Teaching computational thinking for kindergartens, more than ever, is very important. Computational thinking is one skill that will continue to remain relevant in many decades to come.
This is why schools have started introducing computational thinking to kindergartens. Computational thinking in its entirety might be too complex for younger kids to learn, but, using the right methods, kindergartens have the chance to learn computational thinking.
Teaching computational thinking for kindergarten poses a lot of benefits, not only for the kids but for parents and teachers as well. This article examines all you need to know about computational thinking for kids, the benefits of teaching computational thinking to kids, and how to teach computational thinking to kindergartens.
Overview of Computational Thinking for Kindergarten
Kids below the ages of 5 are kindergartens. This is a formative stage for kids, and the best time to equip them with the basics of skills you want them to possess in the long run. Computational thinking is an early cornerstone of childhood development- they learn the intricacies of problem-solving in their various subjects and in the real world.
Kids will take over the workspace and other aspects of life in the near future, so you must inculcate computational thinking skills in them, to help them thrive and solve problems excellently.
Hannah Pals, a Robotics Club Instructor, and Science teacher mentioned that teachers should develop computational thinking in kids. According to her, “kids learn patterns, hypotheses, and more while playing with blocks and games, and interacting with the world around them. To expand on this natural process makes for powerful and authentic learning that can easily be built upon later for complex tasks.”
In other words, computational thinking is a problem-solving skill. It is a natural skill embedded in every human, but to maximize it, parents, teachers, and other instructors need to teach kids how to teach computationally right from their kindergarten. Every activity they engage in should have elements that will gear them towards computational thinking. That way, they will grow with the skills, and thinking computationally will become natural for them,
All About Computational Thinking for Kids
Computational thinking for kids is simply the ability of a person to creatively solve a problem or execute a task. Computational thinking for kids encourages independent and smart thinking. Kids are taught the rudiments of solving problems from scratch. It is more effective for kids to learn the steps involved in solving problems, rather than teaching them how to solve a particular problem.
Another aspect of computational thinking is replication. Kids must learn how to solve problems using a method that others can follow. Providing a replicable solution is, in fact, one of the four major steps toward computational thinking.
Below is an example of how to teach computational thinking to kids:
A teacher places four students in two rooms- 2 each and gives them a problem to solve. Each room has a laptop connected to the internet, and games lying around. The teacher also asks them to take note of how they arrived at a solution to the problem, so they can explain it to the rest of the class.
Here are the possible outcomes of the task:
- The students focus on solving the task together. They check for related tasks on the computer and select the best method for them. Then, they document all the steps they took in solving the tasks, including the discussions they had.
- The students give up solving the task mid-way and chat all through the process. They also conclude that the problem is too hard for them to solve, and wait for the teacher to provide solutions to the problem.
- The students opt for searching for answers on the computer but find something more fascinating. They forget about the task at hand and divert their attention to other fascinating games and activities.
Outcome A is what computational thinking is. They were able to avoid distractions, and narrow down their search to the most important and related data. Then, they also give a detailed guide on how they solved the problem.
This brings us to the four key techniques of computational thinking. They are Decomposition, Pattern Recognition, Abstraction, and Algorithms.
Decomposition is the act of breaking down complex problems into smaller, distinct chunks. This is the first step kids or anyone will take towards computational thinking. It will also help kids to think algorithmically. They will also learn how to understand problems and tasks before diving to solve them.
This is the process of identifying similarities between each chunk. It involves checking for patterns in previous problems and determining if there are similarities between both problems. Pattern recognition helps kids digest a problem faster and solve it more easily. A recurring problem makes it easy to spot problems and provide solutions based on past related problems. Some of the benefits of pattern recognition are logical thinking, memory retention, quick problem solving, and visualization, among others.
Patterns happen in our everyday life. When kids can recognize that patterns can be found in our everyday routine, then they are one step away from becoming computational thinkers!
Abstraction, which is the third element of computational thinking, is the process of eliminating irrelevant information to focus only on the important ones. Abstraction helps to narrow the scope of a problem and focus on the important details alone.
An escape room activity is a great way to teach kids abstraction. Escape rooms are equipped with enough props, irrelevant clues, patterns, and details to throw kids off course.
The joy of solving a problem is not only in solving it alone but also in helping other people solve it. Algorithms mean developing a step-by-step guide to solving the problem.
Algorithms are important because they help one to arrive at the same conclusion all the time. Teachers can introduce algorithms to kids by giving them a new problem to solve and writing down ALL the steps it takes them to solve the problem. Then, have them share these steps with their friends.
Computational thinking for kindergarten uses simpler, subtle, natural, and practical methods to teach computational thinking to younger kids.
STEM Education With Computational Thinking
Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) education helps to improve computational thinking in kids. Many STEM projects are geared towards developing computational thinking for kids and teenagers.
STEM education projects cause kids to think critically, and carefully, both of which are features of computational thinking.
Goals for Computational Thinking
The primary goal of computational thinking is to give kids the ability to independently solve problems and perform tasks. Other goals of computational thinking, as discussed earlier are:
- Pattern recognition
In summary, computational thinking aims to develop one’s ability to break down complex problems into smaller chunks (decomposition), identify the similarities between the problems (pattern recognition), eliminate irrelevant information to focus on the problem at hand (abstraction), and finally, provide a step-by-step guide on how to solve that problem (algorithms).
Fundamentals of Computational Thinking for Young Children
The key fundamentals of computational thinking for kindergarten and older kids are to help them develop a strategic and efficient mindset toward solving problems. Other fundamentals of computational thinking include:
- Computational thinking was designed for young children to help build their problem-solving skills.
- It also encourages group discussions among kids, as they get to share their experiences and tips on how they solve a task.
- Computational thinking improves STEM skills in kids.
Things to Know About Computational Thinking For Kids
Here are the things you need to know about computational thinking for kids.
- Computational Thinking improves logical thinking in kids
- It improves communication among kids
- Computational thinking is a necessary skill for kids to thrive in their various subjects.
- Computational thinking is not something kids can learn in one day; parents and teachers need to constantly imbibe it in kids and make it a day-to-day activity for them.
- Computational thinking is a lifelong skill that breeds other skills, including teamwork, logical perception, inquisitiveness, and emotional intelligence, among others.
Frequently Asked Qustions
This is simply the act of teaching kids their various subjects using computational thinking methods, including decomposition, pattern recognition, abstraction, and algorithms.
The four stages of computational thinking, also known as elements, are decomposition, pattern recognition, abstraction, and algorithms. These four stages are crucial steps that must be followed when learning computational thinking.
Summary Computational Thinking for Kindergarten
To become excellent computational thinkers, kids must adapt to the rules of computational thinking as early as possible. Computational thinking is not forced; it occurs naturally after one might have cultivated the habit of thinking computationally. Hence, computational thinking should be incorporated into kids’ curricula, including pre-school and kindergarten.
More Inspiration for Kindergarteners Learning to Code
If you want to checkout more posts around teaching kids that are interested in coding, here are some great posts specific to kindergarteners.