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Mentoring Tips

Mentoring kids in coding is a rewarding experience that requires a thoughtful approach. Here are some key pieces of advice to help volunteers be effective mentors:

Things to Do

  1. Tell the Kids if you are New: If you are a new mentor, feel free to tell your student. Tell them that you write code every day but you have never taught a subject or taught a subject to a 10-year-old student. Ask them if they would help you become a good mentor. Never feel you have to get the code perfect. Reval in hard bugs and focus on teaching debugging skills. Ask them of they have a theory about where the bug might be.

  2. Understand their Goals: Ask them if they have any specific learning goals for your session. Ask them if they have been to a CoderDojo session in the past and what they liked - or didn't like. Get them to describe their ideas and then help them achieve them.

  3. Understand their background: Ask them if they have used the language before. What did they learn? What did they like?

  4. Start Slow and Listen: Ask them about their feelings about how fast they learn. Tell them that programming can sometimes get frustrating and it is OK to talk about these feelings. Patience is key. Understand that learning to code can be challenging, and children may become frustrated or disinterested at times. Show empathy and support to help them overcome these hurdles. Ensure a strong foundation by starting with basic concepts. Use age-appropriate and engaging materials to teach fundamental principles before moving on to more complex topics.

  5. Understand Each Child's Learning Style: Every child learns differently. Some may grasp concepts quickly, while others need more time and repetition. Be patient and attentive to their individual learning styles and needs. Some kids like to work alone and some like to work in groups and see what other kids are doing.

  6. Foster a Safe and Encouraging Environment: Create an atmosphere where kids feel safe to ask questions, make mistakes, and express themselves. Encouragement goes a long way in boosting their confidence and interest in coding.

  7. Make Learning Fun and Interactive: Coding can be made exciting through the use of LEDs, colors, motors and movement. Use interactive projects that have fast feedback. Used RGB LEDs, LED strips, Trinket Turtle-Graphis and MicroSims. and hands-on activities. This approach helps maintain their interest and makes the learning process enjoyable. Focus on strategies that reduce feedback cycles. Try to avoid long-compiled/upload times such as Arduino systems.

  8. Encourage Creativity and Experimentation: Allow children to experiment and be creative with their coding projects. This not only enhances their problem-solving skills but also fosters a sense of ownership and pride in their work.

  9. Use Real-World Examples: Relate coding concepts to real-world applications. This helps children understand the practical use of what they are learning and can spark their interest in how technology impacts the world around them. For example, ask them if they want to make a colorful costume with LED strips.

  10. Encourage Teamwork and Collaboration: Promote collaborative projects where kids can work in teams. This teaches them the importance of teamwork and communication in coding and software development. Studies show that kids learn the most when they build things together. Project-based learning often shows the best results.

  11. Set Achievable Goals: Help children set realistic goals for their coding projects. Achievable milestones can motivate them and give a sense of accomplishment.

  12. Provide Resources for Further Learning: Share resources like websites, online courses, and books that can help children explore coding outside of your sessions. Ask them if they plan to return and give them a challenging problem to think about at the end of a session.

  13. Give Constructive Feedback: Provide feedback that is constructive and focuses on ways to improve. Highlight their strengths and areas for improvement in a positive manner.

Remember, the goal is not only to teach coding but to inspire a lasting interest in technology and problem-solving. Your enthusiasm and commitment as a mentor can make a significant difference in their learning journey.

Things to Avoid

  1. Try not to be judgemental about any idea. Help them discover the pros and cons of different approaches to coding.

  2. Try not to take the keyboard away from the students.