25 March, 2020
It is never too early or too late to start coding. In a technologically dependent society, an understanding of the fundamental concepts of computer science, digital literacy, and programming will put kids in a better place for virtually every aspect of their future. The ability to code will enable them to build their future careers in the world’s fastest growing STEAM industries, develop analytic thinking and problem-solving skills, and follow their interests in a way which enhances their education.
Whatever your child’s age, the most important element to consider is their personal interests. There is no one-size-fits-all programme or language which every kid must start with, and there are so many more elements to coding than simply sitting in front of a computer screen. Whether your child is inspired by robotics, enjoys the latest games, or loves being creative with art and design, there truly is a niche for everyone, and learning to code knows no age boundaries.
The idea of computer programming may seem dauntingly complex, leading to a degree of technophobia among many parents. However, our kids are growing up in a vastly different world than we did. Children are acquainted with electronic devices as early as books, and curriculums worldwide are being updated so that, from the start of their education, kids are introduced to computer literacy. After all, at its most basic, computer programming is learning a new language – and the younger you start, the easier it is to master.
Children can start learning to code as early as 5 years old, although some course providers offer programmes for those even younger! At this early age, coding classes are focussed on fun and interactive activities, which teach kids what a computer program is and how to create simple ones. There are different methods to suit children’s ages and learning styles.
Between the ages of 5-7, children typically learn via visual block interfaces, colourful and eye-catching platforms which use drag-and-drop elements rather than typing, and which can even be run on low-end devices. One of the most popular is the game creation platform Scratch developed by MIT. Another popular platform is Kodu, developed by Microsoft that allows kids to create their own, 3D video games. From 8 onwards, children can generally move onto text-based coding at an age-appropriate level, which uses typed rather than visual elements. There are some languages specifically for children which combine text with visual elements. However, kids can work with professional-level tools and languages from the age of 8!
The most important thing at this early age is to ensure that your kid is interested in coding. Computer programming is a challenging subject and too academic a project can make young children bored and discouraged. Children can supplement their school classes with online courses which enhance their learning in a controlled and informative but engaging way. The curriculums of online coding classes for kids vary widely to suit your child’s interests, for example programming simple games or an introduction to robotics and engineering. Research the coding languages behind your child’s interests to find the most appropriate course.
By this point, kids should have become acquainted with many different types of software and hardware and should understand how to appropriately and safely use electronic devices. Children of this age can read and write proficiently and are able start coding straightaway with text-based interfaces. In middle school curriculums, kids will start learning textual programming languages and Boolean logic and can attempt more challenging projects, which can open up wider opportunities for those beginning to code.
Learning to code in high school can open many doors for a child’s academic or career progress. Basic coding experience will add to a university application and provide a clear advantage over less technologically-savvy peers. Moreover, it’s well known that STEAM careers are in increasingly high demand nowadays, and coding jobs in particular can offer lucrative salaries. Kids can start coding in a directed way, selecting the language and platforms they learn based on what will prove most useful for their future.
However, it’s important to remember that kids learning to code at this age should still be motivated by their interests, otherwise it can seem difficult and boring. Kids should not feel discouraged from starting coding in their teenage years just because it’s for a hobby rather than a career springboard – after all, any experience is good experience, and who knows where their coding skills may take them?
At CodeAdvantage we have programs suited to every age, level and interest, where your kids can learn to code in a secure and engaging educational environment. These include Pre-Kindergarten sessions teaching basic computer skills, LEGO-based junior robotics courses, Minecraft Modding where kids can learn to write Java in their favourite game, and advanced web development and design courses. CodeAdvantage also is a leader in online kids coding programs and online summer coding camps which give families the flexibility of having their children code online from home.