Tuesday, May 14

How to teach coding to kids?

Most people (especially developers) think – how can children code? When we say coding for kids, we’re not talking about long complicated thousands of lines of code or building tons of libraries and packages. We are talking about the simple stuff that kids can create and enjoy, such as creating small websites, regular day-to-day apps, games, and solving simple mathematical problems. The goal here is to primarily teach them problem-solving through applicative logical approach and algorithmic thinking.

Kids today are growing up engaging with a lot of gadgets around and it is important for them to understand how these things work behind the scenes. All across the world kids are being taught coding like it is a second language. Getting kids into top quality coding classes as early as possible will help them in their growing years; coding involves both left brain and right brain activity, which reaps a lot of benefits in the long run.

First, start with the simple stuff which is highly visual like drag and drop interfaces. It teaches kids the principles of construction, flow, types, basic data, and thinking in sequence. One can use interfaces like Thunkable, Scratch, etc. Kids can build simple games using these drag and drop block-based coding interfaces.

Second, start with a simple programming language like JavaScript or Python. Both these are very good introductory programming languages. Python is especially good because it is one language that is used very extensively everywhere by industry and by academicians. The language teaches good principles of coding such as indentation, syntax, and readable code. Students can finish with a decent project like a simulation game of alien invasion.

Third, begin a strong typed language like C++ which is more complex, and start the process of learning coding with low-level languages. Or advance more into the current course of Python and work on slightly more complex projects involving multiple ranges of data. This gives a complete idea to kids which in turn enables them to spinoff into any level of coding with both low-level and high-level languages.

In the process,

  • Explain every concept very clearly and with as close to home an example as possible. If you take effort in knowing what the kid is interested in and what the kid likes and dislikes, you can always find an example that is relevant to a specific kid that you can use to teach a concept.
  • Use good editors which are not cluttered and are simple and clean for kids to do things easily.
  • Use the principles of formatting and commenting on code at this age itself to inculcate these habits strongly.
  • Above all, don’t forget to enjoy the process but at the same time be disciplined.

For example, at UnicMinds, we provide a range of coding courses for kids, tweens, and teenagers. All the curriculum is integrated with subject knowledge that they’re learning in their academics and we involve children in exercises and programming tasks that require them to think and then apply the mathematical theory learnt in school. If required, we teach them and enhance their practical application of the mathematical theory required to solve a programming task.

Engaging in a full breadth of logical thinking and creative thinking exercises will provide a well-rounded development for children to develop useful skills for life-term. One on one mentoring and guidance through these coding projects and learning will build confidence and give them the tools they need to make their own ideas and creativity come to life, and build confidence with how things work.

True programming is a matter of self-challenge, creativity, and problem-solving. It is very innate to the ability and passion to create and solve problems, and kids should definitely learn some coding at a young age to always keep thinking about everything they look at in life from that lens.

Hope this is useful, thank you.