When you code, you tell a computer what to do in the programming language – a language they can understand and process. All our favorite applications and websites have been made possible through coding. Anyone can learn to develop applications and create websites and software by learning to code.
What is Coding for kids?
“Coding” is something that most people associate with a screen full of complex numbers, letters, and symbols. But what exactly is coding? In simple terms, “coding” is how we communicate with computers. Computers have a language of their own, called programming languages.
Difference between Coding and Programming
Many people use the terms coding and programming interchangeably. However, they are different in several ways:
|Terminology||Deals with writing code in a language that humans can read and machines can process||Deals with using certain standards to create the outline and structure for the program’s code before the code is written|
|Tools||Uses tools like text editors (Notepad, Visual Studio Code, Atom, etc)||Additional tools such as analysis tools, debuggers, assemblers, modeling frameworks, and algorithms are required|
|Level of Knowledge||Coders need basic knowledge of a programming language and its syntax.||Programmers need a lot more knowledge. They need to know how to create and work with algorithms, design websites, debug and test codes, and manage projects.|
|End product||At the end of their work, coders have a simple solution – a working code output.||The end product for a programmer is a running application or software.|
Coding/Programming for Kids
So how is something that even adults think of as complicated going to be made easy for kids? The answer is simple – anyone can learn to code. At different levels of understanding, of course, but regardless, children can also learn coding.
Coding for kids is an excellent idea for many reasons. In a world where digital literacy is a required skill, coding is a skill set that will benefit children in the long run. Beyond technical skills, a child will develop several soft skills from learning to code. Some of the benefits of learning to code are:
- Language of the future: Technology is now an indispensable part of our lives. Being digitally literate is a necessity. Introducing a child to coding at a young age will help set the foundation for learning programming in the future. Once your child learns a programming language, they will eventually hone their skills as they grow older. This gives them an experienced edge over an adult beginner.
- Helps in academics: While your child may not need coding in their lessons, studies have found that the process of coding helps improve problem-solving and math skills. There are many academic benefits of learning to code. These technical skills are transferable to other contexts as well.
- Encourages persistence: Coding requires perseverance to master. Your child will face many ups and downs in their coding journey. But this helps to create persistence, which is a quality that will come in handy in both their personal and professional life.
- Career-building skill: Once your child learns to code, it equips them with a skill that will set them apart from those who don’t have the same skill. Basic coding knowledge is a requirement for half of the highest-paying jobs in America, and the demand continues to grow. Having coding skills has virtually no downsides. Having the ability to design websites, applications, and software from scratch will serve an individual well in any corporate or professional setting. For children, this is a skill that you can consider an investment in their future.
Coding is an essential skill that your child will greatly benefit from having. Any child can learn the basics of coding. And rest easy because numerous places provide coding websites for kids.
Coding Programs for Kids
Many online programs provide teaching services for kids to learn to code. Some of the recommended programming languages/coding programs for kids are listed below.
Target age: Between ages 8 and 16
Scratch is an open-source educational programming language developed at MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) by Mitch Resnick and patented by the Lifelong Kindergarten Group. It is a block-based programming language with an intuitive and highly visual interface. SCRATCH is specially designed for new coders and kids, making it the perfect tool to learn code as a beginner. Features:
- SCRATCH uses bright colors, labels, and characters to make learning fun and engaging for kids.
- Through SCRATCH, kids can develop art, animation, games, etc. SCRATCH simplifies coding so that something as complex as coding becomes fun and creative.
- The risk of technical and syntax errors and the frustration of editing the error are all part of the coding experience. But SCRATCH shifts focus from those technicalities to learning.
PROS: Perfect for new coders, simple to use
CONS: Other users can remake work since all SCRATCH products are uploaded onto their website.
Ages: 8 and above
Google’s BLOCKLY is another visual block-based programming language developed for kids. It is quite similar to SCRATCH in its block-based coding and drag-and-drop system. BLOCKLY also uses bright visuals and colors to engage its users. However, unlike SCRATCH, BLOCKLY is built on pre-existing coding languages.
Ages: 9 and above
Created in 1991, Python is used mainly for web and software development. It uses English-like syntax for building applications, user interfaces, and operating systems. For older kids, Python is a great option to learn to code. Learning Python at a young age will also help them become skilled at using the language once they are older.
PROS: English-like syntax, readable
CONS: Can be slow with complex tasks.
Hypertext markup language (HTML) is the standard coding language for web pages to show information. Since its introduction in 1990, programmers have used HTML to format online content, pictures, and videos. HTML programs websites to be displayed in a particular way for an optimal user experience.
PROS: Easy for web development, multiple browsers supported
CONS: Requires a large amount of code
Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) specify the website’s style. You can code the page layout, color, background, font size, and many other elements through CSS. CSS helps you to design the aesthetic appeal of websites. This is a simple language that your child can take up to design websites.
PROS and CONS are similar to HTML.
Java was created in 1995, after HTML. It is an “object-oriented” coding language that uses English-based commands. It develops applications for computers or servers and mini-applications for websites. Most designers use Java to design mobile applications and video games on Android operating systems. It was also created as a simple language for beginners to pick up quickly, making it a good option for kids.
PROS: Platform independent, easy to learn and maintain
CONS: Verbose syntax
- C Language
C Language consists of just 32 simple keywords, making it a low-level coding type and one of the easiest programming languages. Thus it is an excellent choice for kids to learn coding from it. It helps in scripting embedded systems, network drivers, and artificial intelligence.
PROS: High-speed and efficient, dynamic memory allotment, independent of platform
CONS: Very low-level
Like Java, C++ is also an object-oriented programming language. It expands on the C language to execute more complex tasks. C++ organizes and stores information in groups for fast processing in complex programs.
PROS are similar to C.
CONS: Pointers are a difficult concept to learn in C++
Choosing the Right Coding Class for your Kid
Apart from the list given above, plenty of other sites provide classes and courses for your kid to learn to code. Keep in mind some of these indicators of a good coding class to make sure you make the right choice:
- Value: Most coding classes are expensive. The price tag may be a put-off initially, but the price reflects the quality of coding classes. Consider the investment in a good, high-quality course.
- Active Learning: Coding classes should include plenty of hands-on practical lessons with proper guidance from instructors.
- Leveled classes: Coding is not a concept that your child will be able to learn in one year. A good course will provide age-appropriate teaching levels for your child to learn at a steady pace.
- Instructors: The course instructor should be well-versed and qualified to teach a coding class.
- Curriculum: Opt for a class that has a well-rounded yet varied syllabus.
All in all, coding is a skill that anyone can learn at any age or level of experience. All it takes is some guidance and a little bit of perseverance. As listed earlier, there are plenty of benefits to starting your child on the path of code and programming early on. For children, coding is an outlet for them to express their creativity and develop a healthy relationship with technology. Through coding, your child could discover a special skill that becomes a lifelong passion, or acquire a skill that will benefit them for years to come. Take the step to equip your child with this special skill set, and enroll them in a quality coding class today!