Coding for Kids – Why, When and How to Get Started
Coding is a buzzword in this world dominated by computers, smartphones and digitization. Your children might even know more about it than you do, as writing ‘code’ now is as popular as playing video games. Coding is not only essential for your children to stay ahead of the curve but also develops valuable mathematical and logical skills that are essential to be in the workforce. Continue reading for all you need to learn about coding and why every child should learn to code.
What Is Coding for Kids?
All computers work on a set of instructions called programs which control every aspect of its functioning; the same applies to mobile phones and digital machines. Computer programs are written as step-by-step instructions in a process called coding. Coding for kids is a highly simplified version of that process that kids can use to write simple programs that can do things like control a tiny robot or make their own game in a computer. Although it seems daunting for children to learn such a complicated process, a number of platforms offer coding lessons based on age groups that will help build the skill in kids.
Why Should Kids Learn to Code?
There are numerous benefits of coding for kids, here are a few:
- Coding builds logical and problem-solving skills: Understanding and learning to work with computers require plenty of logical thinking. Applied logical thought is the way to solve complex problems at the technological level and also at the personal level. Coding involves working around problems and using mathematical logic to set up sequences and even loops of functions in the program. Therefore coding teaches these logical and creative ways of approaching problems and finding solutions.
- It is challenging and builds resilience: Everybody who is into coding will tell you that failures at the execution of programs and bugs are a common feature. When children encounter the same problems they learn to sit tight and work on it until it is resolved and even bounce back after a failure. This builds an attitude of resilience and grit which has positive benefits everywhere else in life. The challenge that comes with it also builds their confidence.
- Coding teaches kids how to think: Coding involves a lot more than wiring lines of code or setting up visual blocks in order. It also involves how best a given tool can be used to solve a problem and how to use existing tools differently to reach the end. Effective programmers are able to think logically and break down complex problems in bits to tackle it effectively. This is one of the foundational principles of computational thinking called decomposition.
- Computer programming is an essential skill for the future: Computers are everywhere from our homes to coffee machines, therefore learning how to program these things will become an extremely useful skill for anyone. Every sector is transitioning to a digital-based working model which opens up a great demand for people who can code. Children who master this will have plenty of job opportunities not on in tech but every other sector.
- There is a tremendous need for skilled programmers in the software industry: Experienced computer programmers are in high demand and will always be in demand as the skill sets required are ever-expanding. Learning coding at a young age prepares children to take on advanced programming tasks and methodologies that will meet the demands of the future. It is an excellent career path and highly qualified programmers will always be paid high.
- Coding improves math and creative thinking: Logic is at the very essence of coding and mathematics. Learning to code builds that ability to think logically and makes children good at mathematics. Coding also helps in analyzing data and finding creative ways to categorize and use them to come up with products or solve problems. The process involved in coding ultimately makes math easy and fun for all children.
- Coding building collaboration: When working on complex problems, the code is often divided among teams who have to work side by side to make it work. This means children will communicate and solve problems with their peers and learn essential social skills needed by the future workforce. Kids will also learn how to communicate in the most effective manner and exchange ideas with full clarity.
- Coding helps ideas become reality: A number of games, including Minecraft allow players to customize their characters to play the game. Children have an opportunity to use their creative skills to find their own solutions in the game and expand beyond the limits. Personal projects they take up such as the construction of simple robots or building apps are a highly rewarding experience which builds skills and brings their ideas to reality.
When Can Kids Begin to Write Code?
There is really no appropriate age for kids to learn coding and since the process can be gamified, kids as young as 5 years can learn how to do it on visual block interfaces where all they need to do is pick and place blocks of existing code into a sequence to give an output. All coding languages for kids come with a recommended age limit for the difficulty level. The free language Scratch, for example, is suitable for 8-16-year-olds where all they need to do is drag and drop program boxes to built apps. A fairly advanced language like Python which is suitable for children over 10 years can be used for making video games and building web frameworks.
How to Introduce Your Child to Coding
Half the work of introducing your child to coding is in getting them interested. Here are a few ways to get started:
1. Kids Code Jeunesse
Teaches free coding classes for school children and offers free resources for parents. It’s a great option for schools.
2. National Girls Learning Code Day
It’s an all-girls learning platform where they learn to build their own websites using HTML and CSS for free.
3. Robot Turtles
This one is a crowdfunded game for children over fours of age. It teaches simple logical thinking and basic coding skills.
This is a widely popular program from MIT that allows users to create animations and games with simple drag and drop visual programming.
5. Raspberry Pi
The Raspberry Pi is a tiny computer which can be programmed like the desktop PC. It is an excellent project tool for all.
6. LEGO WeDo
This one is a combination of building blocks and programmable components with motors and sensors. It can be used to build robots and working models.
Kodable is an iPad app that helps young kids learn how to code before they can even read or write.
Tynker is a highly popular app for children of all ages. It is designed to teach programming logic using visual code blocks.
Best Programming Languages for Kids
Here are some of the best programming languages useful to teach coding for children:
- Scratch 3.0 by MIT is the best for all beginners with its simple visual block options.
- Lula and Scala are two coding languages that are a favourite among kids who love to program robots.
- Python is a language that is steadily grown in popularity because of the ease with which it can be learnt. Most online platforms and apps are built with Python.
From Where Can a Child Learn Coding?
Learning is a highly personalized affair and your child would want his own way to go about it. The good news is there are a number of ways to learn coding suitable for him. Here are some:
If your child’s curriculum offers any coding classes you could get them enrolled in it. It is a great way to get them involved in the STEM fields at a younger age.
2. Tutoring Centers
Tutoring centres offer highly focused learning on the subject matter. It is a great after-school option.
3. Summer Camps
Summer camps offered by coaching institutes are a good way to get your high schooler into a crash course on coding.
4. Tutoring Services
A personal tutor who can assist with learning complex coding languages is not only a good option for starters but gives an edge in competitions.
5. Learning From ‘Scratch’
Scratch from MIT is a free coding platform that is perfect for anyone looking to get started. Although there is no courseware there’s a huge supporting community.
6. Game-Based Learning
Coding is fun when it’s game-based. Platforms such as Code.org and Tynker offer challenging and motivating games that kids complete using coding.
To sum it up, coding is going to be an essential skill for future generations, especially for students in the STEM fields. Although it seems daunting on the outside, when learnt sequentially, coding is an easy task for all children.