If picking up the native language opens up a country’s culture and people to you, then picking up coding language will open up a new world of professional opportunities. Sentiments along such lines were echoed by both Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Minister for Foreign Affairs (also Minister in-charge for Smart Nation Programme Office) Vivian Balakrishnan, who stressed that coding and programming skills will be instrumental in gearing Singapore for a smart future.
Going by the success stories of Facebook in the U.S and Alibaba in China, the tech app-volution in Singapore is bustling more so than ever and it seems almost foolish not to ride on the explosive demand for IT-savvy personnel. Therefore, it certainly is no coincidence that parents are wasting little time in signing their children up for coding schools, which are recording growing numbers in their intakes.
So, yes, the times have indeed changed. Parents no longer want a math or science whiz. That’s so 90s. They now want a future Steve Jobs, or a Jack Ma in the make.
Coding lessons are officially the new Math tuition.
Mothers, if you are still searching for the perfect coding school to get your kids educated, look no further. We did a very Singaporean thing –much like how you did—and compiled a list of the most popular choices based on what other mothers are saying. OK, we didn’t. But yes, these five schools would be good enough a start for your precious budding programmer.
First Code Academy
Women entrepreneurs are really starting to arrive on the scene, and one of them is Michelle Sun. Formerly an analyst at Goldman Sachs Hong Kong, she left the banking industry to immerse herself in an intensive 12-week coding bootcamp at Hackbright Academy, an all-women software engineering school in the U.S. Following which, she started First Code Academy up, something she felt particularly passionate about.
First Code Academy offers four core programs for different age groups. ‘First Code Tinker’, for ages six to eight, uses tech kits such as Scratch, LittleBits, Makey Makey and Dash to introduce students to computer and mobile gaming.
‘First Code Explorer’ teaches students between nine and eleven how to create mobile app and games. ‘First Code Creator’ goes one step further to expose students of age 12+ to modern technology used by industry professionals.
Lastly, ‘First Code Entrepreneur’, for age 15+, students get to put their foundations to the test and engage in real life, hands on problem solving experience with non-profit organisations.
There are nine classes per term and course fees start at S$675.
The Keys Academy
The key to the future is technology and robotics, which is why The Keys Academy has their ‘Tech Star’ holiday camp to give children a head start in programming knowledge. The program, with its curriculum specially designed by Roger Kassebaum (winner of U.S Presidential Award for best STEM teacher), is divided into three age groups that corresponds to its difficulty level. Children as young as four as enrol in the course. The ‘Coding Foundations’ course teaches students how to create games and animations using Scratch. Prices start at S$960 for the 12-week program.
To groom well-rounded engineers and technologists, there are other electives in the ‘Tech Star’ holiday camp that complements the coding course, such as robotics and 3D designing and printing.
The Kid Coders
The name is unassuming, the courses are straightforward (yet big on the fun, they would emphasise) and they are serious about walking your child through the rewarding world of modern technology. The Kid Coders have two bootcamps to offer. ‘Game Programming Bootcamp’ is a hit with the students, simply because they get to code and create computer games after being familiarized with Scratch 2.0. Within the bootcamp are two expertise levels: Apprentice and Explorer. It is suitable for eight to 11 year-old children.
Advanced students who like to further develop their programming skills and knowledge can sign up for the ‘Young Coders Mentoring’ program.
Course fees start at S$310.
Started back in 2008, Nullspace has an award-winning, dedicated team of instructors that conduct courses for their Center For Robotics Learning (C4RL) arm. Under C4RL, there are three categories to choose from: Arduino Inventor Program, LEGO Robotics Certificate Program and CATALYST. Parents who want their kids to focus on coding fundamentals should check out Arduino Inventor and CATALYST, two focused electronics and coding classes that partly aim to help students get admitted to top schools via Direct School Admission exercise. It is suitable for ages 10 to 12. Teacher to student ratio is kept to a minimum (one instructor to a maximum of five students) to ensure specialised attention.
The ‘Chief Changemaker’ behind Saturday Kids, John Tan, said the school came about because of the lack of coding schools in Singapore when he first wanted to send his child to one. Started back in 2013, Saturday Kids went from two workshops during holiday periods to regular monthly Scratch workshops now.
The school has two main programming course tracks; ‘Creative Coder’ comprises Scratch programming, HTML/CSS for kids, Python for kids and Apple Swift for kids suitable for ages between seven and 15, and ‘Designer Engineer’ comprises ‘littleBits x Design thinking’, ‘Scratch x Makey Makey’, ‘Scratch x Lego WeDo’ and graphic design for ages between five and 16. They have also introduced a new Explorer pass that grants admission to unlimited workshops.
Prices start at S$350 for beginner’s Scratch programming course.