With the advent of technology, coding has gained more popularity, with parents coming to the realisation that one of the essential skills for the future is computer programming or coding for kids. However, it is very difficult for kids to understand or learn to code.
There are few do’s and don’ts to keep in mind while teaching kids how to code.
1. Make it interesting
When teaching any subject, the teacher has to keep in mind that kids tend to lose interest if the subject does not hold their attention. It is the same with coding. It is relatively easy to get kids to try computer programming, but quite challenging to keep them engaged with it. One of the best ways to teach kids coding is to teach them using tools that interest them, such as online gaming, video games, etc
Once the child realises that he or she can learn the intricate details of his or her favourite online games, chances are that they will be more eager to learn the complex coding concepts involved in creating their favourite games, a process which requires patience and hard work. The child might also be motivated to aim to be the best at the game by learning how it functions.
2. Visual Block Languages
Visual block interfaces such as Scratch are user-friendly for kids and are some of the best ways to introduce kids to coding concepts.
Scratch is one of the relatively easy software’s to start learning with, considering that a majority of the kids are capable of learning without supervision. Even parents who are not too technologically advanced can follow some of the well-designed lessons created by Google that will allow them to take part in the fun and learn coding themselves. Scratch has devised a fun visual block platform that teaches coding concepts and at the same time, allows the students to build fun games as creatively as possible. Google CS also has carefully designed and well thought out course plans that are easy for the kids to understand and follow.
The course plan allows kids to learn about the Scratch visual block code that was used to make many famous 2-Dimensional games such as Donkey Kong, etc. The interface also allows for the users to add their art, animation, music, sound effects, and voice-over.
3. The choice is theirs
For every subject, the kids are the best judges of how much they can grasp and study. It is advised to let the child decide what and how much to study, according to their individual capacities. That way the child will maintain the interest to study coding. Coding is a course that requires a lot of patience and hard work.
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4. Creativity is key
Many coding courses provide a hands-on experience, forcing the kids to follow a certain path to learn how to code while being cautious of bugs and virus. However, with this approach, kids will feel bored quickly. They will lose their interest in the coding. Research shows that kids will learn faster when they are allowed to be creative. Coding is one course which requires uninhibited creativity.
Scratch allows kids to be as creative as possible, where they are given the chance to create their characters and to make decisions about game mechanics. Other options such as CodaKid teaches kids how to use professional tools with creative freedom and support from online teachers. The sooner that kids are allowed to be completely creative, the higher chance there is of them sticking with coding for the long term.
5. Ensure that the course is child-friendly
Most computer science courses are designed for adults with a vocational objective, to train them for jobs or careers. This kind of content will be dry and boring for the kids and will be too advanced for their understanding. The best way to ensure that the kids do not get bored is to deliver content in smaller chunks, keeping in mind that they can process only limited information in a specified time. Also, the course could have small, fun projects to challenge the kids.
6. Introduce them to effective video tutorials
After the kids find their interest in coding, they might want to create new applications and games. Most courses would complicate the course with professional languages and tool. At these times, it is okay for the child to refer to video tutorials which explain the process and the student will be able to follow according to his/her pace. A lot of YouTube channels generate this content, which will be useful for learning.
7. Language does not matter
A matter of worry to both parents and teachers is what coding language to introduce. While it is a good idea to stay consistent for at least one course, it should be understood that the concepts in each major programming language are very similar. Thus, it is better to follow the child’s interests rather than to force them to stick with one language for consistency. Some of the languages include:
- Python: It is used more in the expansion of web apps, data analysis, user interfaces, amongst others.
- Java: It can be utilized for mobile-based applications, business purposes such as making desktop applications, and to establish Android apps for tablets and smartphones.
- PHP: With the help of Hypertext Pre-processor, web apps can be enlarged efficiently and effortlessly. PHP is the foundation of many content management systems like WordPress.
- Objective-C: It is used efficiently in constructing apps for iOS. Knowledge of Objective-C can help in applying XCode, which is the authorized software development tool from Apple.
- Ruby: This programming language is applied massively for web programming.
- Perl: It is mainly used in sites and web app expansion, desktop app development and system administration. It is also used to test databases, web apps and networking devices.
- C, C++ and C#: C is mainly applied in forming different software. C++ is a bit more progressive than C and is used to create hardware speeded games. It is the ideal choice for strong desktop software as well as apps for mobiles and desktop. C++ is applied in operating systems, such as Windows. C# is the main language for Microsoft applications and services.
8. Let the child choose
Often many parents push their child towards without taking into consideration the kids’ interest, opinions and passion. This can cause the interest to die out and cause the child to burn out and despise coding.
To learn how to code is a slow yet steady process. Often, parents are under the misconception that the upcoming generations will compulsorily need to know computer science to succeed in almost every profession including medicine, education, business, law, etc.
It is advised that kids learn coding at a young age, because it is the time that their brains are developing, which is why it is easier for them to grasp new concepts sooner than adults