Kids Can Code Too!

kids love coding

While coding jobs are highly demanded these days.

Coding might just be the basic skill required 10 years later for work, home or anything that helps solve certain tech related issues.

One of the most important objectives in education is to prepare students for their future careers. Over the last two decades, coding and programming have emerged as some of the most desirable skills for employers.

To adapt to changes in the landscape of the jobs market, schools should adjust their curriculum and incorporate coding

In fact, coding helps with curiosity, persistence, problem-solving, and critical thinking,

There has been an explosion of coding apps recently and it can be hard to sort through them all.

1. Coding is the new literacy
It’s no secret that children grow up with an almost innate ability to adapt to new technologies. The way they pick up smartphones, computers and games consoles seems like second nature – but it’s just the nature of being young. Our ability to quickly pick up complex or technical tasks diminishes with age. For example, the older you become the harder it is to learn a new language.

The same goes for technology use and, more precisely, coding. Today, the importance of learning to code rivals even that of reading and writing. It’s a core skill that can help a child develop a deeper understanding of how technology works. Given the extent to which technology shapes our lives, learning to code helps develop a better understanding of the world around us.

2. Prepare for the future jobs market
Schools have a responsibility to provide their students with all the tools and skills they need to succeed in the modern workplace. Increasingly, that means an ability to code. Glassdoor reported that eight of the top 25 jobs in the US are tech-based and require some level of coding proficiency. These don’t necessarily have to be computer programmers but include roles such as Data Analysts and Scientists.

Similarly, a 2016 Burning Glass report found seven million job openings that year which value coding, with roles such as computer programmer rising 12% faster than the market average. These roles are also among the best paid around. Jobs requiring coding pay $22,000 a year more on average than those that don’t.

There is little point in focusing on skills that leave students with limited options when it comes to hitting the jobs market. By incorporating coding into the curriculum, you hand children an essential tool for building a successful career.

3. Develop problem-solving skills
Coding can often be daunting. Presented with a significant problem, frustration can quickly build if you find yourself constantly walking down dead ends. But coding teaches a child that complex problems are simply a series of smaller problems that can be fixed in sequence. Coding can often be compared to hypothesis testing in science, particularly when testing whether a set of code will stand up and work correctly. Children will be taught to identify a problem, break the code down into segments and test each one, repairing faulty parts before moving onto the next problem.

It’s this mindset that makes great coders, and one that pupils will benefit from regardless of subject or circumstance.

4. Instill perseverance
To succeed in the method of hypothesizing, testing and refining, you need one characteristic more than any other – perseverance. Creating a set of code only to see it fail upon testing is disheartening, especially if the solution isn’t immediately obvious. But if at first you don’t succeed, try, try and try again.

Coding takes incredible levels of perseverance to try new things, test and find solutions to problems. It’s another vital life skill that students will draw upon for the rest of their lives.

5. Heighten language skills
Recent research for the University of Washington found that a natural aptitude for learning languages is a better predictor of coding proficiency than math. Instinctively, you might think there are strong comparisons between math and coding, but code is a language, and mastering it requires many of the same logical steps to be taken.

Code has a natural grammar and vocabulary to unlock. If you find a child is particularly good at it, you should also find their ability to learn new languages is heightened.

Most importantly, don’t just code, solve problems
One final piece of advice calls back to coding as predominantly a problem-solving exercise. Rather than focusing on building entire programmes, break the process down into many smaller steps.

Develop knowledge and proficiency of each line of code required to make up a more complex programme. Intentionally design bad code and challenge students to correct it. Jumble the order of syntaxes and semantics and test students on their ability to reorder them. These are all effective ways of teaching young people how to code.
Here are some applications that parents should consider introducing to their child.

CodeSpark Academy is an app for kids ages 4-10. It’s has a unique and fun way to teach kids to code with lovable characters “the Foos.” It also uses no words so kids don’t have to know how to read to use it, instead it has a variety of interactive learning activities including puzzles, games, projects, and printables. It even offers personalized daily activities based on their progress.

Crayola Create & Play is a fun app for kids up to age 5. While it does have a large coloring focus (it is Crayola after all) it is full of activities for kids. They can color with special effects, they can design, nurture, and interact with animated pets, they can create one of a kind masterpieces, and they can even try coding in the Discovery Classroom. The app is regularly updated so kids will never get bored.

Code Adventures is an app for kids 6+ that was rated “the best of the best” and is full of bright and colorful scenes with puzzles that feature the 5 basic programming categories. Kids help Aurora a lovable fuzzball to get back home. Each level offers an even greater logical challenge to solve by coding. There are various puzzle elements like flying platforms, movable bridges, ladders and portals making coding even more fun for kids.

Hopster Coding Safari is a fun app for preschoolers where they use coding to solve puzzles with animals around the world. They even advance to command-line mode and unlock many new levels to learn more skills and have even more fun. Some the storylines include helping a hungry monkey trying to get to a banana tree, or helping a lion back to its den.

Code Masters Wonderwood is ideal for preschool and kindergarten age children and it’s designed with 60 levels where kids also learn about the various jobs of the Wonderwood Four – Rose the police officer, Pasha the farmer, Max the astronaut, and Pika the firefighter. Kids help the characters navigate through the levels in the right direction and moving any obstacles in their way. I love that there are no in-app purchases and that there are two modes – help and non-help mode.

GoldieBlox: Adventures in Coding is a great app for kids ages 6-8 especially those who already love the GoldieBlox toy line. What I love about this app is that there are no in-app purchases, ever and it offers all kinds of fun puzzles. The storyline will draw kids in as the work to help Goldie and her friends by coding their way around town and they can even play minigames and earn stickers too. There’s even a sandbox mode where they can play endless puzzles at any level.

Nancy Drew Codes and Clues is made for kids ages 6-8 and it’s full of coding, reading, critical thinking, adventure, and fun. It’s a story-based hidden object mystery game, kids can choose disguises, find clues, and program their robot puppy to help solve the mystery. The coding challenges increase as the story goes along. There’s even bonus coding levels in the Obstacle Course mode as well.

Scratch Jr. is an iPad app for kids ages 5-7. It’s an easy drag and drop block format that allows kids to create animated stories where characters move, jump, dance, reappear, and disappear. Kids can also customize colors, sounds, and more.

Tynker is an app for kids over the age of 7 that also focuses on moving blocks of code around. Each block is a different coding concept. This app also has missions for kids to complete, they can learn by solving puzzles, and they can even build games, fly drones, and more.

Hopscotch is an app for kids ages 9-13 that has been downloaded over 12 million times with 33 million games created, so this is one tried and true app that kids love. With their open-ended tool, kids can create art, stories, and games and even publish them to the fully moderated community where other kids can play their games. They can even play games other kids have created and tweak and remix them. On top of that there are play along tutorials that teach kids how to make games like Pokemon Go, Crossy Road, and as kids improve the app will challenge them to create increasingly advanced games and apps.

My personal opinion is that coding should be taught in all schools. While it is not necessary nor realistic that all students become coders, it is important that they appreciate what computers do and how they do it. The best way I know of conveying the understanding is by having students code. Some students struggle to learn to code. However, without attempting to code, something essential is missing. After all, kids born today need to understand not just how to turn on a computer but how to write programs. Technology is all around, and kids are starting earlier and earlier learning programming languages. They’re great ways for children to build confidence and learn innovative thinking.

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