Summertime brings many wonderful things. Beautiful weather, free time, and my kids’ favorite — summer camp. Each year, they look forward to a week or two of spending their days exploring exciting activities with new friends, learning new things, and just having fun.
COVID-19 has certainly thrown a wrench in those plans. For the safety of all, our typical camp is no longer opening this summer, and this mama has been left wondering what to do! Sure, we will all enjoy an old-fashioned, laid-back summer at home, but I wanted to find something special for my kids to do. Something fun for them to look forward to, and an activity to break up our long days.
But, how do you do that without leaving home?
Code Wiz in Arlington is our answer! When I first stumbled upon their website, I was intrigued by the dozens of course offerings and summer camp options, many for kids as young as 7 years old! From Minecraft to Roblox, classes based on many of the games my kids spend their days playing popped up on the screen.
What better way to learn about coding than by integrating it with something you already love?
My older boys (ages 12 and 14) looked at the website and squealed with excitement at the prospect of creating their own apps and animations. My (not-very-computer-literate) mom brain thought a coding class sounded a bit boring, so I was thrilled to see there was a free trial class to see what it was all about before committing to a full week of camp!
My 12-year-old son, Ashton, met with his CodeWiz Coach, Jada, via Zoom for the hour-long class. Jada asked us some questions to gain knowledge about my son’s coding background (which was absolutely none!) and explained that she would be guiding him through a game called Code Combat, where he would complete missions using the Python language. Together, with the aid of screen sharing and voice guidance, Jada guided Ashton through creating algorithms to make his game character move through missions. Arrows appeared on the screen to let him know where to begin typing, and a split screen provided a clear view of what effects the codes he was typing were having on the game characters in real time. To his delight, game characters earned badges as he learned new skills, and he was thrilled to see his achievements on the screen.
The class was self-paced and allowed my son the freedom to experiment and to make mistakes. As he got stuck, Jada patiently talked him through figuring out where he went wrong, and she let him work out how to fix errors on his own. As he gained knowledge, more complex skills were added for him to achieve.
At the end of our hour, he lamented that it had gone by way too fast!
From the mom point of view, I was amazed at how much he learned in just an hour! Seeing him so excited to learn new skills was a wonderful experience. Watching him gain knowledge about coding certainly makes this mama feel less guilty about the amount of screen time the kids are getting lately!