What Is the Best First Programming Language?

My computer scientist husband says that Python is the best first programming language to learn right now. If you’re looking for a curriculum to teach Python, we have an excellent option. Read our review of CompuScholar’s online Python Programming class. Are you just starting off with learning about programming? Try this fun code your name activity!

My computer scientist husband says that Python is the best first programming language to learn right now. If you're looking for a curriculum to teach Python, we have an excellent option. #programming #python #learnpython #STEMed #homeschoolcurriculum

Is Python Always the Best First Programming Language?

That’s a matter of opinion! I can tell you that Mike knows a lot of programming languages, and while Python is not his favorite (that would be Julia), it is his favorite to have students learn first. Java is used for applications. Python is a higher level language used for data analysis, and it’s good for scripting.

Most significantly for getting kids interested in programming, Python offers a faster start. You need a lot less code before you get results than you would need with Java.

From a future career point of view, Python is used for data science, which is one of the fastest growing job segments, and one that is important to many fields.

CompuScholar Python Course Review

This fall, Timberdoodle asked us to review CompuScholar’s Python course. They offered enrollment to two of my children in exchange for a review. I did not ask for or receive any other compensation.

I decided it try it out with Emma (8th grade) and Johnny (6th grade). They were a little young for it, but with a computer scientist in the house they had plenty of help available. Even I know enough about programming to figure out a beginning Python course. And the course is designed to be hands-off!

Both Emma (13 years old) and Johnny (10 years old) worked on this course. I asked them to write their own reviews for me.

Emma’s Compuscholar Python Course Review

I thought that the Python Programming online class from CompuScholar was very thorough. It had a lot of details about not only how to write code in Python, but also about the history of Python and coding.

This was interesting to learn, and I haven’t seen that from any other programming classes.

However, it did mean that the lessons took a really long time to do, so if you want a class that will just teach you how to code the basics, this isn’t it.

CompuScholar’s Python course was also very full of information, and it was sometimes a lot to take in at once although I did appreciate that it was all useful information.

Overall, I thought that this class was very well made, but I think I would enjoy it more if I was a few years older (I’m in eighth grade right now, and it’s part of the eleventh grade kit).

If you want a really in depth, thorough Python programming class for an older teen (or adult!) this seems like a really good choice.

Learning to program in Python

Johnny’s CompuScholar Python Course Review

What I liked:

Videos were mostly pretty easy to understand

The course had activities to complete. It wasn’t only reading and answering questions.

What I didn’t like: 

The instructions were too specific, and you didn’t have much choice of what to do.

My Thoughts About CompuScholar’s Python Course

First of all, I LOVE the way my kids’ personalities come through in their reviews.

Emma is my humanities girl. She wants to be a writer, and she doesn’t really care about programming beyond expressing vague curiosity about how it works.

She quickly decided the course was harder than she wanted to deal with alone, although she would work on it with Mike. Emma is in 8th grade, so still young for this course.

Johnny is more data oriented, although he also participates in NaNoWriMo and writes a fair bit for fun. In 6th grade, he is very young for the course, but he was also very interested in the topic.

He worked through the course a fair bit on his own, but also often asked Mike and I for help.

Teaching kids Python - the best first programming language to learn right now

As he noted, Johnny found the super structured nature of the auto graded course frustrating. There were several times when he wanted to get really creative with a coding assignment. In a live course led by an instructor, there would probably be room for him to do this. Since CompuScholar’s course is computer graded, you have to stick to their parameters.

Compuscholar Python programming course review

The dog tried to learn programming, but it was beyond her canine abilities.

Should You Take CompuScholar’s Python Course?

Overall, if you’re learning to learn or help someone else learn Python as a first programming language, I think this course is an solid place to start. But if you have the option of a high quality in-person instructor, you’ll enjoy that even more.

I would advise waiting for kids to get a bit older than mine were unless you are prepared to offer hands-on help or they have a strong personal interest in learning to program.

Do you have a favorite programming language? What is it? And what was your first programming language? Please also share your thoughts if you’ve tried out this particular course!

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MaryAnne lives in Silicon Valley with her Stanford professor husband Mike and their four children. She writes about parenting through education, creativity, and play. Mama Smiles - Joyful Parenting is a space to share crafts, hands on learning activities, and family outings that enrich lives and bring families together.

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