How I Spent My Summer Vacation – Launching A Kids’ Coding Academy

Published by Erik Young, Co-Founder

What started as a simple question about the kids’ summer activities . . . lead to the founding of Codelicious, “Can we have the kids try coding this summer, in addition to swimming and tennis?”

Despite an extensive investigation into coding classes (and all my friends know that I love to research), there was nothing available for our then 9- and 11-year-old children. So, my wife (Melissa Beuc) and I explored a few different options:

Option 1 – find a class/camp (none available, nor age or price appropriate).

Option 2 – buy a workbook and self-teach (laughable).

Option 3 – hire a tutor (but whom?).

None of the options worked for a variety of reasons. For example, most coding classes targeted mature students and adults looking to transition into a new career. Plus, the price point was high. My kids are way too squirrelly to sit that long on a hot, summer day. Additionally, most coding experts (possible tutors) excel at using technology to solve company problems, not in creating engaging lesson plans for elementary students.

As parents, we wanted to provide our children with learning opportunities that would open a wide portfolio of options for college and beyond. We strongly believed that learning “languages” provides them with a strong foundation for future success. And coding – in addition to music and a foreign language – was an essential language to learn.

Code is a universal language, a unifying language. For us, learning the basics of coding was more than simply learning Scratch, Java or HTML. It was learning how to problem solve by breaking down an issue into manageable parts. Coding is about listening, interpreting, and expressing your own creativity. Coding is about literacy.

Since we were strongly committed to exposing our children to coding, we launched Codelicous in 2014. We’ve also read research from organizations such as Burning Glass that found that jobs requiring coding skills pay up to $22,000 (on average) per year more. We believed there would be many other like-minded parents in the Indianapolis area who shared the same philosophy. So we started talking with family . . . friends . . . neighbors . . . business associates past, present, near and far. Each conversation, each prototype class validated our vision. And even better, kids loved the classes.

What started as a summer activity for our own kids has blossomed into a coding academy for kids from 8-18 years old (though we have had a 60-year-old student who loved it). We hire talented high school and college students as instructors to give them opportunities to share their love of coding by designing and delivering classes. Kids like to learn from other kids.

It’s been very exciting to see Codelicious take off. We’ve hired some fabulous people, who have helped our model grow and evolve. We started with a classroom model, but have now evolved to provide up-to-date coding curriculum for schools, enrichment programs, and clubs. We recently partnered with the Girl Scouts for a “Computer Expert Badge.” (read the press release)

We didn’t want our children to have a passive relationship with technology . . . only using it for entertainment or information, or waiting for someone else to have the next big idea. We want them to learn intellectual action, to be curious and know it’s OK when they don’t have the right answer. For us, it’s more important that they have the confidence to break-down a problem and figure stuff out than it is to search Google to get the “right” answer.

Encourage your kids to have an active relationship with technology. Teach them code. And I hope you’ll find that our academy – Codelicous – is a great place to start.