Our Code Club rules! How to have fun and set boundaries

Creating guidelines for your Code Club can be a simple way to help your young coders make the most of the non-formal environment that Code Club offers. In this blog, we share a few ideas to help you get started.

Code Clubs are fun, creative, and at times wonderfully chaotic spaces. If you’re a teacher running a club at your school, it’s not always easy to transition from the role you take during class time, to a club leader hosting a more relaxed space. If you are a Code Club volunteer, there can also be challenges with entering a school as a new and unfamiliar face.

A classroom setting with young people sat at tables working on laptops.
Melbourn Code Club

Club leader Janine Kirk at the King’s Academy in Stoke-on-Trent shared how the informal element of Code Club has changed the learning experience for both her and her students:

“In classrooms it’s often quite structured, whereas in Code Club I can be a little bit more free and they can get to know me. We can have a bit of a joke – the students really enjoy that!”

Code Clubs should be less structured than the school day, but encouraging an atmosphere where everyone takes care of themselves, club equipment, and each other can help turn a good Code Club into a great one! One way to do this is to get your young coders to come up with a set of club rules with you. This helps create a Code Club that everyone can enjoy, whilst providing boundaries that keep your club safe, happy, and fun.

Create your club rules together

At the start of your Code Club journey, you’ll need to spend some time figuring out how best to run your club and then you can fine tune the details as you go. Involving your young coders in creating your club guidelines is a simple icebreaker activity, and being involved in the process can provide them with a sense of ownership and expectation around their behaviour.

Three boys in a classroom gathered around one laptop, laughing.
Working together to set club rules

Spend ten minutes during your first session discussing how your Code Club should run, with club attendees giving their ideas on how to make that vision a reality. Right from the start, you can use this as a chance to model expected behaviours: for example, should your club members raise their hands to share an answer, or are you happy for them to call out ideas?

Once you’ve decided on your final list, you can write them up using the “Our Code Club rules” template in your dashboard, or you could ask your club members to design their own reminders of the rules using paper and coloured pens or pencils.

Club rules template. Be kind, Listen to other, Have fun.
Club rules template

All ideas are welcome!

It’s up to you to choose ideas that will let your coders and Code Club thrive. Code Clubs should be fun and safe spaces, so your club rules could cover anything from behaviours that encourage exploration and imagination, to requests outlining how everyone should set up and pack away equipment each week.

If you need some inspiration to get started, here are a few ideas you could suggest:

  • Be kind, respectful, and treat others the way you would like to be treated.
  • During Code Club sessions, you can call the Club Leader by their first name. 
  • If someone is talking, make sure to listen. It’s okay to chat to each other during Code Club, but we listen quietly when someone is speaking.  
  • See three, before me. If your code isn’t working:
    • 1) Check you have completed all the steps 
    • 2) Compare your code to the example in the instructions, and
    • 3) Ask the person next to you for help, before you ask the Club Leader.
  • Be mindful of your behaviour online. Don’t share any personal information about yourself and follow any guidance shared. 
  • Take care of the equipment. Don’t eat or drink near computers, and put everything away neatly at the end of the session. 
  • Have fun and be creative! Enjoy learning new things and don’t be afraid to let your imagination run wild!   

What rules will you include in your Code Club? Let us know on social media using the hashtag #MyCodeClub

What I learned running my first Code Club

Join us as we dive into an inspiring journey! This summer, Sarah, our Community Coordinator for Wales, launched a Code Club in South Wales at LIwynypia Primary School. Discover what Sarah learned during this coding adventure. Over to you, Sarah!

Head shot of Sarah standing in front of an old wooden door.
Meet Sarah!

Helo, I’m Sarah, Community Coordinator for Wales. In this role, I am here to support you, our community, and help you run your Code Club with ease, confidence, and as little preparation time as possible, so you can concentrate on providing an environment that is fun, relaxed, and nurturing.

The support we provide is guided by community feedback — comments, requests, and suggestions from educators and young coders. But it’s important that we have on-the-ground experience to fully understand the challenges, and joys, of running a Code Club. This is one of the reasons I decided to start a Code Club this summer.

What I discovered while running my first Code Club

These are the eight things that I learned by running a Code Club.

1. Do the projects you find fun! Code Club is not about ticking boxes or monitoring progression, it’s about fun and creativity. There’s no correct project to start with, so just choose a project you’re comfortable with, and that you think will get the children excited.

