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Coding is one of the most marketable skills in the world. As demand for experts rises, your kids can benefit by receiving a head start. If they acquire a passion for it now, they could cultivate it into a rewarding hobby or career. Modern children start regular interaction with technology from a young age, making it easier to introduce them to coding. What is the best way of getting them involved without making it sound complex or dull?
The Benefits of Coding To Kids
Coding effectively sharpens your child’s critical thinking skills, which are applicable beyond the world of programming. Coders tend to view problems in their daily lives from different perspectives before choosing the most logical solution.
Critical thinking is also associated with problem-solving, another skill that proficient coders have. You can think of coding as a puzzle that becomes easier to solve once they get better at identifying and debugging errors. These problem-solving skills are also applicable in other personal and professional situations.
Another benefit of coding is the expansion of your child’s creativity. After learning to create apps, websites, games, and other tech solutions, they can expand their skills into more challenging fields. Examples are emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence, robotics, augmented reality, cloud computing, nanotechnology, and stem cell research.
Most founders of successful SaaS companies encourage the inclusion and promotion of coding in the K-12 curriculum. The other crucial benefit is that it improves communication skills. Coding utilizes programming languages such as Python, Java, HTML, C#, Perl, and Go. They’re similar to traditional languages in that they simplify complex concepts.
How Technology Companies Encourage Kids to Code
Most tech companies understand that intuitiveness boosts early adoption. That’s why they strive to create child-friendly solutions. A good example is Microsoft’s tools and programs that introduce fun elements to coding. One of them is Microsoft Small Basic, which teaches kids the BASIC programming language.
Microsoft also encourages children to create games for its Windows and XBOX platforms. Their programs use visually stimulating elements instead of typing code. For instance, the Kodu Game Lab allows them to manipulate a 3D environment using game controllers.
The Minecraft Hour of Code tutorials is another practical resource that targets children who can read and write but can’t yet code. Minecraft allows users to create algorithms by choosing pre-written instructions.
Although not explicitly designed for children, Microsoft Touch Develop is another beginner-friendly software. It’s effective for creating apps for smartphones, tablets, and other touchscreen devices. Finally, Microsoft Research offers Code Hunt, a game-like program for users with a basic understanding of Java and C#. This software rewards player with points and new levels for identifying missing code.
How to Make Coding Fun for Kids
Coding is a versatile subject that might elicit unpredictable reactions from children depending on how you introduce it. These tips will make the process more enjoyable:
- Integrate coding with their passion
Children are more likely to take up and enjoy coding if it’s a part of their creative pursuits. In the past, programming had a stereotypical association with nerds whose interests were science, math, and problem-solving. Although these subjects are crucial, kids can still learn coding concepts from fun activities.
They include gaming, drawing, playing with legos, and solving puzzles. Their engagement level rises if you emphasize creativity over the duller aspects of formal training. Be careful not to make them feel like it’s a chore. Once they understand the basic concepts, it’s essential to let them pursue creative applications.
- Turn coding into an adventure
Curiosity is a vital ingredient of coding success. Kids are more likely to sharpen their coding skills if they strongly desire to know what happens next. Most iconic tech founders achieved success by deviating from the tried and tested path. They used their expertise to try out new ideas and create life-changing products.
Similarly, young learners should explore the extent of their newly acquired coding skills. They can use various online resources, including tablets, smartphones, and web-based apps. An example is Codecademy, which offers free online courses for kids aged 12 or older.
- Embrace coding games
There’s no shortage of free online coding games for children of all ages. These apps are appropriate for introducing them to the field of programming without feeling like they’re studying. Popular games and platforms include Blockly, Scratch, Codemonkey, CodeCombat, Kodable, Robocode, Swift Playground, and Codewars.
There are several other online gaming options that your kids can explore. Most have bright colors, attractive graphics, and intuitive controls that improve engagement. Some like Scratch go the extra mile of providing a vibrant community that enables interaction with other beginner programmers. Your kids can share their coding projects, receive inspiration, and learn new concepts in a safe and friendly space.
- Help your kids find coding mentors
Tutorials and online resources are effective at equipping your kids with coding skills. However, a mentor gives them several practical tips that will benefit them as they pursue a career in programming. They assist beginners to navigate roadblocks and encourage them to attempt more complex challenges whenever they achieve their goals.
They also help your kids address various concerns about real-life applications of coding. Examples are future trends, the most suitable career options, and the fields that offer the best work-life balance. Mentors can be your friends, colleagues, older students, and experienced programmers that volunteer their time.
- Turn coding into a social activity
Contrary to popular belief, coding achieves better results when done through teamwork. Most software organizations employ several programmers to create their products, which requires lots of coordination. Pair programming is another popular option for fast and high-quality results.
You can introduce these concepts to your kids while still young to prepare them for collaborations as their skills improve. They’re more likely to remain passionate about coding if they have a network of classmates and friends with similar interests. Various online resources also help with social coding. A good example is Microsoft’s MakeCode, a platform that allows kids to switch from block-based to text-based commands.
- Bond with your kids through coding
It’s never too late to acquire coding skills. You can easily fall in love with the profession while helping your child get better at their hobby. This opportunity is perfect for spending quality time while creating memories that you will cherish. You can also share notes on overcoming various challenges and celebrate milestones together.
Your kids are more likely to commit to coding if they know you understand their journey. They feel reassured if you face and overcome coding struggles together. You can set aside a few hours every weekend to catch up on your progress and help each other with any problems.
These tips will help your kids enjoyably develop highly marketable skills. In addition to the fun programs we’ve discussed, they will also need more traditional resources such as textbooks and video tutorials. These tools should be readily available if they want in-depth explanations of various programming concepts. At times, other distractions will make them take a break from coding. Your objective should be to support their hobbies rather than compel them. They must express and act on their interests without feeling pressured.