How to Get Kids involved in Computer Science & Coding6 min read

How can you get kids involved in computer science and coding from a young age? Here are some easy steps and reasons why it’s beneficial to introduce kids to computer science.

As the world relies more heavily on technology and computers than ever before, coding is both literally and figuratively a new language to learn. By 2020, there will be 1.4 million jobs in computer science, but only 400,000 computer science students. This means, it is important not only for individuals to choose that they want to code, but also for parents to make an effort to involve their children in learning to code from a young age.

When kids are young, they are generally receptive to learning new skills, especially if the teaching is made fun and to feel game-like. With computer science and coding, it’s very possible to gamify the topic because you can literally make games!

It’s never too early to start learning to code, but how can you sway kids to be interested?

Credit: Unsplash

Why Get Involved at Young Age in Computer Science?

Children have more free time on their hands than any other demographic group, which means, they have a great opportunity cost to wasting their time.

When you guide children towards learning skills that will help them in their future, you’re setting them up for success at an early age. There are so many benefits of coding that are only seen down the line in a young coder’s life.

The Future of Coders

1. College

For starters, the ability to code is a competitive advantage over other students during the application process. It shows universities that a student can remain committed, resilient, and is a good learner.

2. Start a Company

At the basis of all high-tech companies is coders. Whether it’s an application, website or service, coding runs various systems and allows a young child to grow into a business owner, if he or she wishes to.

3. Enter the Workforce

If a child really falls in love with coding and showcases their skills, they can enter the workforce as a freelancer or employee and share their abilities. 
Work Anywhere: Since coding is a universal language, it permits a coder to be able to work anywhere in the world. Unlike becoming a lawyer or doctor where one has to pass certain requirements based on their location, coders simply need an internet connection and some hardware to do their job.

Earning Potential: Coders are in high demand and are granted jobs with high earning potential because the need for coding is continuously growing as society relies on technology in every field.

Photo by J. Kelly Brito

How to Get Kids Involved in Computer Science

Just like every other subject, kids need to be introduced, taught, and supported throughout the process of learning and growing. Since coding is a complex and ever-changing subject to master, many resources are available to ease children into the new world of computer science.

Here are a few ways to begin teaching computer science to kids:

1. Coding Toys

STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) toys are joining the ranks of art supplies and board games as a common type of toy to keep kids entertained. These tech toys often teach the concept of logic. From building blocks to robotics and STEM kits, there are many options to get kids interested in computer science through these types of toys.

For example, a particularly popular and entry-level coding toy is Lego Mindstorms. Developed by Lego, Lego Mindstorms is a hardware and software system that develops programmable robots based on the building blocks of legos. So, kids can build physically with legos and then use the software to learn logic and how programming works.

2. Coding Games

Whether kids are going to build their own games or play games that teach coding, there’s a variety of online and offline software that teaches these skills on a tablet, mobile device or computer. For example, with platforms like Scratch (developed by MIT), children can create animations, games and stories and then easily share their creations. The variety of apps and websites teach coding languages like HTML, CSS, JavaScript, Python and more.

3. Online Tutorials

If a child is showing particular interest in the subject, why not get them involved in an online course that builds knowledge with each lesson?

A good example of one such course is Tekkieuni, where there are weekly 2 hour open class session with 10 students for 9 months. With project-based learning and team-driven assignments, students get to learn while building teamwork skills.

Credit: Unsplash

Myths & Benefits of Coding:

Since technology has both its pros and cons, some parents are wary of involving their children at a young age in such a technologically advanced subject. With all the benefits that coding offers, there comes myths about its downsides, but let’s take a quick look at the myths and benefits.

Myths of Coding:

1. Too Much Screen Time:

While it’s true that screen time should be cause of concern, coding doesn’t have to be done only on a computer. The real essence of computer science comes down to problem-solving, so it’s possible to learn coding with pen and paper and share ideas before having to get behind a screen.

2. You Have to Be Good at Math:

Math and coding are interconnected, but it doesn’t mean that a child has to be a mathematician to learn to code. In fact, there are more words than numbers in coding, and it’s always possible to have resources available for when the math poses a challenge.

3. Only One Coding Language is Best:

Each coding language serves a different purpose. While Python and JavaScript are more flexible languages in terms of accessibility to learn on a web browser, it doesn’t make them better than another language. That’s why it’s also useful to focus on coding concepts like logic and problem-solving to teach the fundamentals behind the languages first.

Benefits of Coding:

1. Teaches Patience:

Like learning a new language, coding teaches patience. More often than not, coding takes time and while it may first seem difficult, it becomes easier with practice and teaches the value of resilience and overcoming hurdles to achieve greatness.

2. Fosters Creativity:

Coding opens the doors to so many possibilities, like game-building, application construction, website design, to name a few. With the basics of coding, children have the ability to choose their interests and create something out of nothing.

3. Problem-Solving Skills:

With coding, kids learn how to see the big picture and break it apart into smaller problems to find the root of the problem. Since there is typically more than one way to solve a problem, coding teaches the methods by which to assess challenges and solve them.

In a Nutshell

Put simply, there are so many benefits of getting a child involved in coding from a young age. Not only are the job prospects for their future a very positive upside, but coding also teaches kids many useful life skills from a young age, including patience, resilience, problem-solving, and empathy. And, why not set kids up for success from an early age when it’s made to be easy with today’s variety of games, toys, and online courses for guided learning?

While breeding creativity in a useful way, coding can open the door for children to grow, explore and create in unique ways that are fun and educational!

How to Get Kids involved in Computer Science & Coding6 min read
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