If you are a parent and you want to teach your kids how to code, then you have made the right choice. Digital skills are on the rise, and several established and start-up companies are seeking coders to join their teams.
It is pertinent you equip your kids with current digital and technological skills to help them stay relevant in society.
Do You Need to Understand Coding Before You can Teach Your Kids?
The simple answer is NO. As a parent, you do not need to know how to code before you can teach your kids how to do it.
There’s good news too: If you have no knowledge of coding and you want to learn, teaching your children how to code is a great avenue for you to also learn the process.
One thing to note, however, is that you must first develop an interest in coding to be successful in it. Coding is creativity, and creativity is passion. It is not a formula or arithmetic which you rehearse; rather, it is like a hobby that you develop. The way one keeps finding creative methods to maintain a hobby is the same way you keep developing more codes to create a software or website (coding).
So, as a parent or teacher, if you want to teach kids how to code, you need to develop a passion for it first and be ready to learn, unlearn and relearn the process.
Best Age to Teach Kids Coding
Generally, you can start teaching kids how to code right from their Pre-kindergarten school. There are various coding materials and games for all age groups, and age is not a barrier to teaching coding.
Many parents, however, prefer to wait till their children are five years and above before introducing coding to them. This way, it is easier for them to recognize their kids’ areas of interest and analyze their level of understanding.
If you ideally want to learn coding along with your kids, then you can wait till they are 5 or 6 years old so you all can learn and have great fun at it!
Important Tips on How to teach Coding to Kids
Here are a few things to note before teaching your kids how to code:
Get them interested
Children are fond of games, and if you inform them that coding helps a game site or app run efficiently, you will pique their interests, and they'll want to learn more.
Explain to them it's just math and languages
Coding is a combination of Math and Languages. But, kids need to understand that coding requires a basic understanding of Math. Generally, kids hate Math, so it is important you let them know that coding does not require exceptional Math skills; just basic Math would do.
Make them understand that coding is like learning a new language
Coding is equivalent to learning a new language. You introduce new terms like Python, Java, Html, and this might seem a bit frightening to your kids. So, you need to gradually incorporate the basics of the coding language into them before advancing to the technical concepts involved.
Tell them you want to learn with them
Admit to your kids that you are also new to the field and that you will love to grow with them. This would excite them, and encourage them to learn more. Also, leave room for contributions from the kids, and let them have fun and get creative. Kids love when they are given relevance, and it encourages them to learn more.
Explain the fundamental building blocks
Building blocks is a basic game that kids play, so it is advisable to teach your kids how to code by using a set of building blocks. Gradually, they will understand components, shapes, colors, and patterns. Before you know it, your kids will learn to create and recreate simple codes.
When children build blocks, they first learn how to arrange them using a basic pattern. Gradually, they discover that they can recreate the blocks in different shapes and lengths. Subsequently, they realize that they can be more creative and create different shapes out of the blocks. That is what coding is like- you first learn the basics, then gradually, you discover interesting codes you can make out of a simple problem.
Introduce fun and games using visual block platforms
Children absolutely love having fun. They can literally ditch a box of chocolates for anything games and fun! Thankfully, there are many fun coding games and puzzles for kids you can select from. It is also recommended that you use visual block platforms instead of text-based coding platforms.
Visual block platforms make the learning process more interesting, colorful, and fun for kids. Some of the best-rated code games include scratch, game builder, Microsoft MakeCode, and algorithm city.
Establish a routine to monitor your kids' progress
Coding, just like other subjects, has a wide array of topics on which you can focus. It is recommended that you expose your kids to the general fundamentals of coding as a whole. Create a routine and teach them the basics of each type.
This would help you know their strengths and weaknesses, after which you can narrow your lessons from there. Sometimes, it is easy to identify their passions from the games and activities they are interested in. If a child enjoys playing games, you can teach that child the gimmicks behind creating those game apps and websites. Also, if a kid is passionate about social media, you can teach them how to develop a social media platform.
Develop a flexible plan
Remember, you are learning with your kids, and they should not see coding as another boring problem to solve, but as a form of leisure and fun. You should try to be as informal as possible and allow your kids to initiate activities and assignments.
The goal is for your kids to have fun while learning; your plan is only a means to an end, so you should focus more on the process, than on the method.
Also, endeavor to leave room for mistakes. Encourage your kids to make mistakes. Mistakes are a part of learning, and you should let them understand that mistakes signify progress. The more they learn, the more the mistakes, and the faster they adapt and learn from their mistakes.
Benefits of Teaching Coding to Kids
Here are some of the many benefits of teaching coding to kids:
Coders are in High Demand
The world is going exclusively digital, and coding is a skill that will remain relevant for centuries. Coders are constantly in high demand, and a coder can earn a high income compared to their peers.
Coding Improves Creativity
Coding, just as mentioned earlier, is like learning a new language. When you have a better understanding of a language, you will learn to come up with creative terms and concepts. For instance, children are taught that the past tense of give=gave, lend=lent, and bring=brought. When a child fully grasps the concept behind the formulation of these words, they can easily deduce that the past tense of sink=sank, feel=felt, and become=became.
Now, the same rule applies to coding. Once your kid understands the reasons for certain actions while coding, they would learn to solve complex codes and be very creative while at it. Your kids would be able to extend their creativity to other aspects of their lives.
Coding improves their persistence and problem-solving skills
Honestly, coding is challenging. It needs persistence and consistency. And, with the right encouragement and nuggets, kids would learn the art of persistency. As a parent/tutor, ensure that you celebrate their wins, failures, and push them to push harder!
Coding creates room for innovation
Many of us do not understand the technological world that we live in. We use smartphones, social media, and other products without actually understanding their components and how they were brought to life.
However, when you train kids on coding, it will help them understand these technological innovations better. And what better way to live than to be able to relate to these gadgets and become innovative?
It is no doubt now that coding is essential for kids. Also, it is important to note that there is no perfect rule on how to teach coding to kids. You only need to follow the right steps and blend with your kids' needs and interests.
Make the process as flexible and as fun as possible. You can start with free online kids coding platforms like Scratch and Microsoft MakeCode. These platforms allow kids to learn how to create fun games and apps, and make them from scratch themselves.
Other Posts Learning Code for Kids
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- Coding Information and Resources to Teach Kids Computer Science