The first question that pops up in our head when we think of coding for kids, is, “How do we teach kids how to program?”. Teaching kids programming is easy. The secret about how to teach coding to kids is to teach programming as a creative activity for any kid to engage in. While writing data processing algorithms might not appeal to kids, programming music, designing games and websites, writing simple code in softwares, definitely will interest kids! You can teach kids how to program with ease by the end of this step-by-step guide.
Let’s discuss 7 easy steps to learn how to teach coding to kids.
1. Define Coding Step by Step
It is ideal to teach coding step by step. The first step is to define it to kids. This will act as their guiding principle or rule of thumb to keep in mind when they are confused. Go basic, use analogies, use examples – explain the concept in simple language that kids can relate to and understand.
For example, to answer the question “What is coding and how do you do it?”, explain it this way:
A code is an instruction given to a computer. This instruction makes the computer behave accordingly. Several codes written together become a set of commands. The commands make the computer undertake an activity in a step-by-step process. Each code represents a step. Therefore, the codes written by you lead to a specific outcome, that your computer or gadget generates. All the buttons you press on your gadgets lead to a code being fed into the gadget, therefore executing a task in a game, or moving to a new video. The choices are endless!
Coding for newbies seems daunting at first. Once you break it down into such simple and sequential sentences, it becomes easy for kids to understand.
2. Talk About Coding Languages
Move to the next aspect of coding basics for kids.
To do this, answer the next natural question that pops up in the minds of kids, “If coding is instructing a computer, what language do we use to communicate with them?”
Explain that languages take many forms and functions. This means that there are many different languages in the computer world, like they are in the human world. Humans learn one or more human languages, and similarly, they also learn one or more computer languages.
The way humans speak to different people, in the language the people understand, humans talk to different gadgets in the language the gadget understands.
Keep in mind that when it comes to coding basics for kids, Scratch should be the first step of their journey.
Scratch: Before you teach Python to kids, or more complex languages, teach them the simple ones. Therefore our first computer programming tutorial to a child who is 7 years to 15 years of age, must be Scratch. This block-based coding language offers a visual learning experience for children. It enables children to drag-and-drop blocks of code to create characters and games. Scratch is a great coding platform for beginners.
Java: Java is the most popular and widely-used language. The popular and lovable game Minecraft was created by this code. Lua is another such code that is used in Roblox – another great game that kids love!
Python: Teach Python to kids next since it is more complex. Once they have a strong foundation in simpler codes, they will be able to learn and write Python better.
3. When you teach kids how to code – Build their interest and excitement!
Grasping the attention of young minds is key to teaching them new concepts. As explained above, talk about the different languages they know and video games that involve coding. This will have them hooked and intrigued. You will connect with them as an educator. It enables you to successfully and efficiently teach kids programming.
If they are not interested in gaming or languages, share with them how data science and sports is related – or how pressing a button on their gadgets implements a code, and brings about the action they want. This could be as simple as pressing the on and off button on their phone.
4. The right coding platforms for beginners
Introduce kids to computer programming tutorials.
For young kids: MIT’s Scratch is a free programming tool. It is designed especially for kids and runs in all modern Web browsers. Pick similar courses and tutorials that have visual styles and captivate a child’s attention.
Most computer courses and programming tools designed to teach kids how to program involve Scratch, and Scratch based visual approaches. Since Scratch has blocks of code that won’t fit together if they do not get along computationally, making syntax errors is impossible. This makes great Scratch perfect for younger kids who can’t type well.
For older kids: Once young kids learn Scratch, they would want to upgrade to a new and advanced language. They eventually outgrow the basics. Coding for teens and pre-teens involves teaching them programming languages like Python. It makes for the perfect first programming since it involves simple syntax.
5. Writing codes is the way to go when teaching kids how to program
Computer programming tutorials that involve making kids code themselves is key. As an educator, there is only so much you can explain and talk about to teach kids programming. Hands-on code writing and regular practice equips a child with holistic learning.
Python is great for kids who want to practice since it is interactive. Subsequently, it encourages experimentation with the instructions. Make kids create their own games with different coding softwares. They can move to web and app development with time. The key is streamlining their practice sessions in a step-by-step process and assisting them when they hit roadblocks.
6. Teach kids programming on a computer of their own
Are you teaching a group of kids? Is it a personal tutoring session?
Either way, push for each student accessing a computer or laptop of their own. The same way kids need their own football or guitar while learning the sport and instrument, kids need their own gadget to learn coding on.
A simple bare-bones PC is a good starter kit for young students. Additions would of course include a mouse, keyboard and monitor. Try to keep Chromebooks, iPads, and tablets at bay since Python tends to get difficult to run on these gadgets.
7. Coding for Newbies is different from Computer Science
If you have an academic background in computer science or software development, you tend to think on a higher scale and have bigger concepts at the helm of your thoughts. As educators, we love to share our knowledge with other minds and explore thoughts.
While it’s a lot of fun and helpful on a different level, kids begin coding in the shallow end of the pool.
Here are some topics you can explain at a later stage to a #YoungKeenCoder:
- Design patterns
- SQL databases
- Other languages that are domain-specific
- Object-oriented programming
- Data structures other than besides lists, arrays, hash maps and dictionaries
- Networking protocols that go beyond easy HTTP requests
Frequently Asked Questions
- How do I start teaching my child to code?
Introduce them to basics, games and live videos. Receive their feedback and replan your approach accordingly. Begin with Scratch since it is a child-friendly and fun platform!
- How do I teach my child to code online?
- Is coding good for kids?
Coding develops logical thinking, creativity, problem-solving skills and develops education and job opportunities for them.
- What is the best programming language for a child to learn?
Scratch is the best programming language for kids since it has a graphic-game based approach. It has blocks of code animated into a game format, which are required to be matched into sets. It builds logic, creative thinking and problem-solving skills in children.