TL; DR: Over the years, there has been a jump in interest in coding for young students because of the valuable lessons and skills it provides. As the world becomes more digital, these skills will be needed more than ever. theCoderSchool allows kids to learn code and logical thinking at their own pace with a customized curriculum and mentorships. It combines a small teacher-to-student ratio with coding fundamentals to help students learn everything from programming languages to game development. We spoke with Hansel Lynn, Founder and CEO of theCoderSchool, about what makes the platform stand out and the valuable lessons students receive along the way.
Computer programming is the wave of the future, meaning its role in the next generation will be as prolific as ever. With the world diving deeper into digital transformation, many parents have chosen to place their children in coding education programs to give them a head start and learn valuable cyber skills. Learning to code has proven to be an excellent tool for young students, whether they want a future career in coding or not.
According to Robo Wunderkind, coding can carry multiple benefits for children. They can learn logical thinking, nurture their creativity, and foster resilience — showing that coding also lends to the foundation of practical soft skills. theCoderschool is an after-school coding education program that helps kids understand and learn coding at their own pace.
“It’s really important to get kids to learn how to code. It’s going to help not only the kid in any career that they decide to think logically, but it’s also going to help us get more people interested in computer programming,” said Hansel Lynn, Founder and CEO of theCoderSchool.
Hansel founded theCoderSchool in 2014 after leading a successful coding career in Silicon Valley. He was also a franchisee of a rock music school for kids for a few years. Through this stint, Hansel learned to understand the teaching community and parental relationships.
So he merged these two experiences, his coding background and newfound educational skills, to create theCoderSchool. Now, the school has expanded to 64 locations across the US and helps young students accomplish their coding goals.
Providing the Human Element to Coding Education
theCoderSchool’s founding story has many layers, but what it highlights is the importance of the human touch in education. When Hansel founded theCoderSchool, no after-school programs were available for students to learn coding in Silicon Valley. He had previously enrolled his children in an online class to help them learn code but noticed a huge flaw in the system.
“It’s so hard, especially since kids these days know how to game the online system. They’re just trying to get to the end, not necessarily learn. If they have a question, who are they going to? So that’s when the idea came up: you got to have a coach sitting next to you,” said Hansel.
When Hansel asked his daughter questions about her lessons, he realized she didn’t digest much of the material and could not answer them. This highlighted for Hansel the necessity of the human component and social interaction, which has become theCoderSchool’s brand factor. Everything the school does is centered around relationship-oriented teaching, allowing students to receive one-on-one care and assistance to thrive in their learning plans.
Although its curriculum is flexible, theCoderSchool emphasizes the fundamentals of coding in its classes. Hansel said it can be tricky discussing curriculum because the press on coding likes to push new trends and technologies on parents. But Hansel believes every young student should focus on the fundamentals to fully grasp coding and build logical thinking, a foundational skill for their futures.
“But the fact is, for most kids, you still have to learn the base. There’s this huge foundation of all these things that you have to learn before you can really get to the next step,” said Hansel.
Learning other coding specialties can be difficult. This is why theCoderSchool mentors help students first ace the fundamentals, so when they do move on to more advanced programs, they will be ready for complex teachings. “We’re here to get them the foundational stuff and to get them passionate about it. So that they’ll be interested in pursuing further in college and beyond,” said Hansel.
Brightening Futures With Valuable Experiences
One of the most notable challenges its students have competed in is the Congressional App Challenge. US House of Representatives members run the annual competition and invite districts across the country to participate. Hansel said some of his students have gone on to win the challenge and have met with their district’s Representative in Washington, D.C. Hansel has also been a keynote speaker for the event in the past.
“We’ve been partnered with them for quite a long time. Our goal is to help them spread the word, and their goal is to get more kids to code. So it’s in lockstep with what we do,” said Hansel.
Since the challenge started, Congress’ mentions of coding have increased by 2,000%. So, their collaborative efforts have not gone unnoticed. Through the challenge, students are able to create whatever application they want and display their innovative abilities. All of this also helps students get valuable experiences they can’t find anywhere else.
“We’ve had some kids get to top schools in the country like MIT. While we don’t set them up in terms of college applications, we help them do the stuff that can go on their applications, like creating these apps and doing contests,” said Hansel.
Flexible Curriculum Open to New Trends
Besides its relationship-oriented teaching, what makes theCoderSchool so valuable is its customizable curriculum that can fit personalized needs. Its Code Coaches guide students through an individualized immersion style that suits their learning journey. Since theCoderSchool is flexible with its lessons, it can also onboard new teachings without much hassle.
“If something new comes out online, we’re able to teach with that. So I’m super excited to have found that Google has this base-level learning platform called Teachable Machine. And it’s basically a way to make AI models,” said Hansel.
theCoderSchool has already added the Teachable Machine tool to some of its sessions. By leveraging this tool, theCoderSchool coaches can make AI, a super complicated subject, understandable to young students. Google already provided a simple learning approach with the Teachable Machine, so all theCoderSchool had to do was combine it with its platform.
“When you have a coach or mentor beside you explaining, it just makes it much easier to grasp versus just sending the kids to the online version of it,” said Hansel.
Hansel said theCoderSchool isn’t fixed to any one curriculum, and coaches also leverage their background knowledge to inform the lesson process. With this approach, they can meet kids where they are and help them find the education they need to brighten their horizons.
“There’s a ridiculous amount of technology coming our way. So for the next generation, the more it knows, the more powerful this country will be. And the better the economy will be, the more productive everybody will be. So to the parents out there, if you have a kid, get them to code. That’s the main message,” said Hansel.