Parent volunteers: Run a Code Club at your child’s school

We’re always keen to get more parents involved in running Code Clubs at their children’s school. Here we profile two amazing parent volunteers who are currently leading a Code Club. They share how simple and rewarding it has been for them to take part in their school community by helping to give children the opportunity to learn to code.

At Firfield Primary School in Derby, three parents, Jas, Amanda and Ian, have been working together to run a weekly Code Club after school for the past 3 months, with some assistance from one of the school’s teachers.

Jas, a mum of three, came across Code Club as she was looking for a way to entertain her two eldest children over the summer holidays;  “I did not want the boys to be stuck in front of the TV all day and I was seeking activities that would stimulate making skills, problem solving and persistence.” So she scoured her local library for ideas, and came across a coding book, which taught Jas how to get started with the free coding software, Scratch. “Despite my lack of technical knowledge, that I was secretly embarrassed about, I was able to get started, and soon the boys and I were absolutely hooked. I was then getting stuck trying to find projects for them at a suitable level to keep their interest and it occurred to me that I would like to learn more myself so that I could teach them, and perhaps even boost my own career skills.”

JGhostPicas then attended a local Code Club meetup in Derby, and was convinced to start up a club in her children’s school. While chatting in the school playground, Jas also managed to convince her friend Amanda to help her run the club.

“My reason for getting involved was to help set up a Code Club in our community.  I believe that coding is an essential skill for the modern workplace and wanted to help all of the children in the school gain that skill.  I remember when I was growing up how my sister would not take part in any computing/ coding at home: she thought it was too difficult so never even tried.  Lots of the parents I know feel the same way.  But computational thinking, problem solving, coding, these are all things that can be simple and easy and fun!”

With the Code Club now in full swing, other parents have expressed an interest in getting involved. Jas told us that there are now “at least three other mums wanting to get more involved and there is considerable interest on the school playground, with people finding out about Scratch and going off to get started on their own.” Jas and Amanda are planning to do more activities to get the whole school community involved in coding activity, “We do hope to offer a Scratch workshop for parents soon and will be going in to do a presentation for teachers one INSET day. We may even be able to start running a second club.”

Yet Amanda told us that, initially, there was some resistance from other parents who doubted whether they had the right skills to help run the club. “People think they need to be expert coders in order to take part, but that isn’t the case.  Code Club projects give the club such a strong backbone that all you really need is a love for the subject and the ability to logically go through a set of instructions and find the mistake – every person who can follow a recipe or cook a Roast Dinner could code!”

ChildPic1For Jas, running a Code Club has brought a whole list of benefits, which has now moved beyond her initial aims of keeping her children entertained in the holidays;

“I love helping out at my children’s school and I know that this has generated a lot of excitement for kids and parents alike which gives me a great feeling…. Though, as a parent, I also understand that digital too often means passive consumption.  We all worry about too much screen time and worry that our children know more about technology than we do.  I feel that it is time that parents became more confident in the digital sphere that our children so fearlessly parade around, so that we can better guide and protect them, but also inspire them, empower them, to be creator-makers.”

Do you think that you could join parents like Jas and Amanda to run your own Code Club? Find out more about getting started on our website.