Think your kids are too young to learn to code? Think again.
Coding (also called programming or developing) is telling a computer, app, phone or website what you want it to do. Some educators and experts are calling it the ‘new literacy’—a subject so important that every child needs to know the basics to excel in our rapidly changing world.
Four- and five-year-olds can learn the foundations of coding and computer commands before they can even write and spell words. Older kids can learn to code through classes, mentors and online tutorials (see below for learn-to-code resources for all ages).
Learning to code prepares kids for the world we live in today. There are tons of jobs and occupations that use code directly, like web designers, software developers and robotics engineers, and even more where knowing how to code is a huge asset—jobs in manufacturing, nanotechnology or information sciences. However, for most kid-coding advocates, reasons for learning to code run much deeper than career prep.
Here are some reasons why you should teach your child to code:
Problem solving and critical thought
As discussed briefly above, learning coding techniques also helps children to develop critical thinking skills and problem solving processes that are not only important in computer science, but also in life. It teaches them how to look at the bigger picture, and to break down big challenges into smaller and more manageable tasks. Other than just relying on environmental perception, they are able to make logical connections which will help them learn how to properly analyse different situations. This type of skill is necessary for everyone to have, not just those who want to pursue software engineering in the future. Other than it being professionally applicable, it also helps one to achieve big and overwhelming goals in their lives. You get to think of the smaller steps you need to take in order to get you closer to your goals, which gives you more drive and focus.
Kids learn better and faster when they’re young
Teaching your child how to code when they are still young is important, because kids have an easier time learning skills than adults do – their minds are flexible and open, and learning code is like learning a language, far easier when you are young. Given the sheer pace of innovation and the growing connectedness of our devices, houses, workplaces and potentially ultimately bodies, it makes sense to take advantage of the natural inclination that children have to learn faster and better when they are younger. I’m not just talking about coding in and of itself, but also logic-based thinking – ‘procedural literacy’, which is an ability to think about and understand processes in the world.
Connected devices are already reshaping our world
Kids also need to learn how to code because computers and connected devices are what will shape their world as they grow up, just as physics, Math, Chemistry and Biology shape our world right now. In about twenty years, an inability to code or at least to understand logic-based thinking to some level will be just as crippling as illiteracy and innumeracy is today. Better to start equipping your child with these skills as early as possible.