Every single day, the average individual engages with something built by coding in dozens of different ways.
As adults we have apps, software, social networks, and a million other creatively enabled pieces of code that shape our daily lives. Coding for children isn’t new. In fact, in recent years it’s become the rally cry of tech industry giants and given rise to nonprofits like Codecademy and Code.org.
Why is coding so important? Learning to code teaches kids skills that stretch far beyond the computer. From problem solving, abstraction and critical thinking, the benefits of learning to code are immense. We don’t have to wait until college to encourage our kids to invest in coding.
We can start right now and here’s 7 reasons why kids should learn to code.
CODING FOR KIDS: 7 REASONS WHY KIDS SHOULD LEARN TO CODE
Coding is fun
One of the biggest fears parents have when they’re encouraging their kids to develop skills connected to their future careers is that the skills will be boring or too adult and will suck the fun out of their childhood. Fear not, coding can be fun! In fact, to get started you don’t even need a computer. Unplugged coding activities give even the youngest coders a chance to explore coding concepts in a hands-on and educational way.
Why not get started with something as simple as learning to code with a deck of cards.
Lay out all the cards into a 8 X 8 grid onto the floor. Grab a few toys to create an obstacle course on the grid. Now for the fun part!
One child will act as programmer and one as ‘robot’. The programmer needs to give instructions to the robot to make it through the maze.
For an extra challenge, try giving the instructions all at once in advance. This is the basic concept of an algorithm! For full details check out Teach Your Kids Code: Learn to code with a deck of cards!
Learning to code is about making things
We use code to create. It’s all about creatively applying code to solve problems and develop something useful to the world. It could be a new app or game or a piece of useful software, regardless of what they use it for, they’re developing something concrete and helpful for the world.
Kids can also create and build with code! LEGO WeDo is a gaming series that allows kids to build models with programmable motors and sensors. It’s basically the step between traditional lego building activities and a more advanced robotics course. It’s fun because they’re able to design and build their own creations and see them perform in action.
Who says coding isn’t creative?
Code is the language of our world
In the future, not understanding computers will make the world equally as difficult as being illiterate. Understanding the way technology works is fundamentally important for media literacy, future career prospects, and managing basic life problems. Just look around us, there is an app to manage every single life problem we could dream up.
Technology literacy is even more important in a world where technology addiction is becoming an even bigger problem. By understanding how technology works, we appreciate more the limitations and applications of the technology around us.
Learning to code goes beyond future careers
Computer science is one of the fastest growing career fields. While there is no debating that learning to code will open up future career opportunities, it goes far beyond that. The specific coding languages currently in use may or may not be used in the future but we do know that skills coding teaches us like abstraction, task-analysis, and structure which will always be necessary and highly sought after.
Of course, there’s not shortage of excellent careers in the field of computer programming. Many of the technology giants today were created by young people. Facebook was invented by a 20 year old. Snapchat by a 21 year old. Reddit by a 22 year old and Google by a 25 year old.
When young people are coding, they’re solving problems of interest for their generation. The products that they’re developing can turn into business opportunities to license or sell in the future.
Coding builds resilience and instills persistence
Kids who code learn to fail gracefully and learn from their mistakes. They also learn that success is often the result of hard work and many repetitions of trial and error rather than immediate mastery of a skill. Coding requires young people to retrace their steps, assess the issues at hand and create a detailed action plan for recovery. These are advanced life skills that can be learned through the coding creation process.
Learning to code improves academic performance
Programming builds skills in computational thinking. Young people learn to structure their tasks, divide large tasks into individual steps, create theories, test their ideas, retool errors, and develop logic patterns. These are similar skills that can be developed through math and creative writing but are done in a more creative and experiential manner that can appeal to some kids in ways that traditional academics does not.
By developing these skills they are more easily able to apply the same ideas coding taught them in the traditional classroom.
Kids learn faster than adults
While some of the points in this article may seem premature for a child, it’s important to keep in mind that young people learn a lot more quickly than adults.
Learning to code is similar to learning a language. Kids are able to absorb the information more quickly and it stays with them for longer periods of time. The younger they are when they start, the easier it will be to learn.
READY TO GET STARTED WITH CODING FOR KIDS?
Here are some fun coding activities for kids that you can try today!
3 Screen-Free Coding Ideas with Ozobot Evo
Words of Affirmation Coding Bracelets
The Ultimate List of Technology Activities for Kids
Kid-Friendly Resources for Learning to Code