2. Set the scene. I started each session with a fun, 5-minute activity to get the children laughing and demonstrate that this isn’t a formal class. I can’t recommend this enough!

3. Don’t worry about finishing the projects — there’s always next week! Some of the projects took much longer than anticipated; Paint box, I’m looking at you! We would have happily continued that project for three sessions if we had more time.

4. There are many different ways to run a club. We ran the club as a codealong for the first three sessions, before moving on to independent working. I sat at the front of the class demonstrating each step using a projector, and the children followed along. Run the club however it works for you and your coders.

Sarah on a GoogleMeet call.
Sarah hosting a codelaong

5. Be flexible. Disrupted travel kept me away from the school for two sessions. Instead of cancelling, we moved the club sessions online those weeks. Although it was much easier to facilitate the club in person, we changed the format to suit us and ran the sessions as a codealong. The children still had fun, and we didn’t have to cancel.

6. Offer choices. Letting the young coders lead the session can be scary, but by offering choices, we can share ownership of the club with the children without giving up all control. Here are some things you could try:

  • Ask what type of project they want to create: a chatbot, an animation, a game, or a storybook.
  • If they enjoyed an activity, bring it back the following weeks. We did a KAHOOT! quiz at the start of every session — there is a huge number of pre-made quizzes to choose from.
  • Let them work with a friend. Collaboration is an important part of coding.

7. Use a Scratch Teacher Account. It makes hosting a show-and-tell much easier if you can access the club members’ work through the linked Teacher Account — and boy, do the children enjoy sharing their work! I recommend selecting a maximum of two projects to showcase each week, or turning the final session into a showcase that parents and guardians can attend.

8. Certificates make a great reward. Rewards are a great way to motivate, engage, recognise achievement, and build confidence in your coders. Check out the huge selection of certificates on your dashboard, including our four new skills-based certificates!

Four certificates, in Welsh on a green background.
These certificates are available in English and Welsh

Explore the support available 

To help you get Code Club–ready, I’d encourage you to download our Club Organiser Pack.  The club organisers’ guide is full of tips to help you feel confident running your club sessions. Have fun with the Code Club bingo card, and celebrate your #MyCodeClub success stories with our educator social cards and GIFs. You can find the pack on your dashboard under ‘Resources’.

Five resources from the Club Organiser Pack.

If you have any tips that could benefit the rest of the community, I’d love to hear them. Get in touch at hello@codeclub.org.

Why is it important to cheer on learners’ coding achievements? We’ll tell you!

An important part of Code Club is celebrating learners’ victories — both big and small. 

By recognising the importance of achievements and what they mean to the young person, you can encourage them to further develop life skills such as resilience, independence, self-esteem, respect, and compassion. 

Why is it important?

Acknowledging success and hard work is a vital part of creating a safe learning environment. It creates a positive and supportive atmosphere where young coders can feel confident in their abilities and comfortable making mistakes that they can learn from.

Celebrating the achievements of young coders encourages and motivates them to continue developing their skills and explore other coding interests. It provides recognition for hard work and dedication, and can also be a source of pride that young people can share with their families. 

By highlighting the efforts of your club members, you not only raise the visibility of your Code Club, but you may inspire more young people to join or seek out other coding opportunities in your local area. Celebrating success can also drive your club members to advance their skills further, be confident to learn from others, and help build a community of peers who collaborate and share ideas. 

Where you can acknowledge effort in your club 

Within a Code Club setting there are many different ways that you can recognise the efforts made by young people. These can be big or small, so don’t wait for a huge milestone to be completed. The small successes are just as important too! 

You could positively reinforce activities in your club setting when a young person: 

  • Accomplishes something alone
  • Develops their coding skills 
  • Perseveres when tackling a challenge
  • Completes a task, project, or coding path
  • Shows creativity in their coding
  • Supports a peer to solve a problem
  • Leads by example, e.g. helps you set up and tidy away your club 

There are lots of ways you can then celebrate these efforts or achievements, for example:

  1. Print one of the many cool certificates on your club dashboard and present them in your club or in an achievement assembly 
  1. Run an end-of-term showcase, where learners can show their coding achievements to parents and carers
  1. Write an article for a school newsletter or link into a wider school recognition scheme, like ‘star of the week!’  

Never forget the importance of recognition, what it means to a child and the impact it can have on their development. Share how you mark the milestones in your Code Club by using the hashtag #MyCodeClub on Twitter and Facebook