At blue{shift} coding, we know that learning to code for the first time can seem daunting!

That's why we’ve put together a short guide to the important skills we believe children need in order to get the most out of both our online and offline courses. All of these skills are simple - they just require a bit of explanation & practice beforehand!

Core skill #1: Using a mouse

We recommend that our customers use a physical mouse and mouse mat where possible, as we have found that this is the easiest set-up for younger children to use. They can, however, also use a laptop keypad.

Whether it is a keypad or a physical mouse, make sure your child knows the difference between left-clicking and right-clicking.  

Left-clicking allows your child to click and drag things on screen, like blocks in Scratch.

Right-clicking allows your child to highlight text, as well as copy and paste links!

This is important for our classes as it enables your child to share their class work with their teacher by copying and pasting the link to their projects.

Is your child struggling to distinguish between left and right? 

Here's a simple activity! Get your child to put both of their hands flat on the table, palms facing down. Show them how their left hand makes a natural ‘L’ shape, so they will always know their left from right.

Core skill #2: Using an internet browser

Explain to your child that there are different types of internet apps (browsers) that you can use to access the web. 

Whilst these different versions (Google Chrome; Internet Explorer; Firefox; Safari) have different layouts they all allow you to access web pages. When teaching your child about browsers it's best to use one that you are familiar with - it's easier to explain the features when you know them yourself!

The key skills that your child needs to learn for our classes are how to type in a link and how to open multiple tabs. 

In your browser show your child where to type a link. Explain that this link needs to be typed correctly in order to be successful.

Example of a link:

Once you've demonstrated how to reach a website, it's time to show your child how to open multiple tabs.
Tabs may be required if we ask your child to open two websites at the same time, such as a coding website, and homework space.

Example of two tabs (press the + button to open a new tab):

Core skill #3: Touch typing

We find that while most students grasp coding concepts quite well, typing tends to bring the most difficulties. As such, we have put together a list of free resources that your child can use to prepare for their coding lessons. Click here to read this.

Unlike using a mouse and having knowledge of a web browser, typing requires practice and can be quite foreign for children at first. However, don't let this put you off - it doesn't take much to learn, a few minutes a day for a couple of weeks and your child will be a pro!

While basic typing skills (such as being able to type their name) are strongly encouraged for all lessons, typing becomes even more important for more advanced text-based languages like JavaScript and Python where it is an invaluable skill!

Final tip for parents: Troubleshooting and supporting your child

If your child accidentally deletes their code during an online class, you can support them by:

  • Ensuring they save their work every five minutes (File > Save)

  • Staying calm and asking your teacher for help!

  • If a small line of code/code block was accidentally deleted, you can use keyboard shortcuts on your computer to UNDO or REDO work (below)

For Mac users:
Undo an action: Press Command-Z on your keyboard (hit the Command and Z keys simultaneously)
Redo an action: Press Command-Shift-Z (hit the Command, Shift, and Z keys simultaneously)

For Windows users:
Undo an action: Press Control-Z on your keyboard (hit the Control and Z keys simultaneously)
Redo an action: Press Control-Y (hit the Control and Y keys simultaneously)

Thank you for reading our guide. We hope this helps your child feel more prepared for their first coding class, and ready to get coding!

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