Coding is a way to engage both children's and adults' creative and logical minds. Gone are the days when coding was only accessible and understood by those trained in the language. Technological advances have made coding something that all ages and experience levels can do.
Coding is a fun way for children to engage with technology in ways they may not be used to. However, to make the experience worthwhile and meaningful, it must be taught developmentally appropriately. Here is how you can explain coding to kids.
What is Coding?
Coding is a complex topic that takes time to learn, but you need to explain it in kid friendly terms. The easiest way to explain coding is to tell children it is the way that humans can learn to communicate with computers. It is learning the language of a computer.
What is Programming?
Programming is what you are able to do once you learn to code. Once you have learned the “language” of the computer, you can begin to write a series of instructions you would like the computer to follow. Programming can be challenging to do if you haven’t learned the language first.
What are Programming Languages?
The programming language is something that you use to write code for a computer. Currently, there are over 700 different programming languages in use, but for kids there are three that would be best to look at.
Scratch (Block Coding)
Scratch is a free online platform that allows kids to learn code in a fun and hands on way. They can complete activities interactively, both independently and collaboratively. Many schools choose to use this platform because it is kid friendly and makes coding fun.
Python is one of the easier methods of coding to learn, but there are several variables that need to be learned before you can jump into coding. There are both classes and online programs that can help with this. One of the best online platforms to learn Python on is Code Monkey. The platform allows kids to learn platform in a game-based way that makes if both fun and memorable. This platform requires a fee to use the resources.
Java is widely used programming language and is used primarily for creating video games and mobile apps.
What Can You Do with Code?
Code can be used in many different careers and hobbies. Because it is so versatile, there are many things you can do with it. Here are some of the top uses for code.
- Make websites
- Create apps
- Create software
- Make games
- Program robots
- Write programs for appliances and electronics
Many people choose to make coding a career, while others focus on coding for fun. No matter what you choose, the options are limitless.
What Are Coding Syntaxes?
The syntax of coding refers to the rules the programmer needs to follow when they are writing code. If a programmer doesn’t follow the correct syntax, the program will likely not work.
What Are Variables and Functions?
Variables and functions can be quite complex to understand. The best way to explain this concept to children is to use the example of containers. A variable is like a box that contains something special. The function is the action that needs to be taken to get the item out of the box.
When it comes to coding and functions, it is important to remember that functions have both an input and an output. For example, if you pull a string across the floor (input), the kitten will chase it (output). There are many different inputs and outputs that can be used in programming.
What Are the Best Ways to Learn Coding?
There isn’t just one way to teach kids coding. Because coding is such a broad topic, there are many ways kids can learn. The most important thing to do is make the learning fun. If the process is not presented in a fun way, kids are not likely to stick with it. Two of the best ways to learn coding are with Apps and classes, both in person and online. These options will offer challenge and variety in a fun and appealing way.
Numerous apps allow children to explore coding in a fun and easy-to-understand way. When looking at apps, you should keep these things in mind.
Age: You need to keep the child's age in mind when choosing an appropriate app. The apps should be play-based for younger children with essential foundational skills introduced in a fun and easy-to-understand way. As children get older, they will likely enjoy apps that require more thoughtfulness and application of their abilities. Introducing challenging apps too soon could cause frustration.
Style: Think about the type of app you want your child to engage with. Do you want them to use a game-based app, lesson-focused, application, beginner, or advanced? There are many levels and styles you can choose from for apps. Make sure it is something your child will engage with.
System: Make sure the app you choose to use will work with your operating system. Apps that work with a Chromebook may not be compatible with an iPad and vice versa. Knowing this ahead of time will save a lot of frustration and time.
Price: There are many excellent apps available for free, but several also require a subscription or fee for use. Before you download or access any app, make sure you understand payment requirements ahead of time. This will help ensure you don't experience any surprise charges.
Coding classes are becoming more popular as technology use increases. Sometimes schools offer coding classes, or you may be able to find a brick-and-mortar coding class near you. Another option you have is to search out an online coding class. All these options are great ways to introduce your child to the world of coding.
Coding is something that can be a hobby and a career. When you choose to introduce it to children, you need to approach it in a fun and easy to understand way. Because there are many components, it can quickly become overwhelming. Whether you choose to introduce and teach it yourself or enlist the help of an outside service, make sure it is age-appropriate and provides the foundational language needed to excel.
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