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Increase Access to Computer Science with Afterschool Coding Classes

Tuesday, 26 July 2022 14:18

Today’s children are growing up in a world that is highly reliant on technology. They will also face a job market where computer and technology skills will not only give them a head start but will likely be required. However, according to the 2021 State of Computer Science Education report, only 51% of high schools and 31% of K-8 schools in the US currently offer computer science. That’s where afterschool programs can step in and fill the gap.

Offering computer programming classes in an afterschool program introduces kids to coding who might not otherwise have access to this kind of education either at school or at home. Bonnie Bracey Sutton, who teaches at the Charles Houston Recreation Center in Alexandria, VA, sought out a grant to update computers at the center and then focused on finding the appropriate resources to use them to teach students how to code. 

“Use of technology and learning to code and to understand the importance of being more than a user of technology is important,” Bonnie says, “but being a creator also became important. Workforce readiness skills also come to mind.”

The center ultimately chose to go with CodeWizardsHQ’s Essentials program to teach 3rd-5th graders coding fundamentals through Scratch. The ready-made curriculum made it easy to get kids started learning coding basics quickly through fun, interactive projects. She discovered that the students were immediately enthusiastic about their new coding skills and was encouraged by which students chose to take the classes.

“Many of my students are students who might not have otherwise been selected to learn to code,” Bonnie says. “I always smile when they ask if they can stay another hour.”

While obviously, not every student will go on to work in computer science as an adult, there are long-lasting benefits to gaining these skills. Learning how to program not only teaches kids how to create things with code, it strengthens their computational thinking skills. Being able to look at a problem and work through it step by step is a skill that can be applied to all school subjects and sets kids up for success.

“Coding may change, but habits formed from following directions and working individually are important,” Bonnie agrees. “Supportive creativity makes for confidence. If with the tiniest of fingers one can create and compose, interest grows in learning.”

The educational benefits of offering coding classes in an afterschool program are clear, but kids also have a lot of fun creating games and webpages with their newly-learned skills.

“Children like to share their work and compare their stories, so we had a great deal of fun sharing,” says Bonnie. “They even organized a Scratch birthday party, cards and all, without my knowing it using the CodeWizardsHQ lesson!”

The coding program for grades 3-5 has been so successful at the Charles Houston Recreation Center that they’re expanding to offer classes for middle school students as well.

Learn more about the CodeWizardsHQ Essentials program at

Contributed by Kelli DeMoville,  School Programs Coordinator with CodeWizardsHQ

About CodeWizardsHQ
CodeWizardsHQ is the leading online coding school for kids and teens ages 8-18. Founded in 2017, the company offers classes with a student-first approach with a curriculum that is comprehensive, developmental, challenging, and fun.