Coding For the Future
by KC Mendoza, Rocketship Southside Community Prep Enrichment Coordinator
When I tell my friends that I teach computer coding to kindergarteners, they can’t believe it. “How could a five year old understand coding? Why would I spend the time teaching them that?” they ask. It’s simple. Even our littlest Rocketeers understand coding because we’ve found ways to make it fun and accessible. And why are we doing this? Because our kids need to be exposed to all sorts of enrichments – just like their suburban counterparts – in order to find what they are passionate about.
In my class, we rotate through different enrichment units in order to spark the curiosity of each individual Rocketeer and help them discover what they love to learn. This year, we will explore art, coding, Latin and Native American history, Spanish, dance/music, engineering, and gardening. Sometimes it’s hard for my kids to switch units if they’ve fallen in love with one subject, but they always enjoy diving into new projects. Enrichment also allows us to mix up learning styles – with Spanish being more formal teaching while gardening is more hands-on. Coding was probably my favorite unit so far because of the sheer amazement each kid experienced when they got their code-a-pillar (in kinder) to move or their game (third grade – complete with multiple levels!) to work.
These units might seem a little random to you, but they were intentionally chosen based upon my skill set and the interests of our parents and students. 91% of Rocketship Southside Community Prep students are Hispanic or Latino and their parents expressed interest in me teaching both Spanish language and Latin American history. For many of my students, our unit was the first time they formally learned Spanish or got to practice both the spoken and written language. It is amazing to see how excited they are to communicate in a new language or learn new words in a familiar language! Even going through Latin history together, we are all learning something new. Especially when they start asking questions about ancient civilizations and how things were back then!
And the kids love it. They all quiet down immediately when the code-a-pillar comes out, or proudly wave their art projects in the air to show how they look like my example. This truly is my dream job – to get our kids excited about different ways to apply their core learning and learn new skills. I love doing something to give them a break from their normal learning. They learn to problem solve, work together, and discover skills they didn’t know they had! I remember being so passionate about my graphic design classes in high school, it was the only class that I looked forward to and helped me get through the day because I knew my favorite class was coming. I hope that these units can help our kids explore their own passions and future possibilities too.
Published on February 11, 2022