Nowadays four- and five-year-olds can learn the foundations of coding and computer commands before they can even write and spell words. Older children can learn how to code through classes, mentors and online tutorials
Do you think your children are too young to learn how to code? Think again.
Coding (also known as programming or developing) is telling a computer, app, telephone or website what you want it to do. Some educators and experts are calling it the “new literacy”, a subject so vital that all kids should learn the basics in order to excel in our rapidly changing world.
Nowadays four- and five-year-olds can learn the foundations of coding and computer commands before they can even write and spell words. Older children can learn how to code through classes, mentors and online tutorials (see below for learn-to-code resources for all ages).
Learning code prepares children for the world we live in today. There are plenty of jobs and occupations where coding is a central part, such as web designers, software developers and robotics engineers. Not to mention manufacturing, nanotechnology or information sciences, where knowing how to code is a huge advantage. However, for most kid-coding advocates, the reasons for coding run much deeper than career prep.
Understanding Code Helps Explain The World
Today, computing is involved in almost all aspects of our lives. From communication and education to social media, banking, information, security and shopping. Computer networks are even capable of controlling our thermostats and lights at home, our cars and our health records.
If grade-schoolers are taught biology and mathematics in order to understand the surrounding world, then knowing the basics of how computers communicate – and how to engage with them – should be a given.
Code Develops Problem Solving And Computational Thinking Skills
The skills that come with coding help children develop new ways of thinking as well as it fosters problem-solving techniques, which can have a huge influence on other areas in life.
Computational thinking allows preschoolers to grasp concepts such as algorithms, recursion and heuristics, although they don’t understand the terms they’ll learn the basic concept (and for parents who don’t understand these concepts, here’s an article that explains the basics of computational thinking by comparing it to following a recipe http://www.motherjones.com/media/2014/06/computer-science-programming-code-diversity-sexism-education
Coding Is Fun!
Beyond the practical reasons for learning how to code, there’s the fact that creating a game or animation can be a lot of fun for kids.
Andrew Stuff, a father of two from Toronto, introduced coding to his kids through “Hour of Code”, a series of one-hour tutorials that teach the basics of coding and computer science. The concept was introduced in 2013, since then more than 119 million people have tested it.
“My wife and I wanted our kids to be introduced to computer coding, with the hope they’d develop their love of making thing, ” he says. “They both love video games and making stuff with cardboard, paper and Lego. So when we heard about the free coding lessons, we thought it would be a great opportunity for the kids to see how games are made and possibly ignite a new kind of maker passion.”
Their nine-year-old daughter Ava began her coding journey with a Frozen learn-to-code game from Hour of Code. Ava says that she liked that it wasn’t too hard to do any of the coding, neither too easy, thus making it just the right challenge. She continues by saying “I’d like to learn how to make my own games, show people how to play my games and help teach other people how to make games too.”
Her seven-year-old brother Jasper agrees. He too started with the Frozen-game, but then tried making his own Flappy Bird game. Jasper liked that he could make the Flappy Bird go up or down and that he was able to design it the way he wanted it to be.
How To Introduce Your Kids To Code
Interested in getting your kids involved with coding? If yes, try searching online for coding camps or courses in your community. You could also try one of the hundreds online tutorials, programs or apps designed as games with cool graphics and simple tutorials to help kids learn to code.
A few suggestions to get you started:
- Robot Turtles A board game that teaches the basics of programming and computational skills. For kids in the ages three and up.
- SCRATCH A free program from MIT that lets your kids program their own interactive stories, games and animations without learning programming text. It fosters youths to think creative, resonate systemically and cooperate, which all are important skills in life.
- Raspberry Pi A credit-card sized computer that can be programmed just like a desktop PC for only about $50. Use it as a learning tool or as a full-service computer for both kids and adults.
- Kodable An app designed for kids as young as five years old. This app makes it easy and fun for kids to code, no programming experience required. It uses games that subtly teach coding with few instructions.
- Tynker This app helps teach programming logic with visual code blocks, works for Android and iOS. For kids that can already read.