater to girls and young women, aiming to encourage and empower them in the field. 

165 E. 88 St.
Upper East Side

1 W 88th St
Upper West Side

461 6th St
Park Slope

Port Washington & Roslyn
Long Island

Online: thecodingspace.com 

Apple

Yes, that Apple. The company's been offering Hour of Code programs and other coding opportunities for kids for years, usually for free. Every summer, kids can participate in Apple Camp, a free three-session program that takes place in local Apple stores. As you can imagine, spots fill up quickly, so sign up to be notified of when registration opens here.

In addition to the camp, Apple also hosts workshops throughout the year where kids can dip their feet into coding. These workshops teach kids 12 or older to code for Apple products, and introduce 6- to 12-year-olds to programming using programmable Sphero robots.

Best of all, if you own an iPad, you can turn your own home into a coding academy using the free Swift Playground app. This kid-friendly app teaches Swift, the programming language used by iOS developers, in a way that's approachable for kids. 

Online: apple.com/today

 

photo: Sylvan

Sylvan

If your child thrives in a more school-like environment, Sylvan might be the right choice for them. Here, kids in elementary through middle school meet for an hour per week and work on a predetermined project. Classes are less self-directed and more instruction-based, teaching an assortment of skills that align with school curriculums as well as Common Core. 

Kids learn to code using the child-friendly Tynker system. Although there's no shift to real-world languages, the program serves as an excellent starting point for thinking through coding problems and scenarios. In addition, kids are taught world-building and character creation, audio and special effect application, and problem solving. The end goal of the full session is to create a playable game.

2579 E. 17th St., Unit 2A
Sheepshead Bay

3132 East Tremont
Parkchester, Bronx

297 Livingston St
Downtown Brooklyn

200 W 86th St.
Upper West Side

Online: sylvanlearning.com 

Visit the Sylvan website to choose your location or click on the link above for a course description.  

photo: Robofun

Robofun

Although Robofun offers many types of STEM learning like, of course, robot making and programming, kids can also take coding classes here. In fact, Robofun uses MIT-developed Scratch to instruct kids, Robofun boasts having Dr. Mitchel Resnick — who created the language along with his associates — as a board member. 

In the coding program, which is intended for kids in 3rd-6th grade, students will learn how to make different types of games, including adventure, maze, and platforming games. Instruction is highly personal as Robofun knows that everyone learns differently, and instructors will personalize their teaching to fit every child's needs. 

Children can sign up for a full afterschool program or attend a one-off drop-in class or workshop. As an added bonus, if you decide to bring your child back for lessons again after completing the afterschool program once, you're assured that they'll learn brand new things and will never have to repeat material. There are also other interesting options here, like learning how electricity works through Minecraft and stop-motion animation.

2672 Broadway, Loft A
Upper West Side

Online: robofun.org

Game-U

Developed by actual professionals from the game industry, Game-U provides comprehensive, project-driven instruction on making games and everything that goes into that. In addition to coding in languages like C++ and Javascript, the program also teaches level design, animation, 3D printing, and even robotics. 

Classes, afterschool programs, and camp are all available for kids ages 6 and up, or you can drop in on a lesson online via the live-stream service. 

195 Montague St., 14th Floor
Brooklyn Heights

315 W. 36th St., 7th Floor
Midtown West

4442 Arthur Kill Rd.
Staten Island

Online: game-u.com

photo: iD Tech Camp

iD Tech

Did you know that your local college may have coding classes for kids? And chances are, if it does, it's through iD Tech. The program over 50 different courses running at various college campuses, including NYU, Pace University, Queens College, and more. 

Classes are available for kids starting at 7 years old and include fun offerings like Scratch learning, Java coding with Minecraft, Python with Cozmo, game design, Roblox world building, and much, much more. Kids can even enroll in a course that'll allow them to build their own laptop (and take it home!).

Instruction is less self-paced here than in other programs, and drives kids to learn and complete specific tasks in each class, leading up to the completion of their predetermined projects. Many classes also let kids take home their creations along with useful extras like course transcripts, a certificate of completion, and sometimes even the tech they were working with.

Online: idtech.com

Girls Who Code

This well-known nonprofit organization aims to close the gender gap in STEM fields by giving girls the opportunity to learn coding and related skills. The organization brings free coding classes to libraries and other community locations across NYC for girls from 3rd through 12th grade. 

Classes are led by "Clubs" — in fact, parents, teachers and librarians are able to start their own Club if they have the means and want to contribute to the movement and community. The program also offers paid courses and a summer immersion program if your little one(s) get into it and want to take their learning further. Girls in grades 3-5 learn on and off the computer, honing their thinking skills to prepare them to think like a programmer, while 6th-12th graders get hands-on with the tech.

You can find a class near you on the website but not all programs run year-long so contact the location to see what's available at the time. 

Online: girlswhocode.com 

—Yuliya Geikhman

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