Vista school prepares for future with coding program

Vista school prepares for future with coding program
STEM specialist Jenny Anderson, center, works with students on their coding at Casita Center. The Vista school has nearly 600 students who all learn how to code. Photo courtesy of Casita Center

VISTA — Coding. It’s a skill that’s foreign to many but one that children as young as 5 are learning in a Vista school. It’s also a skill that’s in high demand.

In a recent survey on the 25 “best jobs in America” by career website Glassdoor, at least eight jobs required experience in coding. The number of coding jobs is also expected to grow over the next decade, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Casita Center is just one school in the country that’s preparing the next generation of Americans to fill those jobs. Nearly 600 students in grades kindergarten through fifth grade are learning how to code. The magnet school is home to 25 teachers who teach a curriculum that focuses on demanding subjects like science, technology and math.

“Coding fosters 21st century skills of creativity, collaboration, cooperation, and critical thinking,” Laura Smith, the principal of Casita Center, said. “Coding teaches students to think logically.”

Students spend roughly 30 minutes a day learning how to code. They’re also encouraged to further explore the skill outside of school.

Jenny Anderson, a STEM specialist at Casita, said students learn everything from block-based coding to the game-based aspect of coding. They also explore text-based programs such as HTML/CSS or JavaScript.

“Students definitely enjoy the various types of coding,” said Anderson, who has been teaching for nine years. “They enjoy learning about how the computer works and how animations are created.”

In the years that Anderson has been teaching coding, she has seen students create their own website pages and digital stories from knowing the skills.

“The most exciting part of seeing the kids code is being able to watch them grow as programmers, critical thinkers, and being open-minded to trying something new,” Anderson said.

The excitement of coding is apparent for 5-year-old Miles. His mother, Nicole Gray, who lives in Carlsbad, said he’s enthusiastic about what he’s learning at the school.

“Our son has always thought and been interested in different things, specifically technology and engineering,” Gray said. “My son is so excited to come home and tell us he was coding or building circuits and working with batteries at school. His enthusiasm thus far creates a hope in us as parents that he will continue a love for learning and the importance of his education.”

It’s different from what Gray learned as a child but it caters to future job trends, Gray said.

“It’s not the curriculum that I was learning as a kindergartener, but it is applicable to life and where these students are headed in the future,” Gray said. “We believe Casita is a great fit for him and the way his brain works and he thinks.”

But don’t think coding is only for students who express interest in technology. Anderson said it’s important for students to be exposed to the world of computer science.

“Coding is for everyone,” Anderson said. “Even if students are not planning to pursue this field, gaining problem solving strategies through this type of curriculum helps foster creativity and critical thinking abilities. So all in all, win win for everyone.”

More importantly, the subject has engaged students. Gray hopes that engagement will give Miles a sense of appreciation for his schooling.

 

“We hope his love of learning that is so vibrant as a five and a half year old can resonate with him throughout his educational career,” Gray said. “That he will understand the value of education and the impact it will have on his life and future. That he will continue onto college and be self motivated to succeed in his education.”

For more information about the Casita Center, go to vistausd.org/casita.

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