30 March, 2020
It’s now common knowledge that for kids, learning how to code is a helpful, if not essential skill. More and more work is being moved online and there are thousands of unfilled programming jobs in the US.
For parents of children who might be too young to begin considering their future job prospects, it’s important to remember how many other ways coding for kids is important. By learning how to program, kids develop problem solving and critical thinking skills — among other things.
Therefore the question is not “should my child learn coding?” Rather we should ask ourselves how to set up kids to be successful while doing so.
Here are five tips for making sure your children get the most out of online coding experiences.
Not all coding programs are alike. When looking at different online coding programs for kids, it’s important to consider things like the platform, price, and overall quality of the curriculum.
Some students will thrive with live online coding classes while others may prefer pre-recorded sessions or even watching YouTube videos.
When choosing an online coding class, the instructor matters a lot too. Not only do you want someone who is knowledgeable and experienced, but also, if your child finds their teacher interesting and/or relatable, it’s more likely they’ll be motivated to learn.
Coding should be fun, but it’s also a learning experience. Find a space that’s quiet and free of distraction. While often times parents are tasked with trying to get their kids to spend less time with screens, this is a time when you actually want them focused on nothing else.
If your house doesn’t have a separate space they can use, set them up at a table facing a wall or away from the main part of the room that might create distractions.
It’s also important to respect the fact that this is a learning experience. While they’re in class, try to treat it like they’re on an important business call by not interrupting and keeping the environment as quiet as possible. If you treat it like a class, they will too.
One of the most important aspects of any learning program is recall. Encouraging your kids to not only practice what they’re learning, but also try and explain it to someone else can be a big boost to retention. Who better to get the recap than you?
Even if you don’t have a coding background yourself, there are plenty of online resources that will give you enough information so you can ask questions and participate in a conversation with your child. Even better, sign up for an adult class and learn together.
Autonomy is crucial in any learning environment. By giving your child the ability to make decisions and feel in control of what they’re doing, they’ll learn better and enjoy the experience more.
High quality online coding programs and summer online coding camps for kids should allow them to have autonomy within the coursework and when kids are working on their own, they should be encouraged to be creative.
When kids learn to code, it might seem like they’re learning a new language — because they are! Just like becoming fluent in Spanish or French, learning to code requires time, patience, and continued practice. Finding online coding programs that allow for kids to progress from level to level is important, as is encouraging at-home coding exercises.