Ryerson new media graduate helps kids to learn code


Kids as young as six will get the opportunity to learn code. (Illustration by Dasha Zolota / Ryersonian Staff)

As technology continues to affect our everyday lives, a Ryerson new media graduate is working to make sure that children are prepared by teaching the language of code.

Kathryn Barrett is the youth program lead for Kids Learning Code, a not-for-profit organization that teaches the process of coding through various workshops.

“It’s kind of the same choice as if a parent wanted his or her son or daughter to learn French,” said Barrett.

“It’s just a language to get kids up to speed with the current world they live in.”

Kids Learning Code is a branch of the company Ladies Learning Code.

It’s an initiative created in 2011 because the founders wanted to see more women in the technology industry.

Two years later they expanded to children-specific workshops and camps.

Barrett says group members realized they would have to implement programs for young ages if they wanted to see this happen for women later on in life.

“If kids show a spark of interest at a young age, it makes sense to fuel that interest,” wrote Kristen Heredia, Ryerson’s Digital Media Zone’s media relations officer, in an email.

“The more exposure students have to a broad range of languages (including programming), the more well-rounded they will be.”

Abi Smithson was introduced to the world of code through the Kids Learning Code workshops.

The experience opened up a new way of thinking for her. Now at the age of 10, Abi is a designing a shoe line called The Love Sandal.

She’s received help from Ryerson’s Digital Media Zone and Robert Ott, the chair of Ryerson’s school of fashion.

Abi’s younger sister is entering the coding world too.

On Saturday, six-year-old Holly attended a Kids Learning Code workshop, despite the fact that she can’t fully read yet.

Julie Smithson, Abi and Holly’s mother, said she and Ladies Learning Code wanted “to try and teach a kid code even though they didn’t have the full capacity of reading yet. So, essentially teaching them how to code alongside teaching them how to read it at the same time.”

Barrett says it’s easier to teach children code from a younger age, just like how it’s advantageous for a child to pick up a language when they are younger.

“It’s much easier to start at a younger age for that reason, because the brain is obviously still developing,” said Barrett.

“I think we could teach (coding) as young as four, I think I’m confident to say that.”

Stay tuned for our feature on Abi Smithson and her shoe line, The Love Sandal.

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