Teaching your young kids to code isn’t just a fun activity that’ll make you feel like you’re keeping up with the times. It’s also a tool that can help develop their critical thinking and problem-solving skills.
As a parent, you’re probably constantly looking for fun ways to keep your kids engaged. And you might’ve noticed how often people praise coding as something every kid should learn.
However, teaching your young kids to code isn’t just a fun activity that’ll make you feel like you’re keeping up with the times. It’s also a tool that can help develop their critical thinking and problem-solving skills. As they get older, it’ll also be an increasingly important part of their ability to thrive in today’s world.
Encouraging your kids to learn coding at an early age is one of the most effective ways to gain skills for both school and life. Here’s why:
Myth #1: You need to teach coding as soon as your kid is old enough to type on a keyboard.
Teaching kids to code does not require fancy computers, special software, or exotic devices. As long as you have a computer and running water, it’s easy for children to learn how to code. You don’t even have to be a programmer or have any fundamental technical skills learning how to code is an easily approachable activity that anyone can do. It would be best if you had a child who wants to learn how coding works and direct access materials like Google Docs and Microsoft Office Online.
What kind of learning experience will your child get? If they want it badly enough, they’ll learn the basics by themselves in under an hour; if they’re interested in playing around with some basic programming ideas, they’ll keep their eyes on the screen while their fingers fly over the keyboard; if they won’t help but are still managing fine without it, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t teach them yourself.
There may indeed be more essential parts of learning about coding for kids other than teaching them about tools and concepts like loops, variables, and conditionals, yet learning these tools is also fun and rewarding because coding is a creative field where anything goes.
Teaching coding before your child knows how to read will likely be more frustrating than productive.
If your child is keen on learning to code, it’s a good idea to ensure that she has learned how to read; otherwise, she may have difficulty understanding and following the instructions. Fortunately, there are fantastic visual block coding tools for kids, such as ScratchJr and codeSpark, that can be used with youngsters younger than eight who haven’t yet learned how to read. These tools allow kids to build programs by selecting different visual blocks of code that represent actions or events.
Visual block coding encourages problem-solving and logic without additional technical knowledge, making it great for kids still learning basic concepts like syntax, variables, and functions.
Visual block coding is the perfect solution for kids just starting. It encourages problem-solving and logic without additional technical knowledge, making it great for kids still learning basic concepts like syntax, variables, and functions.
With visual block coding, students can see their ideas come to life right before their eyes. They’ll have fun writing code and won’t even notice how much they’re learning. Its importance cannot be overstated: a broad range of skills will not only help your child succeed in a digital world; it will help them succeed in any field they choose.
The key to visual block coding is understanding how user-friendly interfaces operate behind the scenes. Learning how this works can build confidence, give your child more freedom to create (and learn from mistakes), and instill an appreciation for software development that can’t gain by using pre-coded tools or apps alone.
Myth #3: You should use coding apps or online courses for kids instead of teaching them yourself.
Like most parents, you might wonder about the best ways to introduce your kids to coding.
It’s a common question and one that’s difficult to answer: only you know what’s suitable for your child.
Many parents are eager to try out coding apps and online courses.
But here’s the thing: you don’t have to use apps or online courses. You can teach coding at home yourself!
If you can type, then it makes sense that you could use free tools available online to teach your kids how to code. The easiest way is with a visual block language like Scratch, which uses drag-and-drop tiles that snap together like puzzle pieces so kids can build things with their code.
Sure, there are tons of great online courses out there – including some from Disney and NASA – but you don’t have to rely on these if you’re not comfortable with the idea or don’t have the budget for it.
With so many great resources at your fingertips, there is no reason not to teach children how to code. While some parents may feel a bit overwhelmed by the idea of teaching their kids something they know nothing about themselves, don’t worry. There are tons of free resources out there that you can use.
For example, Computer Science Education Week has several events and activities planned for the week of December 3rd through 9th in 2018, including Hour of Code, which you can learn more about here. You can search online to see if there are any events planned in your community or find out ways that you and your family can participate online.
If you’re looking for tutorials, YouTube has a ton of great videos that provide step-by-step instructions on coding basics and tips for teaching kids how to code.
Myth #4: Coding is all about perfecting code (e.g., increasing its efficiency or keeping it short).
Coding is not just about learning to code. Yes, kids will learn to write in a language that computers understand, but the point of coding is not perfection. The point is problem-solving, learning, and creating.
“The reason to learn to code isn’t for making an app or game,” says Shachar. “It’s about understanding how technology works and getting more confidence in working with it.”
There can be multiple ways of solving one problem using code—and sometimes, there are even several ways of doing the same thing in one piece of code! There is no single right way to do something, and there is always room for improvement.”