Teaching Kids to Code

We live in a digital age in which everyone has a computer. It is a part of our daily lives. Every student should have access to computers, smartphones, or tablets, because almost everything we do requires some form of programming.

The earlier we introduce coding to children, the more comfortable they will become with computers and technology, and the more successful they will become when presented with more challenging learning opportunities.

Learning programming empowers kids. Coding puts children in control of the computer, and through experimentation, builds mastery in sequencing skills, counting, problem solving, logical thinking, cause and effect, and critical thinking.

Some experts, like Jon Mattingly, co-founder of Kodable, thinks younger is better.

“We found that kids begin to understand logic, three to five step commands, and the difference between reality and fantasy, at the age of four. These are all important concepts for beginning to learn programming…Childhood and early adolescence are the critical age ranges for children to learn anything, including programming, because their brains are still developing and learning how to learn.”

Most agree that learning to code should start in early childhood and elementary school. Elementary students are often in the best age range because they are taught to learn logically and conceptually, and even if they don’t pursue a career in programming, they will have the ability to understand basic programming concepts and think logically through life.

Proponents of coding believe that teaching the basics now gives children an edge with future technology. The earlier we introduce children to coding, the more comfortable they will be when presented with more in-depth learning challenges in middle and high school. Also, early exposure to coding helps teach children how important it is to understand computers as the valuable tools they are rather than merely fun playthings. Computational thinking teaches you how to tackle large problems by breaking them down into a sequence of smaller, more manageable problems.

Coding teaches students to be organized, precise, and accurate, and these traits transfer onto many other careers. In about twenty years, the 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.

How widespread is the coding boom in school? Some statistics from Computer Science Education Week:

  • Nine in ten parents want their child to study computer science, but only one in four schools teach computer programming.
  • Computing makes up 70 percent of projected new jobs in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math).
  • Computing occupations are among the highest-paying jobs for new graduates. Yet fewer than 7% of college students graduate with a degree in computer science, and only 8% of STEM graduates are in computer science. That is why coding classes are needed for every major.

By 2020, employment in all computer occupations is expected to increase by 22%. Demand for software developers will be the strongest in this period, with increases ranging from 28% to 32%. That means that learning to code will be a natural path to jobs of the future. And schools are realizing that future starts today by teaching and understanding the language of computers.

Nasco has always been on the forefront of education, providing teachers tools to help educate their students. We encourage teachers, students, and parents to look through our great selection of coding books, kits, and robots at our website to help round out their coding curriculum.

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