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Tips for Balancing Academics and Coding Simultaneously

Published on September 27, 2023 | Posted in  

It isn’t easy serving two masters! People with multiple passions often struggle to find enough time to devote to both. Kids who are hungry to learn computer programming need ample time to study, experiment, and play with the code.

Coding is a discipline as open-ended as your skills and imagination. Once you grasp the fundamentals, kids can build things like their own games or custom Minecraft modifications. From there, it’s not long until they create basic websites or even design and work towards a rudimentary app.

But, like anything, it takes a while to get to the point where coders can create whatever enters their imagination. They need time to freely explore and roam, and this can be hard to find when they also need to juggle their responsibilities at school.

RP4K’s online coding courses guide them and teach them new skills, though that’s not the same thing as testing them out and experimenting. Parents have struggled to get their kids to embrace homework decades before online coding existed, so part of the challenge about finding the right balance between the two involves sticking to each one.

Still, here are some tips parents and students can use to help maintain a healthy balance between school and coding.

Set Goals

Like the great US jazz composer and band leader Duke Ellington said, “I don’t need time. What I need is a deadline.” It’s counterintuitive, but sometimes too much free time makes people less productive, not more. Kids get targets and goals from their schoolteacher concerning when homework and projects are due. It makes sense to implement this logic outside of school, too.

If a child is new to coding, it may be better not to pressure them. But for others, a deadline with a goal may help keep them on track. Make the goals flexible.

For example, keen students may decide to reach a certain phase in their game, website, or app as their goal. Novice students could set out to practice for two or three hours a week. These goals should be seen as directions to head towards rather than ironclad rules to follow.

Productive Play

Play is very important for kids, and they need different types. One school of thought claims modern parents hover over their young kids too much, and as a result, kids don’t get the same level of freedom and privacy to play as they did years ago. Parents just want to supervise! But their presence can interrupt how children might otherwise play, and this freedom to roam is key to their learning.

girl smiling behind a laptop

“Play” may seem to adults like frivolous fun. However, kids learn about many things that help their cognitive and emotional development, from social cues to lots more. Teenagers may struggle when integrating coding into a hectic schedule because they have a busy social and academic life, but play remains an important concept.

There’s a difference between the type of guided, structured coding students do in supervised programming sessions and what they do on their own.

If teens spend time alone refining and improving their coding skills, that’s excellent! It’s also not quite “play,” even if they enjoy it. Parents should consider that kids need time for homework, idle time with friends to hang out, and a third category in the middle where coding fits in.

Kids really improve as coders when they take it up in their spare time. Play can be productive. If your child spends too much time coding and neglects their schoolwork, that’s different! They need to finish their homework.

But parents used to worry that too much “screen time” would rot their brains and make them slothful — learning to code is an active skill that prepares them for life in a digital world. The coding they’re “playing” with will prepare them for the future workforce and daily life in a digital world.

Take Computer Class in School

More Ontario schools are incorporating coding in their curriculums. Computer class used to mean learning how to type. Much has changed.

Your child will find it much easier to balance coding and their schoolwork if that’s what they study in class. Imagine taking coding throughout the school year as an extracurricular in addition to learning programming as a core class.

In general, it’s good for kids and high school students to learn a range of subjects and get a broad range of exposure. The humanities, maths, and sciences are important. If your child has a strong interest in computer programming, there’s nothing wrong with focusing on it outside school.

Many kids take tutoring for subjects like math or literature outside school. This would be no different.

Structured Classes Make a Difference

Kids learn much better when extracurricular activities for kids are structured and the sessions are small. RP4K limits class sizes to four, so there are at most three other students with your child.

Students have a much easier time balancing their schoolwork and coding sessions when they can absorb the material quickly and get all the support they need in a calm, structured atmosphere.

Our teachers study computer science and computer engineering at university. They grew up playing video games themselves! Their expertise and first-hand experience as a gamer are the perfect combo to launch young coders on a fun and fulfilling programming journey.

RP4K is free of classroom management issues that can arise when too many students are packed into a session. Our teachers and students get familiar with each other quickly, and they thrive in small, structured classroom environments.

There’s lots to learn and do in life, especially for young students. They need to socialize after school, work on their academics, and take up extracurriculars. This type of life can be stressful and may feel like you’re juggling many balls at once. But when the material you’re learning is vital to the world around you, exciting to learn, and taught in the right environment, kids can tackle it and manage to thrive outside as well.

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