Parent Perspectives: Why I Send My Son To Weekly Coding Classes

The Parents of Saturday Kids

In the last few years, our team here at Saturday Kids has been inspired by many students who have joined our coding classes, each exemplifying what we at Saturday Kids stand for – being Curious, Inventive, and Resourceful. But we’ve also been equally motivated by the parents who’ve placed their trust in us and sent their kids to our classes. In this series of conversations with the parents of our students, we look at why they decided to send their kids for coding classes and their perspectives on coding in general. 


Today we hear from Pamela Loh, mother to Ethan Loh (10 years old), on why she chose weekly coding classes for her son. Ethan is currently enrolled in our weekly Game On! Scratch Masters class and can’t get enough of it! He loves reading and building his own platformer games using Scratch.

Pamela_Parents of Saturday Kids

Is he going to be the next coding prodigy or something? I don’t know and I don’t care. It doesn’t matter, he doesn’t have to be. He just needs to enjoy what he’s doing. It doesn’t have to be the only thing he does in life either. I think it’s a skill, like any other skill you need in life. My concern is more with putting my kids in an environment and telling them that it’s okay to go out and try new things.

Sometimes a lot of parents have this fear that “it’s new” and “it’s scary” and it is our fear that holds them back. Letting go and embracing new things is always hard but we need to challenge ourselves. Because if we can’t do that, we can’t model it to our kids either.


Saturday Kids: Let’s just start with: Why Saturday Kids?

Pamela: I was looking for a place near us, with classes that fit our schedule. We started with the holiday camp  in December last year because that was more like a taster. We had no idea what coding was about – my son’s a computer buff, he loves iPad games and plays it all the time. So I  asked, “Since you’re playing on it all the time, would you like to learn how the games are built?”. He was keen and I asked, “Do you want to go for holiday classes?” It started this way – it’s the only class he’s never objected to!

He enjoyed it SO much, he kept asking if he could continue the class. I thought okay, but the next holiday is in March… that’s when we found out that Saturday Kids also conducts regular weekly classes during the term time (after school). Since he enjoyed his holiday camps so much – tremendously really – we figured it is a good idea to let him come weekly, because it’s a little pep each week.

He CANNOT miss it – just last week we were literally holding him down because he was sick and he was so miserable. It’s the only class he attends where I have to drag him out of class. He can’t wait to come- even just now he was gobbling his food so he can come half an hour earlier! I think he’s found something he really enjoys and I also want to build it in as part of his weekly routine because while there are other aspects of school that demoralise him, like having to go to Chinese class, at least there’s something for him to look forward to every Saturday.

SK: Wow, that’s great to hear! But did you have any reservations about sending him for weekly classes?

P: Not really – my concern was more that he’s already on iPad games, is this going to add more screen time to his day? But on the other hand I felt that the method of completely curtailing what he likes to do wasn’t going to work – he’s still going to find ways of doing it. That’s not really the point. The point is to exercise responsible use of the computer, not to say they can’t use it or play games altogether. That’s ridiculous – in this day and age they need to have these skills. We’re not neanderthals (laughs).

SK: So does he practice everything he learns in class when he gets back home?

P: He can’t wait to do homework! Last week he was sick but he was saying “I forgot last week’s homework!” In no other class is he clamouring to do homework! (laughs) I’ve never seen anything like this!.

I think it’s because it’s out of school and it’s a highlight or a novelty. But i think it’s also because it taps into something he instinctively already knows. When my daughter did coding lessons in school – her school had contracted some external vendors – she hated it. She found it so boring, it just wasn’t her thing. In fact I asked both of them, “Would you both like to come for the holiday class?” My daughter flat out refused because of her experience in school but Ethan had no preconceived notions, he said, “Okay I’ll try.”.

I do see a growth spurt in terms of his ability to reason; I think there’s an incredible amount of hidden discipline and challenge needed to build games and explain them to people. There’s a learning curve he’s going through but he doesn’t realise it because he’s having so much fun!

weekly coding classes
Pamela with her family

SK: We believe that when you learn to code, you also learn many valuable skills along the way. Such as problem solving, designing projects, communicating ideas. Have you noticed any changes in the way he approaches questions or challenges? In daily life, in school, or just in general?

P: I think it’s definitely helped build confidence because he’s found something he’s good at, that he thrives in. He always thought “My sister’s good in everything”, and I always tell him, “You have your strengths and you’ll find your niche too. You can both be good in different things.” So finding that something has definitely given him additional confidence and definitely improved his logical thinking skills as well.

