Coding For Kids

What is the best way to teach kids programming?

 “Programming is a kid’s thing.” Yes, you read it correctly. Don’t you believe? Let me show you. Mark Zuckerberg started programming at the age of 10 and developed a programme zucknet at the age of 12 after taking programming classes. How can we forget our own kids at WhiteHat Jr a 6 year old kid created a sign language app for deaf and dumb kids. And many more examples which you can get to see on the link https://instagram.com/whitehatjr?igshid=98378qg9m9q9

Let us start with -what is programming? Many of them must be wondering, it’s not my cup of tea. Let me clear your misconceptions. Programming is a series of commands given to a computer to do a task. Where in a program a strange kind of English is used which a computer can understand and follow. 

Now you may think what is there so cool about programming? In that case, let me tell, it is up to your imagination and understanding what is cool. Without programming we would not have been able to use computer, online shopping sites, Facebook, Ms Office, Calculator in computer, Mobile, Camera on mobile, and the list goes on and on.

Let us understand programming in depth. Programming is not just limited to giving commands but it is everywhere. We use programming for almost everything. When we talk about the best way to teach kids programming most of them wonder- How?

It is well said, “Children are not things to be molded but people to be unfolded.” Jess Liar. Kids should be given freedom to come up with their ideas through trial and error they learn and reach to the peak of creativity, which is essential in programming.

The below are the best ways to teach kids programming.

  • Develop Interest  

Here are the various reasons about which we should have a conversation with kids before teaching them programming to develop their interest.

  1. Robots – Program controlled robots used in the auto sector to make cars, taking care of patients during surgery, to move on other planets, for earth and space exploration, lifting heavy equipment in the manufacturing sector, for assembling, for mass production, in the agricultural sector, and anything you name of.
  2. Rockets – In the making of space rockets programming plays an important role. Like in SpaceX programming language C/C++ is used. A mistake in coding can result in an explosion of the rocket. Hence, programming leads to the execution of the rocket.
  3. Self- driving (autonomous) cars- Where to understand directions and take turns is pretty important. 
  4. Data – Programs help in the medical field to cure diseases by processing huge amounts of data. In big companies programming languages like python is used to analyze a huge amount of data, Even on social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Youtube with the help of programming interpretation of data is done which further helps in the forecasting of the trends.
  5. Games, drawings, and animations – How can we forget games the most favorite of children. Angry birds, pubg, Jump, Minecraft, Doodle, Paint are the result of programming.
  6. Movies – Animated 3D movies by Pixar and Harry Potter movies where cool special effects are given have been possible due to programming. You tell your favorite movie? And I can bet somehow the computer helped it with programming.
  7. Websites and apps – Behind all the websites and apps which we have been using every day like Wikipedia, tic tac, google maps, Gmail, games on play store, company websites, Facebook, Instagram, Amazon, Flipkart, etc. have been the result of programming.
  8. Gadgets – The mobile phones, tablet, laptop, is the result of programming where the touch screen a revolutionary invention has been possible due to programming.
  9. Software – MIS, billing software, accounts software, database software, in all the sectors programming is inevitable.

            You can create wherever your imagination takes you. It must be tough to believe how a drawing program relates to programming a robot or curing diseases. But let me reveal the same basic concepts are used by every programmer in every program like functions, variables, modularity, loops, logic, data types, abstraction. Programming is fun and foundation of technology

  • Kids Psychology

We can start teaching programming by giving kids above examples of things as per their understanding, interest and can relate programming to that. Further, their curiosity develops and they start getting interested. Once they start imagining they will have the curiosity to know and then to make and achieve. They then will set a goal. To know how kids think is very important. Every kid is different with different capabilities. On that basis, the effort can be put in the required area like on logic, speed, communication, creativity, etc. How kids think? Treat them as humans – understanding their psychology. Only after knowing their strengths and weaknesses by understanding their psychology we can trigger and navigate them in the right direction. Kids are quick learners compared to teenagers and adult which has been scientifically proven. The best part about kids is that they can be easily molded and as they grow it becomes tough to change them.

