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I literally spent all day answering parents questions just like this at the Seattle Robothon event www.robothon.org . With a stated interest in coding and electronics I would probably suggest the Parallax Boe-Bot approx $159, there is some mechanical assembly (screwdriver/pliers) but it has good coverage of electronics without soldering. Great step by step directions are available. A few other great starter robots: Pololu 3Pi ($110) for a focus on embedded C Programming, no electronics or mechanical skills required. For the home school types I suggest the Vex IQ - Superkit ($350) or Vex EDR Clawbot ($530), these kits include Classroom style documentation with Teachers guides. As you noted there are lots of options and these are just opinions, although these picks were easily agreed on by the key members of our committee, most of which had hands on building experience with these robots (including Lego Mindstorms $350).

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