Introducing Coding to Kids: A Guide for Parents and Guardians
Childhood is a fantastic time, which is why you remember it so fondly. It is a time of discovering things, understanding how the world works around you and learning how to be a successful member of your immediate social setting. Nothing can match the curiosity of a child. You may become astounded by all the why, what, when and how questions that your child asks. Why is my apple red? What are you doing in the bathroom? When will we reach Grandma's house? How can I fly? But it is a joy to indulge their curiosities and, in the process, discover new things yourself.
But today's generation is also blessed because of how our lives have become intermingled with technology. Kids have access to information and knowledge at their fingertips, and Alexa is always there to help them with their endless questions. (Which, in a way, reduces our burdens as parents!). And the language of communication with technology is coding. It's never too early to start learning this language, just like any other.
Introduce Coding to Kids
Early language acquisition is the key to competency in any language. Children can benefit greatly in terms of cognitive and social development. These benefits will enable them to fit in a more globalized world and also aids them in becoming more successful. Several studies have proven that kids learning to code sharpens their minds, enhancing decision-making and problem-solving aptitudes. It augments multitasking among children, which leads to improved memory. It also increases a child's networking ability. So, it is evident that coding is one of the vital subjects for children in today's digital age.
How to explain coding to kids?
In order to code, you need to have a clear understanding of how computers work and what they are capable of. One way to explain coding to kids is by using analogy. You can tell them that coding is like giving instructions to a robot. Just as you need to tell a robot what to do and how to do it, you need to write code in order for a computer to understand your instructions. Another way to explain it is by breaking down the steps of coding into simple terms.
For example, you can tell them that every line of code is like a sentence. And, just like a sentence, each line has a specific purpose. When you put all of the lines together, they create a program that can do something useful, like play a game or calculate numbers. No matter how you choose to explain it, be sure to make it fun and engaging for kids. After all, coding is all about creativity and problem-solving!
Getting Kids Interested in Programming Concepts
As parents, you always look for engaging and educational activities for your children. Coding is one such activity that is fun, engaging and educational - all at the same time. Children learn the fundamentals of coding more effectively the earlier they start. Suppose you have ever settled in someplace else other than your native region. In that case, you might have observed a phenomenon – your child picks up the regional language faster than you. This is because children's minds are wired differently. They are sponges that absorb new things more efficiently than old minds, which revel in stagnation. Points to remember when introducing programming concepts to children.
Start with a Low Code or No Code Tool
It would help if you introduced coding as a fun and exciting venture. If children find it boring, they will lose all interest in it. Outside of screen time, you can teach your child the fundamentals of coding. To simulate algorithm creation, use their own toys. Play pretend with your children, as a robot and a programmer, or use games to introduce them to more complex conditional programming ideas. To get kids interested in coding, you may also alter outdoor activities like hopscotch and treasure hunts and follow the leader. These exercises can show the many fascinating applications of computer programming. Several STEM-based activities on The Pretty Geeky can be utilized to foster positive interest in coding.
Coding can be learnt through self-study. But it is recommended that a structured approach is better for grasping the basics of coding. Remember when you learnt how to swim? You had one or both of your parents cheering you from the pool edge, which bolstered your courage. Similarly, individual attention goes a long way in creating and sustaining interest in coding. If you are not particularly tech-savvy, learning the basics of coding with your child will also benefit you.
Remember to Have Fun
While introducing and pursuing the rudiments of coding with your kids, don't forget to have fun. Indulge in some well-spent time building your dream vehicle with the Lego blocks or create the Pacman maze with blankets and pillows. Your bedroom may look like a tornado has gone through it, but you have a happy child at the end of the day.
Basic Programming Languages That Are Kid-Friendly
Coding is a great cognitive tool that helps toddlers with their reading and math skills. Through fun hands-on games and activities, code writing for kids is introduced in the preschool stage. Activities include building blocks, activity worksheets, puzzles and mazes, story sequences, etc. One of the ideal ways to introduce kids to the coding basics is through The Pretty Geeky's card game - Code-Ayana. It is an epic way of learning coding without screen time and is ideal for kids aged 4 to 10 years.
Kids between the ages of 8 and 16 can use the free programming language Scratch. An intuitive, user-friendly graphic block interface is offered by Scratch. The platform's ease of use encourages children to get interested in learning to code.
Java (Minecraft coding language)
This platform is intended for users who are already familiar with the fundamentals of coding. Java is one of the most popular programming languages in use today. Additionally, Minecraft uses it as its language. Children can better comprehend coding language syntax thanks to it.
Several other platforms, like Blockly, Alice, Twine, etc., are also ideal for beginners and novices in code learning. The above three are the most common basic coding languages children are introduced to. It is a partial list, and various other languages are aimed towards more developed learners.
Coding isn't for Everyone and Shouldn't Be Forced
The future is digital. It is our responsibility as parents to introduce our children to this digital world in a safe manner. And coding helps us to do this and also allows the child to flourish creatively and logically. From preschoolers through high schoolers, anybody can learn to code. Since coding is a language, it is beneficial to introduce it as early as possible. And this initial introduction should be done in a fun and engaging manner. If it is boring, kids may eventually learn to program but will not remain engaged in the activity. It is important also to remember that you cannot force a child to learn something that they have no interest in. First, check the child's interest level, then introduce the basics of coding.
The Pretty Geeky has numerous toys and games that indulge a child's natural curiosity and make STEM fun. Basic knowledge about STEM helps children better acclimate to coding in the future. Interest in coding will help a child in the primary stages and open up the road to flourishing career prospects. Coding for children does not have a one-size-fits-all solution. Parents must invest time and research what would suit their child individually. Once the path is set, the road becomes easy.