Coding is a skill that’s becoming increasingly important in today’s world. Our culture is becoming more digital than ever before. So one of the best ways to upskill your career toolbox is to learn to code. But where and how do you get started? There are many of us working in the gig economy with a range of virtual and web-based capabilities. However, when it comes to coding, it feels like learning a new language. Well, that’s because it is. It needn’t be impossible though! In this post, I’m going to look at five fantastic resources to get started with coding.
Coding is something I’m actively learning at the moment. It’s not something I envisaged myself getting into, as I’m not a naturally mathematical type of person. I am, however, a linguist. Prior to bouncing into the world of work, I studied three modern foreign languages and gained an MA in applied linguistics.
So, if I treat coding like learning a language, it becomes much less scary! I’m going to hopefully encourage you to give coding a try; if not for yourself, but as something to encourage your kids to start learning. It’s a skill that will set them up for the future!
You might be thinking that you’ll need a fully paid-up course and someone to teach you how to code. Luckily, that’s not the case! The internet is full of fantastic resources that you can use to actually teach yourself coding. Best of all, many of these resources are free. There are, of course, paid resources, but they’re not all as expensive as you might think. Let’s quickly look at why learning to code could be the best career decision you ever make.
Why get started with coding?
Coding is a skill that can really pay off in today’s digital economy. You might be looking to change careers and get into the tech world. Maybe you’re keen to build your own websites, online programs or apps. It could be that you just want a fresh challenge for your brain! Whatever your motivations, coding is a fantastic ability that can really pay off both career and salary-wise.
It’s also something that could set your children up for a stronger career path in future. Make sure you check out some of the information in this post about getting started with coding for kids.
Knowing your motivations for learning to code can help you find your starting point. ‘Coding’ has many different languages under its umbrella. Many of these do specific jobs, so knowing what you want to achieve can help you choose an entry point. A few of the different coding languages are as follows:
- HTML/CSS – a ‘front-end’ coding language that helps create the look and functions of web pages, games and apps that users can see
- Python – a ‘back-end’ (behind the scenes) programming language that can be used to build almost anything
- C++ – a programming language used in building videogames
- C# – another programming language used in building videogames
There are many doors that can open to you once you’ve learned to code. If you’re keen to get into the gaming industry, for example, having knowledge of a coding language like C# will help massively. Or if you want to start working as a web developer, knowledge of coding languages such as HTML, CSS or Python, for example, will be invaluable.
How to get started with coding
There are many different ways to make a start with learning to code. I’m going to list some resources in this post but in reality, there are many tutorials and online boot camps you can join. What’s most important is that you treat your new learning journey as a serious course of study. You can do it, and you may find a whole new set of career paths opening up to you as a result!
I’ll also be listing some resources for you to show your kids if you’d like to get them interested in coding too. You can start helping your child learn basic coding from as young as five or six with some of these platforms!
Let’s start by looking at some of the best places to get started as an adult who’s new to coding. You can click through to any of these sites from the title.
Codeacademy is a great starting point if you’re looking for an entry-level coding course. If you’re unsure where to start, try out the quiz to help you discover which language is best for you to try learning. You can learn for free on the basic plan and then if you decide that you’d like to level up your coding skills, you can upgrade to a paid plan for further support.
I’ve used Codeacademy to help with developing my knowledge of HTML and CSS, which has enabled me to do freelance web design work for clients.
Another place to start your coding journey is Skillshare. You can access a range of taught courses and video tutorials there, many of which are free! At the very least, there’s a free trial period for all new learners, so you can always give yourself an intensive course and then decide about upgrading later. There are a wide variety of coding courses available to access, so you can browse for the ideal starting point from the catalogue.
LinkedIn’s Learning platform offers a variety of coding courses for you to start your programming journey. It has a great set of resources for anyone wanting to learn gaming-based languages like C#or more generalist programming languages like Python. You also get one month free as a new user, so you’ve got nothing to lose by giving it a try!
Oracle has a free learning explorer programme that offers beginner and entry-level courses to help upskill people with its accreditation programmes. It’s Java Explorer learning path is a great starting point to help you learn the basics of the Java programming language. A free 6 hour course that can help you get off the ground with coding straightaway!
Resources for kids to get started with
I introduced my child to basic coding during the lockdown period and she loved it. At six, I wondered if she was perhaps a bit young for it, but the resources that exist online for children are excellent at teaching the basics! Here are some of my top recommendations if you’re thinking about introducting your child to coding as a hobby or project.
I love Tynker. It’s where I started working on coding with my little one, and she really enjoyed it. You can help your children learn with basic visual code blocks, all the way through to helping them develop their own projects. You can access a range of children’s projects for free before choosing whether or not to upgrade to a paid plan. I’d definitely recommend checking their site out as it’s very visual and bound to appeal to children of all ages.
Scratch is a great free coding language resource where kids can begin learning to code from, well, scratch. It’s also a fantastic learning community which encourages children to think creatively, collaborate and create their own interactive stories and programs. It’s designed primarily for those aged 8+, but there are definitely areas of the site that can be accessed by confident younger children too.
For example, Scratch Jr is aimed at children aged 5-7. It’s available as a free app for kids to use on an iPad or tablet and encourages coding through creativity.
A set of coding learning resources that are designed for older children, Busy Things introduces coding concepts through a range of games and activities. There’s a free trial available, so you can test it out with your children first and see if it works for them.
If you’re as ancient as me, you may remember learning the very basics of the LOGO programming language back in school. Well, Turtle Academy is built on that very same language and aims to show children the basic programming principles in a fun and easy way. There are a range of free lessons for kids to get started with. While you may need to support younger children with reading the instructions, they’re bound to have fun creating shapes and paths for the LOGO Turtle!
An offshoot of Raspberry Pi, CoderDojo is a free and open network of coding clubs (dojos) that children aged 7-17 can join and learn skills in. As well as a range of online coding activities for kids to access, there are also opportunities for them to join or create a coding dojo of their own.
How do you feel about coding?
It may seem like a daunting task, but learning to code really is a great skill to have in your arsenal. Career-wise, it can pay off both financially and in terms of opportunities. In addition, by encouraging your children to learn programming at a younger age, you’re equipping them with a strong advantage for later life.
By picking up some coding skills, you can boost your freelance portfolio, offer new services to potential clients and apply for roles you may have once considered off-limits. With a bit of time and effort, you could find that you’ve got a brand new career path ahead of you!
What are your thoughts on getting started with coding? Is it something you’ve tried already? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic, so let me know in the comments. I’m passionate about encouraging more women into tech and gaming, so I’d love to know if you do decide to give coding a try!