Welcome – Frequently Asked Questions
Questions about Spark4Kids
At Spark4Kids, we run both in-person and online sessions for virtually all of our courses. There is no difference between attending in-person or attending online – the course materials are the same and the same tutors support the children in-person as well as online.
Although attendees on our sessions sit in groups with their peers, each child works through their computer coding and touch-typing challenges individually. This means children are able to fully understand and complete each task without feeling rushed, before moving on to their next challenge. All our sessions have LIVE! tutors on-hand to support both in-person and online attendees, and tutors are fully DBS-checked.
We maintain a tutor-to-child ratio of 1:6.
When do courses run?
Spark4Kids runs both term-time and holiday workshops.
Our term-time sessions mirror the school term (so that families are able to get away on holiday without worrying about missing sessions), and our holiday workshops take place when schools are out.
Some courses (such as those requiring hardware kits such as Robotics or micro-controllers) run exclusively during holiday workshops, whilst others are only available during the school term. A few courses are available during both the school term, and the holiday workshops.
Kindly note that make-up sessions are only available for term-time courses.
During the school term, if a child happens to miss a session, Spark4Kids offers parents the option to pick an alternative time to “make up” the missed session. “Make-up” sessions:
- are subject to available spaces
- can be a double-session starting (or ending) with your child’s normal weekly session, or;
- can be a double-session at a time of your choosing, subject to availability.
- are limited to one “make-up” session per child per term.
- can only be used with the term that the session was missed.
If your child misses a class and you would like to book a “make up” session, please get in touch by email (see below for contact information) and we will respond with possible dates/times (subject to availability).
Questions about Computer Coding
What is computer coding?
Computer coding is the process of creating a precise set of instructions for a computer to execute, in order to complete a well defined task. A concrete example of computer coding, would be the set of instructions to calculate the average age of a group of people.
(Note that computer coding courses aren’t the only courses that Spark4Kids runs – we also run Touch-Typing classes for kids who want to improve their speed and efficiency at the keyboard.)
What is a coding language?
A computer language is a well defined subset of (usually English) commands, that can be used to issue instructions to a computer.
It is important to note that the use of the word “language” in describing how humans issue commands to a computer is only a loose approximation.
In reality, computers do not understand language but rather work internally using numeric codes. To make it easier for humans to provide instructions to computers, “higher level” computer languages were invented which look like human language, making it easier for humans to issue commands to the computer. These “higher level” languages have to be translated into numeric encodings which the computers are then able to execute.
What is Scratch?
Scratch is both a programming language and environment created to help children between the ages of 8 to 16, learn computer coding. It is probably the most popular computer coding platform for children, and was designed by researchers from Massachusetts’s Institute of Technology (MIT). You can find out more about Scratch by visiting their website.
What is Python?
Python is a general purpose computer coding language invented by Guido van Rossum in the late 1980’s, and is consistently ranked as one of, if not the most popular programming language in the world. Python’s syntax is sometimes described as clean and logical, and with it’s wide and varied standard library (for everything from machine learning to games design), as well as support for multiple programming paradigm’s (including procedural, functional and object-oriented), Python is an ideal language for learning computer coding. You can find out more by visit the Python organisation’s website.
What is C# / Unity3D?
The Unity3D games engine is one of the most popular 3D games engines around. If you’ve ever played a computer game on a phone, tablet, games console, desktop computer or on the web, chances are that it was built with Unity3D. The Unity3D platform supports multiple programming languages, however the most popular language used on the platform is the C# language. You can find out more about C# the language and about the Unity3D platform from here and here respectively.
Questions about Touch-Typing
How long will it take for my child to learn to touch-type?
As with most things, this rather depends on how much time your child is able to put into typing practice. The quickest we have seen a child (10 years old) learn to touch-type was 9 weeks –
What are the benefits of learning how to type quickly and accurately?
- Save time – If you can type faster while remaining accurate, you’ll save a lot of time. You will spend less time checking for and correcting mistakes in your work, saving you more time.
- Reduce fatigue – Typing for long periods of time and having to correct errors or constantly bend your head over the keyboard to find which keys to press can be exhausting.
- If you can improve your typing, it’ll reduce both mental and physical fatigue.
- Improve your posture and prevent injuries – Being able to type correctly is good for your posture as you’re not sitting down for a long time while hunched over and looking down at the keyboard or fixing mistakes. You’ll be able to find time to stand up and stretch. What’s more, using all your fingers reduces the risk for repetitive stress injuries (RSI), like hand and wrist pain.
- Improve your focus – With your new found skills, you can just focus on the work you’re doing on the computer instead of trying to find the keys on the keyboard at the same time.
- Increase productivity – The time you spend typing will be halved and you’ll make fewer to no mistakes. What’s more, if you double the speed you type, you can get twice as much done in the same amount of time.
Is the Typing 4 Kids course taught online or in-person?
In this increasingly digital era that we find ourselves in, the Typing 4 Kids course is predominantly taught online. The sessions are highly interactive and so children are encouraged to keep their cameras on during sessions so that tutors are able to provide the guidance and motivation needed to acquire and retain the skills needed for touch-typing.
Are students taught as a class or can they progress at their own pace?
Students progress at their own pace and are required to complete lessons in order, unlocking new lessons as they go. The combination of experienced, enthusiastic tutors and the compelling, fun, reward-based platform that is used, propels students through the practice that is required if they are to develop into successful touch-typist.
How do students stay accountable?
Students are encouraged to complete a minimum amount of practice each week. On screen indicators help students stay on track and keep up with their practice. Note that practice time is logged only when keys are being actively pressed, so staying idle on the screen won’t count towards practice time.
What are the system requirements for the Typing 4 Kids course?
The platform we use is 100% online so there is no software download required. To access your courses, all you need is a reliable internet connection and an up-to-date version of any modern browser. Google Chrome is preferred.
Can students use an iPad app?
Yes, there is an iPad app available for students to use with a keyboard. You can find it in your App Store under EdClub. The app currently supports OS 8.3+ on iPad 3rd generation and above as well as iPad mini 2nd generation and above.
Does the Typing 4 Kids course use an accessible platform?
Yes – the platform that we use is fully accessible and can be customized to aid those who are blind, low vision, dyslexic, right handed, left handed, and hard of hearing. For more information, please refer to the Accessibility Features Handbook. We are currently working on developing accessible features for Vocabulary & Spelling.
What is WPM?
WPM stands for ‘Words Per Minute’ and is a standard unit of measurement used to calculate exactly how fast you type.
In simple terms, this is calculated by counting the number of characters typed, dividing them by 5, and dividing that result by the time it took to type the characters.
All of our tutors are DBS-checked, and our website as well as virtual LIVE! classrooms have high levels of security built-in, using standard security protocols to secure yours and our data.
All sessions are also monitored continuously, and our tutors will not tolerate bullying, bad language or inappropriate questions, conversations or content.
Follow this link to access our Safeguarding Policy.
Staying in Touch
To stay up-to-date with what’s happening with Spark4Kids, please:
- follow us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/spark4kids
- like our page on Facebook at www.facebook.com/spark4kids
Still have questions?
If you happen to have a question that hasn’t been answered above, do get in touch – you can email us at [email protected], or ask via Twitter or Facebook. Of course, you are also welcome to call us for a chat on 020 8090 1444.