21st-century kids have witnessed technology evolve first-hand, which has helped them develop computational thinking skills at an early age. Coding is a vast field; the sooner kids are exposed to basic concepts of programming the smoother will be their learning journey. We are headed towards a future where learning programming languages seems to be getting as fundamental as the alphabets of the English language. The right way to expose kids to coding is to choose the right learning environments & resources, and not force them into adapting to a high-pressure learning environment.
Fostering your child’s interest in coding is fairly easy as they already spend a handsome amount of time surrounded by gadgets. That is to say, if we design the learning experience to capture their interest & deliver it in a way that keeps them engaged for longer stretches, we can get them excited about learning new skills. The standard school programs are largely focused on theoretical aspects of a subject which might not even be relevant in real life. As a result, kids are discouraged to pursue the subject altogether. Thankfully, the parents today have a supplementary learning option of virtual curriculums that marries education with technology. The online programs aim to deliver a high value-learning experience with creative & new-age techniques. However, the market is so cluttered with heavily marketed classes for kids, the parents don’t know how to choose better.
Is my kid prepared for coding classes?
How do I choose the right learning environment?
First things first, you don’t have to force coding lessons on them. You can start with encouraging them to ask questions and then lead them to the right learning resources.
Kids and Coding
Kids have impressionable minds, so the parents need to ensure they get the right kind of exposure. But they also have the sharp ability to adapt and learn new things which makes them a better learner than adults.
The Internet of things (IoT) & artificial intelligence has brought a revolution in the field of technology which has made technology increasingly accessible to everyone, from adults to kids. Kids are drawn to games because of their high graphic interface. To nudge your kid into a direction that allows more learning & less consumption, you should try to hook them to a learning environment that’s closer to their play-time environment. Eg. Tekie has created a movie-like learning environment with a sci-fi series to introduce kids to the basic of programming.
It’s a known fact that when kids are given the space to learn at their own pace & liking, they make the most of it and even pick up relevant skills. The rise of visual block platforms can be attributed to kids’ growing interest in games and graphics. Block-based coding interface has visual cues & in-built blocks that get them acquainted with the logical & sequencing aspects of coding. In a way, the visual programming language is the new-age coding game that encourages them to build something fun through maximum concentration and a high reward mechanism.
How early you can introduce kids to coding:
It has been observed that the earlier kids are exposed to basic programming concepts, the more comfortable they grow around the complexities of code. There are shining examples of kids taking up coding as early as 5 years of age. However, it only works when they learn it in a fun, zero pressure & stress-free environment.
The ideal age and coding language to start your kid’s coding journey:
7-11 years: Block-based coding languages like Scratch, Blockly, Snap, MIP App Inventor, etc.
11 & up: Text-based coding languages like Python, Java, Lua, etc. Also, they must get their programming basics right. The “how” is more important than the “when.”
Why you should introduce Coding to your kid:
The Coding Experience makes you a better learner
Programming languages help us issue instructions to the machine to make it function as per our plan. Although programming languages follow strict syntax and commands, they can be used in different combinations to arrive at any desired output. This is where we need human inputs to perform logically & creatively. It’s an immersive learning experience that increases a kid’s attention span & allows focused learning. Programming skills set the base for many valuable skills like logical thinking, arithmetic thinking and sharpen young minds.
These skills come in handy at all ages and circumstances, be it professional goals or personal milestones.
Enhances problem-solving capabilities
The purpose of coding is to automate processes and reduce human effort. The common approach to coding is that of trial & error. In Text-Based programming even if something as trivial as a semicolon (;) is missing, the program stops running.
That means you have to go through various stages of problem-solving: Break down the problem by components, identify the problem area, rectify & analyze the result for accuracy.
This requires a long attention span & patience, and as a result, the kid becomes an expert at problem-solving.
Creativity becomes transmittable
Creativity is an art that is enhanced by practice and persistence. When kids adopt a problem-solving approach, they don’t need any external motivation. And because there are multiple ways to achieve the desired output, the kid ends up exploring many possibilities. It helps them come up with innovative ideas. The excitement of new ideas fuels their creativity and makes it easier to adapt relevant skills.
Kids who have a command over a programming language are drawn to opportunities that require problem-solving and do so creatively.
Coding is an art that is beyond building apps & websites. It doesn’t matter whether your kid wants to be a scientist or a vlogger, we all are fundamentally creators. And creators can benefit from essential skills like problem-solving, creative & critical thinking, which programming teaches so efficiently.