It’s no secret that programming is one of the most important job skills to have in today’s world and for the foreseeable future. With more and more jobs being replaced by technology, it only makes sense to prepare your kids to learn to code, and you can start right now!
Coding for kids isn’t all about complex algorithms or abstract languages, although it can be if they’re interested. Kids can create whatever their hearts or minds desire. From designing apps to coding games, their imagination is the limit and learning coding for kids helps strengthen their creative minds from an early age. If that wasn’t enough reason to run out and buy a coding kit for your kids, here are 5 more reasons why your child should learn to code right now, where we’ve gone into more detail about the benefits.
Tips for Parents before Kids Learning Coding/Programming
We know it sounds daunting, especially for parents who have no programming background, but you’ll be pleased to hear that, regardless of your background, you can still help your kids learn in a number of ways. Here are a few tips for you before you begin:
1. Python for older kids, Scratch for younger
If you need a beginning point to help your kids kick start their new journey, here’s where we recommend you start.
Scratch was developed by MIT with a simple interface that’s easy for anyone to use and is recommended for kids ages 8-13. One benefit of Scratch is its ability to run on any browser window, and you can check it out right here: https://scratch.mit.edu/. It’s a drag-and-drop system, plus the clear right and wrong actions make it the perfect place for kids who haven’t developed typing skills yet or want to learn the basics.
Python is the next step and will introduce them into the real coding world. What makes it an excellent language to begin with is its clear syntax, which is basically its set of rules. Python has such a large online community that no matter what you want to build or create, you can find support in any corner of the web. When Scratch no longer fits your child’s coding needs, Python is the best option.
2. Review real source code
Programming is very hands-on, and reading the rules and concepts just isn’t enough. To get good at coding requires constant practice, trial, and error.
Even after reading about the functions, variables and loops, opening up a blank editor and coding a website for the first time is very intimidating. One useful tip is to review real code from a real website or program and see how it’s done. Then try it yourself, and help your children practice writing the functions line by line to understand it better.
3. Try programming games
Coding games for kids can be a great starting project since they can learn the skills and have a real game they can play with by the end. There are many sources online to help create simple games, such as Tic Tac Toe or hangman.
4. Let them do the work
It can be tempting to take the keyboard or mouse to do certain tasks and save time, but programming is a hands-on skill, and they won’t learn unless they do it themselves. If they need assistance, try to point or guide them on the screen without touching the computer.
5. Skip the technical jargon
If you’re a software developer yourself, it may be tempting to jump right into object-oriented programming, SQL databases and data structures. When kids learn to code, it’s best to keep it simple and let them find their passion first. It’s not such fun jumping into the deep end and losing interest.
Top Programming Languages that Teach Kids How to Code
We already mentioned Scratch and Python as starting points, but there are many other languages they can learn too.
Swift was developed by Apple for iOS, macOS and all their other products. If you child loves and uses Apple products (and maybe is even considering a career with them in the future), this could be a great option.
With over 3 billion devices currently using Java, it’s easy to see why this is a good language to learn; however, it’s not as easy as Scratch or Python and would require a lot more hard work. That being said, a future with Java is promising, and there would be no shortage of career paths for your kids.
We’ve listed the top five languages for kids in 2019 and their benefits to help you narrow your options.
Top Apps and Games That Teach Your Kids Coding
There are infinite resources online and on your devices that can teach kids computer coding. If you decide to go down the gaming route, how do you go about deciding the best coding games for kids?
The most important thing is to try and find games and topics that interest them. Tic Tac Toe might not be for everyone. Here are some examples of great apps and games to try out:
mBlock is a Scratch 3.0 inspired programming software for kids’ STEAM education. You don’t have to worry that it might be too hard for your kid. It features a drag-and-drop interface that allows children to code like playing with building blocks.
Code.org is all about getting kids of all ages and levels excited about programming. It features interactive games and even speeches from notable figures, like Mark Zuckerberg and Barack Obama. With so much content available, you’re sure to find something that sparks an interest in your child’s mind.
While Minecraft was not originally aimed at kids, it’s widely popular with all age groups. It has many suitable real-life learning opportunities, and your child might already be playing it! With the ability to custom code his or her own mods into the game, it gives your child the chance to really dig deep and practice coding during game time.
4. Coding Robot Toys
With so many apps and games available for learning, it’s sometimes easy to forget that staring at code can get boring. Coding robots for kids is an extremely popular tool for teaching kids in a fun and hands-on way. Below, we list some great coding robot toys that are available in 2019.
Top Coding Robots for Kids
Coding kits for kids have been proven to be one of the most engaging ways to teach kids the basics of programming and develop their problem-solving skills. Some kits even replicate real-world problems that gives kids useful experiences for the future.
We’ve listed our top 10 programmable robot kits for education here for more options.
mTiny is a new member of the Makeblock family. It’s an early-education robot that was created to teach today’s young kids to code. Using coding cards and its Tap Pen Controller, mTiny brings computer programming into a child’s life and helps them explore, perceive, and create through highly interactive and stimulating games.
mBot is a STEAM education robot. With just a screwdriver and step-by-step instructions, kids can learn to build a robot from scratch. In the meantime, they can learn about a variety of robotic machinery and electronic parts and develop a better understanding of block-based programming, logical thinking, and design skills.
3. Codey Rocky
Codey Rocky is specifically designed to make coding easy and enjoyable for kids, more and more people have been turning to Codey Rocky by Makeblock. With the option to switch between block-based programmings, like Scratch, and Python programming, this kit is the perfect coding robot that grows with your kid’s level and skills. With added features like inbuilt AI and IoT functionality, you also get the competitive edge in those areas that other coding robot toys lack.
Makeblock is a leading STEAM education provider, with products currently being used in more than 25,000 schools worldwide. It’s important to help kids develop the necessary skills for their future, and Makeblock has developed a wide range of products and software to meet the needs of every level and age. Teaching your kids to code should be a fun activity, and Makeblock is dedicated to helping parents achieve that goal.