I do see a growth spurt in terms of his ability to reason; I think there’s an incredible amount of hidden discipline and challenge needed to build games and explain them to people. There’s a learning curve he’s going through but he doesn’t realise it because he’s having so much fun! And there are mental challenges he’s going through as well but willingly. That’s what surprises me – that he’s going through all of this so willingly. Otherwise everything else is a struggle.

SK: So as a parent it’s quite visible, this change?

P: Oh yeah, it’s quite evident. Different kids take to different things whether it’s gymnastics or badminton or whatever but if this is your kid’s thing then he will do it willingly and excitedly. And I’m happy because it was a while before we could identify what was Ethan’s thing. I think I wanted to come for classes a year or two earlier even but we never found a good time. But suddenly I thought, “He’s already 9, I better start him on something.”. And it was actually quite timely because he’s older now and he’s better able to make a choice for himself. He’s able to say “I want to come for this class.”.  So this is him telling me, “I want to continue and I want to keep coming for weekly lessons.”.

I want to be able to give my children the tools to enable them to live in their own generation because they will not be living in my world. I need to empower him to live in his world when the time comes.

SK: As a parent, do you think learning to code is especially important? Is this something you feel strongly about or did you start coding classes because it was something Ethan was interested in?

P: I think it was definitely something he was interested in but it’s also an important skill in this generation. I’m noticing that if you don’t keep up with the times you end up being very irrelevant. I can’t code but I’m noticing that a lot of things are going digital or electronic – even something as simple as grocery shopping. About 50-80% of the time I’m doing it online. You can’t turn back the clock and I think it’s good to embrace change and help your kids embrace it as well.

I want to be able to give my children the tools to enable them to live in their own generation because they will not be living in my world. I need to empower him to live in his world when the time comes.

Parent Perspectives: Why I Sent my Son to Weekly Coding Classes
Ethan (in blue) at our Build Your Own Robo-Pet workshop

SK: Do you have any advice for parents of kids who are looking beyond enrolling their kids in the usual after-school classes?

P: Let them try different things and they will find their way…My daughter, she tried ballet and hated it – she thought it was boring. But gymnastics is her thing, she loves it and will never miss a class. Same thing with Ethan, rugby and all that, it’s not his thing. But when he found this coding class, it gave him a sense of purpose. It gave him weekly goals to look forward to and master. In fact he does more than just the homework – if his teacher asks him to do one piece of work, he does five instead.

Is he going to be the next coding prodigy or something? I don’t know and I don’t care. It doesn’t matter, he doesn’t have to be. He just needs to enjoy what he’s doing. It doesn’t have to be the only thing he does in life either. I mean he’s not going to be the only coder in the whole world as well, there are many other people who are out doing this. I think it’s a skill, like any other skill you need in life. My concern is more with putting my kids in an environment and telling them that it’s okay to go out and try new things. They should build their confidence, but also so that it rids you of the fear of the new.

Sometimes a lot of parents have this fear that “it’s new” and “it’s scary” and it is our fear that holds them back but it’s the worst thing to do and we shouldn’t hold them back because of our own fears. We need to address it and realise that it’s our fear not theirs. Letting go and embracing new things is always hard but we need to challenge ourselves. Because if we can’t do that, we can’t model it to our kids either.

 

At the end of the day what matters is your child and I think that’s what underpins all these decisions that we make.

 

SK: Very very wise words, I must say. I’ve loved talking to you today! Have you signed Ethan up for more classes?

P: I’ll continue doing it as long as he shows interest. My husband and I don’t believe in just doing things you’re passionate about – we tell him, “ We’re sorry but there are certain things in life that you will have to do because you have to and there are things in life that will not be so pleasurable but we will balance it with other things that are.” and that makes up for it. There needs to be that outlet, for their own mental health. At the end of the day what matters is your child and I think that’s what underpins all these decisions that we make.  


Pamela was one of the first parents to sign up for the Saturday Kids Term 1 weekly coding classes, launched in Jan 2018. We are inspired by her words and encouraged by the impact of our coding classes on Ethan, and we look forward to seeing how his learning journey progresses.

Term 2 of our weekly coding classes commences week of March 19. Join us and let your child embark on their own coding adventure. Register by March 18 to secure a spot. For the full schedule, visit http://www.saturdaykids.com/schedule/ or drop us an email at [email protected].

If you have a story to share with us about how your or your kid’s experience was, we’ll be happy to hear from you! Please get in touch at [email protected]

 

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