Coding is considered a foundational literacy skill for the digital age. It is just like learning about reading and writing, but instead of reading and writing paragraphs of a story, children are reading and writing in computer code. It is comparable to learning a whole new language!
When children learn to code, they are also learning several important 21st-century concepts – and this can lead to some of the top careers today. The skills that children learn when learning to code are also very versatile and transferable across learning, subjects, and careers. These include creativity, critical thinking, problem-solving, writing, and math. It also helps in building additional soft skills like perseverance, resilience, and communication skills.
A key to success and growth in coding is to start early. It helps them to build these transferable skills from an early age. This is definitely something that kids can start learning at home through simple things that you can teach at home.
In this article, you will learn how coding can support the growth and learning of these different future-ready skills. CoderZ is a great way to learn coding for kids.
Coding is another language
Coding is like learning a new language, except instead of learning French or Spanish or Mandarin, your child is learning how to communicate with technology in languages like HTML, Java, and Python. The same benefits of learning a new language apply to when kids learn coding: increased memory capacity, critical thinking and problem solving, the ability to multi-task, better listening skills, and increased level of concentration.
Just like how learning a new language is easy when you are younger, this holds true for coding as well. Learning to code expands your child’s verbal and written skills. When they are learning to code, they are learning syntax, the phrases and sentences that when combined together help to build a computer program. This set of instructions could then be used to help build things like websites, games, movies, robots, or other machines and systems.
When children are learning programming languages, their set of directions they are writing will ultimately be processed and translated by the computer down into binary code. Binary code only consists of two numbers: 0 and 1. In binary, the 0 means False / off and the 1 means True / on. The combination of the 0’s and 1’s is what tells the computer systems what to do – like open a page, move right, or go to the next step. This is how computers, robots, and systems can process the data that we write in coding.
As children learn the code they are learning better how technology works. Learning how things work means that you child can apply what they learn to figure out new, bigger, or harder problems to solve. Learn about the best coding languages for kids and how you can help support them to learn coding at home.
How coding helps creativity?
Coding and creativity go hand-in-hand. When learning to code, children can explore and experiment to find multiple ways or solutions to solve a problem. As they are building their different solutions they learn from them and then adjust and make changes to their coding until they reach the desired effect.
In addition, with the development of creativity, children learn about the concept of refining processes or steps to make their end product even better. Better in coding could mean that they do something in fewer “steps” to be more efficient, or maybe adding more complexity like creating a new level to a game.
Before even starting to learn to code, whether using blockly coding or actual syntax, you can see these creative “coding” behaviors in everyday childhood creative play. As your child is building with blocks and then realize if they place a circular block on the bottom and a square shape on top, that it is hard to balance, so that they should reverse the order. This is the exact same process that happens when they learning to code. They learn the order and process are important to help reach the end desired state.
Being a creative thinker is just a part of the process when learning to code.
How coding helps improve math skills?
Coding and math are typically the first combinations of skills that a parent makes a direct connection with around the benefits and they why behind their children learning to code. Many of the skills are in direct correlation to one another so it is an easy fit to make. Coding is considered an application of math. Real math is used in codings like counting, dimensions, distance, radius, iterations, decimals, quadrants, planes, and the list could go on!
The main benefit, besides exposure to more advanced math skills, when compared to grade and age, is that coding helps children to visualize the abstract concepts of math and make them more concrete. For example, if a child has a real-world application and example of division tied to a program they are creating, you typically see less hand counting as they can visualize what ½ or ¼ of something looks like.
Typically, the introductory coding skills that tie into math include learning true, false, and if. For example, in coding, if something is “true” (on) or “false” (off) – the math translation that would be is something equal to 1 or 0. If the cat’s mouth is open (on/true/1), it will meow, if the cat’s mouth is closed (false/off/0) then it will be quiet. This concept then grows into coding statements that include “if”. If something were to happen, what would the result be? If the cat moves one space to the right, it says meow.
How coding improves academic writing abilities?
The process of coding is similar to writing in a foreign language, thus can help to improve academic writing abilities. A lot of the steps in writing for coding are the same and academic writing.
First, kids must learn how to plan and structure their ideas for the program, just like they would do when planning to write an essay. Graphic organizers and bubbles maps are also using the beginning stages of the programming process. Additional organization is done by organizing the details into a sequence. Just like in academic writing, planning for writing a program could be accomplished in a project outline. In crafting this outline, they would identify the main focal point and problems they are trying to solve through the essay or program.
Programming and the writing process have additional similarities beyond structure and organization is the focus on research. This research step is important for coming up with potential solutions for the program or for planning the facts and evidence in the academic writing. The next step in the process would be to begin to write the syntax for the program or the essay.
These processes have defined parrels that lead to learning how to code can help improve academic writing abilities.
How coding improves problem-solving abilities?
Learning how to code helps to improve problem-solving abilities. By nature, when programmers are coding, they are using computer language to help solve a problem. Examples of problems that coders solve could include how to purchase a product from an online store, how to turn off an on your lights through voice recognition, or how to move a character in a video game or movie.
By learning coding, children are able to learn to create directions to solve a problem. They will also realize that there could be more than one way to solve a problem.
A problem-solving challenge you can give your child to is to write down the directions on how to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and then to follow their directions and make the sandwich. All of the items that need to come together to create the sandwich are considered the inputs and the ultimate output is the sandwich. This is a classic introduction to coding activity.
As they write through their directions and try to put them into action, they will realize that they will have to go back and edit their directions by adding or removing steps, adding in additional tools to help them make the sandwich, or eliminate duplicated steps, these are all called inputs. This is called debugging. They may also need to repeat a series of steps in the process like putting the knife into the jar to get more jelly and then spreading it with the knife. This would be considered a loop in coding.
Once they come up with their directions to come up with making their sandwich, you could have them compare their directions to a recipe they find online. This would showcase to them that there are multiple ways that someone could make the sandwich.
One of the other skills kids learn when completing this activity is learning that failure is part of the process. They may not get all the inputs correct on their first try, they might have to go back and refine their directions, or they might even need to just start over! This is all part of the iterative process that is involved in coding, and it is okay to fail and then try again – this is grit and is an important skill in coding. It helps to improve their confidence in trying new things.
Another way to learn problem solving is through robotics programs. Just like learning to code, robotics instills the same processes, critical thinking, and creativity.
Overall, learning to code activates problem-solving skills and increases your kid’s confidence in trying new things.
What is the best age to start coding?
Kids can start learning to code as early as 5-6 years old. Typically, kids are introduced to programming using blockly, simplified coding blocks that allow children to learn the mechanics of coding languages to creating, move objects and create patterns. Once they’ve mastered that, they then typically more of to learning languages like Python.
Most of all though, the best time for a child to start learning how to code is when they show interest and are excited to learn. Here are the top 5 ways that your kid might be ready to learn how to code:
- They show interest in computer and video games and the curiosity of how they are made and the desire to create their own.
- They realize that there is a problem that they would like to solve and possibly a game, app, website, or other technology could be used to help solve the problem.
- They build or design when they are playing – like with Lego®, dolls, blocks, or other recycled resources.
- They ask discovery questions like “I wonder what will happen if I…” remove this block from the bottom of the tower, or push all of these cars down the ramp, or if I build another level to my doll’s house.
- Or simply – your child might just tell you they want to learn how to code!