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How to Figure Out What Kind of Coder Your Child is and What to Do About It: Experimenters vs. Instruction-Followers

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Students tend to either be experimenters or instruction-followers.

Experimenters jump in immediately, trying out everything. They like to skip over instructions and just play with what’s in front of them, dig around, and see if they can build or break something.

Instruction-followers get a thrill out of following the steps to solve a problem and getting the gold star of achievement after doing so. They like a linear progression and working on increasingly difficult challenges.

There are pros and cons to both approaches, and ultimately both skills are needed in the real world. A professional programmer will at some point need to solve a problem that has never been done before and will have to experiment with different approaches. They will also have to follow guidance from a manager at some point, who wants everyone on the team to follow certain standards.

If your child is an experimenter, a coding platform like Scratch that’s entirely open-ended is a great fit. If your child is an instruction-follower, a coding platform like that’s step-by-step will be more comfortable for them.

That said, we believe all students, especially at this early stage in their learning, should work out of their comfort zone some of the time. In our classes, students use a variety of approaches and platforms to ensure their brains have fun and also push beyond what they think they are capable of.