The Basic Guide to Start Coding For Kids
Coding for kids is a definite advantage in today’s world. Coding can be a deciding factor for landing a job and can provide an infinite landscape of creativity. But that’s just the thing—not many people know how to do it. Up until recently coding was not something typically taught to children. And even now, the teaching of coding is not universal. Given the advantages that coding skills bring, it’s a great idea to start your child’s coding education now. Here we will go over some simple steps on coding for kids.
Learning the language
The most important thing to understand when kids start coding is that coding is a language. As with any language, one must know the alphabet before one can construct words. The first step of your child’s coding education will be getting them familiar with this language through immersive activities. At first, it might be a good idea to start with a coding toy (of which there are many!). That way, your child can become familiar with code without even realizing they’re learning a whole new language. This immersion will also help naturally develop an interest in coding, which you can build upon as your child grows.
The best coding software for kids to start coding is MIT’s Scratch. Suitable for children ages 8-13, Scratch allows users can drag and drop coding blocks to create some kind of graphic. Scratch is a great way to start coding as it provides guidance for coding beginners. This will also allow them to understand the relationships between code blocks in a new way.
Expanding skills (and some tips)
After Scratch, you’ll want to move your child to a more versatile program like Python. In Python, you write entirely your own code and have few boundaries. Of course the difficulty of this is knowing what to write without guidance, which can be paralyzing. To combat this, it’s a good idea to give your child certain projects to code. For example, a game is great for your child to interact with the code they made. The Internet is also a great resource for finding coding projects for kids since other coders often share templates.
Hopefully by this point, you, the parent, will have picked up some coding skills of your own when teaching your kids to code. You can and should use those skills to talk through lines of code with your child, just as you would talk through difficult words to help your child sound them out. But do try to steer clear of touching their keyboard or mouse. This can feel invasive to their sacred coding learning space, but more importantly, it also prevents your child from getting the hands-on practice they need. Be patient.
When your child is at the point where they have a pretty good understanding of code, talk to them about the ways code can be applied to life. Whenever you’re walking around, point out objects and systems that wouldn’t be able to exist without code, like traffic lights or electronic advertisements. Your child’s ability to code doesn’t define them, and doesn’t have to ultimately relate to their career. But it is important to let them know that their skills are valuable in this world.
As was mentioned earlier, the great thing about coding for kids is that there are now so many resources and online communities focused on honing coding skills. All you have to do is get your child started.