Volunteering for Code Club

I joined Code Club in Jan 2015 to head up their engineering team. However, way before this I was already voluneering for Code Club.

Here’s why I started volunteering and what I get out of it…

What is a Code Club?

Code Club is an organisation that helps set up after school coding clubs for kids, aged 9 to 11. The clubs are generally run by a teacher, and a volunteer. Most clubs run after school, but not all of them…mine runs once a week at lunchtime.

At the club we use the Code Club lesson materials, which can be found at https://www.codeclubprojects.org/, and the kids work through these projects each week.

As a volunteer, I’m there to help explain some of the concepts they’re learning, to help them when they get stuck etc. There’s a teacher with me too, who also helps the kids with the lesson but is also in charge of “crowd control”.

The idea is to introduce the kids to coding, but also to other concepts such as computational thinking, problem solving, planning, designing and collaboration.

Why did I start volunteering?

I started volunteering for Code Club back in April 2013. My son brought home a news letter from his school, in which they were asking for someone to help start a Code Club. I jumped at the chance, got myself registered with Code Club, and soon had the club up and running.

Is it hard to volunteer?

It’s 1 hour a week, during term time. The school I volunteer at is just around the corner from my house so it’s not a big deal in terms of time.

The projects that Code Club provide are really well structured. For the first few sessions you’ll probably want to read through the project and the volunteer notes before you turn up (which might mean you spend an hour, one evening, doing the lesson yourself). However, you soon get into the swing of things and that preparation time goes away.

I suspect that most people who work with computers during the day (not just programmers), who have a methodical approach to things (i.e. can read and follow instructions), and who are willing to learn new stuff could successfully volunteer at a Code Club.

What’s the best bit about volunteering?

For 1 hour each week I get to work with a group of programmers who are super keen and really interested in learning to code. It doesn’t matter how crappy my week has been, at the end of that hour I’m buzzing from the enthusiasm and energy that the kids have. They want to learn, and they really appreciate the help I’m giving them.

My advice to anyone considering volunteering for Code Club is do it! I was really nervous before my first club session (“What if the kids don’t like me?”, “What if they know more than I do?”) but after that first session I realised that I had nothing to worry about. Even if it’s just for a term, give it a go and help some kids learn to code.