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Wednesday, 20 September 2017 12:29 am

Five-year-olds learn to code at Waterloo Primary School

Aug 25th, 2017 | By | Category: Editor's Picks, Front Page Layout, Latest News, News

Five-year-olds are learning coding at Waterloo Primary School in Lower Hutt.

Each Tuesday Coding Club meets and five to 11-year-old students learn about the languages and logic driving their devices.

Principal Warren Owen (above) says coding is the language of the 21st century.

“Coding’s going to be big in schools. It’s growing all the time. We’re going to need to integrate this more and more into schools,” Mr Owen says.

The class is free-form, allowing each student to focus on what they’re passionate about and caters from the Bee-Bot beginners, to HTML whizzes. Kids also use Scratch and they programme 3D printers.

Waterloo students Benjaman (front) and Zander use a Bee-Bot to learn coding basics.

Technology is also being used at Waterloo to communicate with the parents and wider community.

Each classroom has a dedicated parent email and See-saw, a parent-student platform, lets students post their work for whanau to see.

Deputy principal Jen Roberts, has been rapt with the interest.

“More often than not the number of parents viewing outstrips the number of posts,” Ms Roberts says.

Communicating with families is important to the principal.

“The biggest influence on children is obviously their family. And apart from that schools are probably the next. In terms of time spent with children,” Mr Owen said.

“And it’s great for the child to have an audience beyond the classroom. That’s powerful.”

However parent evenings have raised concern at the amount of screen time their children get and certain children respond better to IT than others.

“I guess it’s regulated around common sense.”

For example, when screens are being used the children have 15-minute brain breaks.

Mr Owen has been at Waterloo school for a year and a half. The first thing he noticed was its warm vibe and the strength of interpersonal relationships.

“At the end of the day children when they come to school they need to feel welcome and have a real connection with the teachers.”

This year the Education Review Office is highlighting across the country the need to raise Maori and Pasifika achievement rates and Waterloo’s approach is to ask its community for help.

“The main thing we’re doing at the moment is making sure we’re engaging with the whanau, with the families and trying to draw from them.

“As I said before, if families and school are working closely together that’d be really powerful.”

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