The roll out of computer coding classes in schools around the world has proven that they are finally standing up and taking notice of societal changes in both education and industry; not to mention the abundance of kids enthusiasm for the topic. As schools begin to implement coding into their own curriculum, an obvious response to the success of volunteer-led initiatives such as CoderDojo, you as a parent can give your child a head-start by getting your kids and coding together without waiting for schools to catch up. By following my top two tips below, you will set them up for success in a technological world where anything is possible.
Kids and Coding – What You Can Do
Even if you’ve never touched a text editor, don’t know your C++ from your 1, 2, 3s and think that Java Programming is related to coffee machine manufacturing, you can play a huge role in sparking your child’s interest in coding and computer science. Learning to code is more than just a mechanical, discrete skill set. It’s a way of learning how to think, to analyse problems and to apply structural reasoning to solve them. So while educators still debate and discuss metrics, course learning outcomes and budgetary constraints, take a deep breath and be confident that you can give your child a headstart by following a few simple guidelines.
Tip 1: Make It Entertaining
Coding for kids needs to be fun! Not all educators share this point of view unfortunately. Many still use the ‘Hello World’ method in which students learn to use a programming language to print out the words ‘Hello World’ on a screen. Younger kids, in my experience, find this method tedious and can even serve to dissuade them from learning how to code. The best advice is to stay away from academic lessons; have fun trying out games and building kits. Play with things and don’t worry if you break them! Some kids might like to make a robot jump around on a screen, while others might like to create a webpage. Your child might even want to work with a real robot
Tip 2: Start With One Language
There are literally hundreds of programming languages out there. The most common question I get asked is which one is best, which one will allow the learner to earn the most money later in life. Many students try to learn as many languages as they can to ‘bolster’ their opportunities. This can end in confusion and frustration as there are many similarities between languages but also a great number of differences, depending on the type of language the learner is studying. Take one language and commit to it – try to experience everything you can with it
The Gift Of Coding
Start with the guidelines above and you will have set your child on a path to reach their potential in coding. You will open up a brand new exciting world to them, a world in which the opportunities are endless. You may just tap into something that lays the foundation of knowledge and confidence to inspire the next generation of software engineers!