For many, the idea of helping young kids learn to code seems impossible. The simple task of asking children to sit down and study any subject is often a chore. However, there is a way to make learning coding and programming fun for them.
Coding and programming are logic-based skills that kids can absolutely learn that can also help foster their creativity. These skills can be learned through various fun and age-appropriate on-screen and off-screen activities that allow kids to develop conceptual knowledge typically found in a programming environment.
Programming isn't just the stereotypical IT and software development work most generally think about when it comes to coding. Apps, games, and web design all require some knowledge of coding, but it doesn't have to be boring. Not only can it become essential knowledge for future success for kids, but it can also act as a creative outlet for expression. Below, I can share how learning and programming can be fun for kids and why it's important.
Is Learning Coding and Programming Fun for Kids?
Have you ever watched a kid get excited about completing a puzzle, or spend hours trying to beat a challenging level on a video game?
During these activities, children develop problem-solving skills, pattern recognition, perseverance, and critical thinking. Yet they don't see what they are doing as learning. The same can be applied to learning coding and programming.
In fact, one study done on five and six-year-olds in a programming setting found that they not only acquired mathematical concepts and problem-solving skills, but they actually enjoyed the learning experience when they participated in age-appropriate activities and games centered around the subject matter.
Much like building a puzzle, a lot of the appeal of coding is the reward of seeing the code finally come to life. Instead of just playing that challenging level of a video game, they get to imagine and create their own.
Why Is It Important to Make Learning Fun?
Have you ever fallen asleep in a class or zoned out when someone was telling you something you had no interest in?
That's because it's extremely hard to focus on something that you find boring. There is extensive research to show that students of all ages remember information better when they are having fun while learning.
On top of that, cognitive psychology studies have shown that boredom, stress, and anxiety in learning situations activate filters in the brain that block information from entering the brain's areas of memory storage, essentially putting a halt to learning.
No matter what you are learning, if the process is boring, it can kill your interest fast. The same goes for kids. If your kid is curious about coding, you want to keep it that way by making learning as fun as possible.
Fun Ways to Teach Kids Coding and Programming
Teaching coding to kids doesn't necessarily mean sitting them down at a computer and running through modules online. Many of the concepts in programming will be new to kids and should be introduced to them step-by-step.
Instead of a formal course or program, start them out with small, fun activities on and off the screen. This way, you can introduce them to the essential concepts and skills to be a successful coder while also keeping their interest piqued.
Tips for Making Coding and Programming Fun for Kids to Learn
Here are some tips for making learning coding and programming fun for kids.
Take Learning Off the Screen
Learning some of the skills involved in programming can happen much earlier than you may think. Activities that teach problem-solving, critical thinking, and cause and effect set kids up to learn basic coding concepts such as debugging before they even know what coding is.
There is no better method for children to learn than through play. The same is true for coding.
Minecraft is a popular game that can be played on a computer or gaming console. It is a fun way to introduce kids to different coding elements since it uses a simple 1x1 block structure to make up the world and objects in the game.
There are also sites like code.org that teach coding to kids using Minecraft.
Build With Legos
Using Legos is a great way to introduce some of the most basic coding concepts to your kids, such as organizational and problem-solving skills, identifying different components, pattern recognition, and blending logic and creativity.
For toddlers and preschoolers, start them out by sorting Legos by color or size. As they get older, have them create repeating patterns or copy patterns you create for them.
Once patterns are understood, you can move on to assigning meanings to patterns. For example, a single green brick represents a 0, and a red brick represents a 1. This is a great way to get started with binary code.
Watch Videos Online on Coding Fun Games
There is a reason video-based sites like YouTube and TikTok do so well. We all learn in different ways, and many of us benefit from having a moving visual to break things down. If you watch enough coding TikToks and YouTube videos, their algorithms will start promoting those types of videos to you and your kids.
YouTube has a wealth of information in a variety of styles to learn how to code. If your kid is trying to grasp binary code or loops, trust us, there's a video for it. While you could do your best to explain each coding concept to your kid, pulling up an animated video like this one makes learning complex concepts a bit more fun and memorable.
Learn Coding With Them
Or better yet, let them teach you. You don't have to be an expert in coding to listen to your child talk about it. It's actually more beneficial if you let them teach coding to you.
Research has shown that learning by teaching is one of the most effective strategies for developing a deep and longer-lasting understanding of concepts and material.
As your kid is learning new concepts in coding, they will want someone to share it with. Taking time to ask them questions and learn from them can be a fun and motivating factor that keeps them learning.
In reality, code is the language of the future. Yes, learning to code prepares your child for potential future career success, but it also improves creativity, problem-solving abilities, and a variety of other talents.
You can't go wrong by encouraging your child's passion for coding. Most kids are eager to learn if the material is presented in a fun and captivating way. Plus, making learning enjoyable can help the material keep in their minds more efficiently and for a longer period of time. Begin with some of the suggestions above and remember, keep it fun!
More Inspiration to Help Kids Code
- Tips for Parents to Teach Kids How to Code
- Code Ninjas Program - Honest Review from a Parent
- Python for Kids Tips
- How to Explain Coding to Kids
- Minecraft Coding for Kids