Children have access to technology we hadn’t even heard of when we were growing up and within parenting circles, technology often gets a bad reputation.
However, we need to embrace the fact that technology is advancing, and schools are advancing with it.
We are starting to see coding and programming integrated into the classroom as early as kindergarten, continuing to Grade 12, and then well into high school.
Learning about coding and programming enhances learning, cognitive development, mathematics, and problem-solving skills.
At home, we can get with the times and help our children develop skills that will be useful in the world — both today and tomorrow.
The Cognitive Benefits of Coding and Programming for Children
Aside from being able to do really cool things with technology, coding, and programming can advance soft skills as well, such as emotional intelligence, creativity, and the ability to work well in teams.
With coding, children are challenged to find ways to make their desired outcome a reality. As soon as they get started, children are immediately learning how to problem solve. They need to find solutions to every problem and learn how to categorize big problems into smaller, more manageable solutions.
Coding and programming involve keeping multiple centers of the brain moving at once — understanding syntax, conditionals, and loops — and keeping them stored in your memory for next time.
The ability to code and program technology will improve memory and spatial reasoning, which will help children succeed in school, and then in their careers no matter where they land.
Coding and Programming Resources for Children
So, how do we incorporate coding and programming into our lives?
An easy way to get your child started with coding is through apps. There are several that can be downloaded on smartphones and tablets that are completely free.
An all-time favorite is Lightbot: Code Hour, which involves tackling puzzles through coding. To keep things exciting, children can save their own slots and move up levels each time, all the while collecting challenge stars.
Due to increasing demand, there are plenty of camps, after-school programs, and online courses available to children.
Check-in with your local libraries, as many offer free children’s classes to introduce them to coding and programming.
Code.org is a non-profit organization offering fun, free, interactive online activities and courses for children of all ages.
Another great tool to learn to code books. Programming languages are complex and can be hard for young minds to grasp.
Luckily, authors like Jason R. Briggs, have written best-sellers that teach children what it is all about.
The nice thing about books is that they are easy to incorporate into quiet time or bedtime reading times. Check out Python for Kids: A Playful Introduction to Programming for more information.
Tips for Parents and Caregivers
Children ask a lot of questions about the inner-working of our mysterious world. It is true that these questions can bring us to tears when all we want is to cook dinner in peace, and it is also true that these questions can provide opportunities for learning.
How is everything designed, invented, and created? How does the remote turn the television on? How does Google Maps know how to give us directions?
With coding and programming skills, children feel empowered to find these answers on their own.
Ask your child’s teacher how coding and programming are being incorporated into the classroom, and then find community programs, apps, or online tools to take it a step further.
You know your child, how they learn best, and what motivates them to acquire new skills.
Try out some coding apps, and pick up programming books at your local library to find what suits your child best.
The Bottom Line
Coding and programming switch the learning centers of the brain. It improves memory, problem-solving skills, and more. It can also improve emotional resilience and teamwork skills amongst groups of children, which will help them as they move forward in the world.
And have you ever met a child who doesn’t love robots? Of course not!
With coding, they can learn how to control a robot. There is no way of knowing how technology will advance by the time our children grow up. Learning coding and programming skills at any age will help them stay ahead of the curve.