At the 18 campuses of Stratford School in the San Francisco Bay Area, coding is exploding. The school is answering the call for educational excellence by teaching computer coding fundamentals beginning in preschool. Each day more than 1,900 preschool students and an additional 3,000 kindergarten through 8th grade students are learning coding fundamentals, critical thinking, collaboration and analysis skills, so they can write actual computer code for apps, robotics, and other uses.
To highlight its computer science curriculum, Stratford School is participating in Code.org’s Hour of Code. With more than 1,900 preschool students participating, Stratford boasts the single largest population of preschoolers participating in the Hour of Code event. Stratford School was one of the first preschool and primary school systems in the Bay Area to partner with Code.org on its Hour of Code initiative when it launched three years ago.
“Stratford School is one of the first private schools to take an innovative approach to teaching computer science and digital literacy skills beginning at the preschool level,” says Sherry Adams, Stratford co-founder. “Shortly after our founding in 1999, computer science and coding became foundational for students who range from three years to 15 years of age.”
According to Adams, a pioneering 21st century curriculum and emphasis on STEM/STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) makes Stratford’s approach unique. “Our computer science curriculum builds solid computational thinking skills through collaborative engineering, and visual arts projects. This enables our students to more quickly grasp the fundamentals of coding at an early age. This accelerates digital literacy and prepares them for success in high school, college and ultimately for 21st century jobs. Further, our experience has shown that students who code well also possess highly developed mathematics, language, and reading skills.”
Educators at Stratford, and others across the country, agree that digital literacy is a paramount issue. The debate lies in how to achieve it, and ultimately what skills must be taught now to ensure readiness for the future. A recent article by Bloomberg Business profiles efforts by educators in China to address the issue of teaching computer coding to children as young as three. The Huffington Post, too, has covered this growing topic.
Stratford School’s 18 Bay Area locations participating in the Hour of Code include: San Francisco, San Bruno, Palo Alto, Sunnyvale, Fremont, Santa Clara, San Jose, Los Gatos, Morgan Hill, Danville, and Pleasanton. At these campuses, students will be completing the following types of activities.
Preschool students participate in unplugged activities from Code.org that Stratford has aligned to preschool learning ability. For example; linking "giving directions" to an algorithmic thinking activity. Preschoolers also learn the foundations of coding through use of Dash and Dot exercises.
Elementary students participate in unplugged activities such as Graph Paper Programming, Relay Programming with Scratch and Python, and various online activities provided by Code.org.
“Coding is not new for our students,” says Adams. “They respond to the Hour of Code in the same way kids look forward to a field trip. This special week of learning enables them to share and further their skills. Their excitement is contagious.”