  • Activity-based Learning

 I am an educator. I have taught students of the age group from 3 years to 19 years. I am an Early Childhood educator of coding. I have known, to teach students coding by making them do activity- practical and application based which makes learning faster. For a topic “Event Programming” I ask them their favorite cartoon. Then they say Doremon. Further I ask them the name of the characters and setting of the Doremon. Instantly they are able to express. Then I link that and explain  all this is made possible due to Event programming. So they get a perfect idea. I never impose my thoughts on them. In fact, I try to get understanding of their present knowledge and correlate with the concepts of programming which they find it easy. 

  • Drag and drop

The easy way to start teaching kids programming is with programming languages using drag and drop tools like scratch and later they can be directed towards learning different languages like Javascript, Ruby etc,.which they will later find easier to grasp. Here,we can use Blockly language comparing that to Lego blocks game.

  • Play way learning

Don’t make programming about coding but programming about playing because kids have different objective in life that is just want to have fun. Already they are stressed with their academics so not the same in programming. Once interest is developed they can be taught using play way method and can set a goal for them in a play. For an example – A 3 year child while sliding, I say let’s climb up 1, 2, 3, 4 as the kid climbs the ladder and there you go down the slide. I used numbers 1, 2, 3, 4 and opposite words up and down to teach them. So here, kids play first and then learn instead of learning from books and then applying to real life. So here we can teach them using the cartoon characters in the puzzles to be solved by giving commands.

  • Learn by observing

Kids learn what they see. The behavior of kids is influenced by their environment. So it is the sole responsibility of parents and school for creating such an environment. For example we parents usually complain about their kids using mobile phone but it’s not the kids fault at all. Parents keep using mobile phones and kids observe so and do so. If parents read books then kids develop the habit of reading books. So, the kids having parents as software engineers and programmers possibility is more they absorb programming faster. So here I am not saying parents should do coding but it is just creating such environment by sending them for classes to learn programming languages, providing them with computer books, in schools there should be coding as a subject where students are taught programming languages.

  • Connecting with their environment and current knowledge

First I try to know a child. I ask him/ her questions about their likes, what games they play, who are their friends, activities they have done till now, what they learned in school and try to connect with the child. Then start with a topic where I can relate programming by framing a story or tell them a fact which they can relate to their environment. Correlating the concepts with kid’s existing knowledge which help kids to easily link with the topic explained.

  • Getting to their level

Then we can search for a course suitable for kid-level. For kids above 10 years of age variables can be used. Which means a number which can be changed in Javascript. So slowly the complexity of programming language can be increased considering their level of age and intelligence.

  • Programming languages

We can make kids aware of the computer world by comparing that to the human world like languages which we use and they use. We can start by saying, the way we humans have conversations in different languages like English, Hindi, Telugu, Marathi, etc,. The same way if we want computer to understand us and follow our instructions we need to have a conversation with them in a special language which they understand. Languages like Javascript, java, Python, HTML, Ruby, Blockly and many more are examples of such languages. Making them understand the logic which helps them to relate quickly. There is book Javascript for babies which help kids to learn Javascript in an easy way.

  • Visualization

We should help kids to imagine and visualize to set their goal making them intrigued to programming. Programming requires creativity. So visualizing and imagining many way of doing an activity plays an important role in teaching kids programming. We can teach them by asking them basic question of making a sandwich, brushing your teeth and asking them to break down the task into smaller steps and simply it.

  • Team Work

Teamwork in programming motivates and encourages kids to learn programming faster. Like parents, teachers and peers can become a partner of the child where one does algorithm and other coding, one does bugging and other debugging which is fun too. Students can be divided in groups and can be assigned different tasks. This way, the task can be completed faster, kids learn from each other and above all that they will enjoy programming and learn faster. It is well said the things we enjoy and love we learn faster.  Usually when teaching kids, parents often end up losing their temper. So in that case working in a team ends up as a good option for kids to learn faster.

  • Websites

There’s online coding resources and websites for kids like Code.org, CodeCombat, Code monster, Code Avengers, etc.to teach programming languages such as CSS, HTML and JavaScript in an easy and interactive manner.

  • Words

Lastly, Words have power. Yours words can hurt or heal, discourage or encourage, break or make, can have negative or positive effect. So here what I want everyone to understand that keep motivating kids with great words, support them and help them to do wonders with programming.

Conclusion – Hence, once the base for their learning is laid then sky is the limit for them to explore more and more.

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