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There’s no shortage of emphasis on the importance of technology and coding skills as a path to employment in a digital economy. However, South African startup Mindjoy not only aims to teach kids to code, but to provide individualised learning and online classes that make learning fun.
The Cape Town-based startup was founded by Gabi Immelman in July 2021. Aimed at children from ages eight years and older, kids take part in live, virtual coding classes.
Classes have no more than six children, and include vetted and trained coaches. Through learning with peers, kids are able to take part in a more motivating, engaging environment. That said, with groups limited in size, participants don’t get left behind and coaches are able to notice if children have any particular difficulties.
While based in Cape Town, MindJoy operates across Africa and Europe. The platform and classes are also open to kids from other countries.
The company notes that children from the UK, Hungary, the Netherlands, Sweden, Spain, Nigeria, and Namibia have joined sessions, in addition to its South African learners.
Learners work on projects on Replit, which provides an instant IDE (integrated development environment) that allows users to code in their browsers. This means they don’t have to download any specialised coding software.
Mindjoy makes projects available to learners through the platform, which they then join. Coaches can contribute to and see the work kids are doing on Replit to help them during the class.
How the online classes help children learn
Rather than just grouping kids randomly, Mindjoy notes that learners are matched with the peer group they’re most likely to benefit from. This includes considerations such as learning pace, existing friendships (such as learners who want to invite friends to join MindJoy classes), and how children get along.
“Being forced into boring educational environments means kids build up resistance to learning. Our approach is to let the kids lead and invite their friends to learn alongside them,” Immelman said in a statement.
“We believe that every child should have the opportunity to experience learning that is joyful, curious, and inspiring.”
During a media Q&A, the company also noted that personalised learning makes the environment more friendly for neurodiverse children (such as children with ADHD or autism) and introverted or shy children.
“Brain breaks” during sessions help kids connect with each other, while also giving them an opportunity to rest their minds a bit. Kids also have an environment of positive reinforcement and motivation due to learning with peers and a focus on encouragement, celebrating progress, and playful learning.
The playful learning, frequent breaks, and low-pressure environment are referred to as the “Mindjoy magic”. When onboarding new children, coaches emphasise the importance of kindness to other peers.
Children are also encouraged to celebrate each other’s wins.
How to sign up for Mindjoy coding classes
The platform uses a subscription model, priced at R1000 per month per child. Sibling discounts are also available according to the Mindjoy website.
The subscription is billed monthly, allowing parents to cancel if their child does not enjoy the classes. You can also try a week-long trial before subscribing.
Subscribers can also opt for bundle two-month and three-month purchases, which include discounts.
A monthly subscription includes access to four scheduled sessions (one per week), and unlimited access to open sessions, Mindjoy events, and the platform.
Mindjoy also partners with corporates who purchase memberships for kids from underprivileged backgrounds.
You can find out more about the company and classes on the Mindjoy website.
Feature image: August de Richelieu/Pexels