If you’re a parent, you know it’s important to teach your kids a range of skills to prepare them for their future lives. And maybe for you, this includes the critical thinking and creativity they can learn from studying computer science.
But as an adult, it can be hard to know how to start teaching this topic, especially if you aren’t very familiar with computer science yourself.
In this guide, we’ll cover some core concepts around teaching computer science and coding to kids- but the main takeaway is that coding and computer science isn’t just for adults. Everyone, including children, can benefit from learning computer science.
Let’s begin with a brief overview of coding and computer science.
What is Coding and Computer Science?
Coding is computer programming using a language that converts to machine-readable instructions. Learning coding languages helps us to speak to and create programs and other digital assets with computers.
Coding teaches logic, allows one to build things, and sparks creativity. It also opens doors to well-paying careers such as software engineering, web development, and computer science.
Computer science is a broader field that encompasses computer programming and digital systems, networks, and data. It’s helpful to distinguish between computer science and coding as they’re not the same.
Can Children Really Learn to Code?
Yes! It’s much easier for children to learn complex subjects quicker than adults due to the more significant presence of gray matter in their brains. Everyone is born with a certain amount of gray matter that can be used to understand and retain key concepts.
By the time you’re an adult, you’ve used up most of your gray matter. This is why it’s critical to begin teaching essential concepts early when children still have a lot of gray matter to use to mold their knowledge base.
This is why you often hear the phrase, “Children soak up information like sponges,” because their young brain is much more pliable than adults.
What Age is Appropriate to Start Teaching Children Computer Science?
So when do I start teaching my kid computer science and coding? As soon as possible! It’s never too early for kids to learn coding or computer science. Remember that learning computer science doesn’t have to be complicated and you can learn right along with them!
What are the Benefits of Learning Computer Science?
A computer science course can benefit your child in many ways, including helping with critical thinking skills, problem-solving skills, and programming skills.
It can also teach them to work hard and be committed to a project from start to finish—skills that will serve them well as they grow up. One of the essential parts of learning computer science is being exposed to various topics, ranging from coding to hardware design—not just one type of coding language.
Coding isn’t something reserved for software engineers either; knowing how computers function at a young age will help anyone become better at any profession where technology plays a role.
Computer Science Has a Role in a Variety of Industries
Some examples of ways computer science and coding can improve a career are:
- Helping a nurse sort through medical records faster
- Helping a manager optimize their inventory to sell more products
- Easing financial data entry for accountants
- Even helping lawyers research cases quicker and easier
Computer Science Also Plays a Part in Soft Skill Development
Computer science can also provide your child with a set of tools that they can use throughout their life to find creative solutions to problems.
Examples of this include creativity, problem-solving, computational thinking, and focus skills. It also can help children to be more confident. Working on a project and seeing it through from start to finish is a fantastic feeling.
Most people who learn computer science will tell you that their passion is derived from that feeling of accomplishment and pride they get when they see what they made with their own hands or code.
As we’ve seen above, computer science doesn’t just help kids become better at their chosen profession; it also helps them become better thinkers in any situation where they need to solve a problem.
These skills are so critical because as we move into an era of rapid technological advancement, critical thinking will play an even more prominent role than it does today.
How Can You Get Your Child Interested in Coding?
Start them out young with some age-appropriate applications that progress as they do.
Allow them to play with technology as a toddler (with appropriate supervision, of course). One fun activity you can try with your toddler is learning the different components of a PC together.
Get an old junk PC and take it apart together, naming each part you come across. Allow them to touch and feel the components and imagine what they do on the computer. That will whet their appetite for learning more about computers.
When they begin learning to read (around age 5), you can start to read beginner computer science books together. You can also play with computer-based toys together, which you can purchase at local stores or online.
When they become more proficient with reading they can start learning primary computer coding languages like Python, HTML, or even modding a favorite game such as scripting in Minecraft, Roblox or other popular titles.
iCode begins offering computer science courses at the 5-6 age range.
Offer to learn together and show your enthusiasm about computer science and computer programming. Your attitude will be contagious for your kid, and they will get excited about it, too!
What is the Best Computer Programming Language for Kids?
There are several excellent computer programming languages to start kids with.
One popular coding language for kids is the Scratch programming language. MIT built the Scratch coding language to teach kids computer science, and it’s perfect for beginners. It uses a drag-and-drop interface, so children don’t have to worry about typing in lines of code; instead, they can focus on what they want their program to do.
Another popular computer programming language for kids is Python. Python is a general-purpose, high-level language and was designed with readability in mind.
Its syntax follows English keywords, so it’s easy to read and understand. Python is easy to learn because it’s similar to English; kids find that learning to code in Python doesn’t feel like learning another language altogether.
Of course, the best computer programming language for your child will be the one that aligns best with their current interests.
For example, if your child is obsessed with music, an ideal coding language for them may not even be a language but a computer science course that teaches students how to optimize music production software to create better music.
What is the Best Way to Get Your Kid Started?
If you want to get serious about educating your child in coding, then enrolling them in a coding course may be an ideal option for you.
These types of courses are explicitly designed for kids in their age group. These courses teach concepts at an academic level kids can understand and include games and activities to make learning fun while promoting curiosity and critical thinking.
These programs are a worthwhile investment because you will be able to give your child the knowledge that will set them apart from their peers later on down the road!
Features to Look For in Computer Science Course for Kids
When selecting an online coding course for kids, look for the following features:
- Flexible program options: The curriculum shouldn’t conflict with your daily schedule. Look for a school that offers flexible plans and program options.
- High tech labs: Immersive, hands-on experiences with the latest technology will make the most of your kid’s education.
- Critical Thinking: The school needs to also teach critical thinking and creative problem-solving skills for any coding skills to be fully applied.
- Provides classes for various age levels: Your child should be able to take a course that challenges their current skill level.
This is not an exhaustive list of what to look for in a coding course, but it will help you get started on picking the right one.
There’s an old proverb that says, “Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish, and you feed him for life.” In other words, as humans, we benefit most from learning to do things ourselves rather than having things handed to us.
Most children are familiar with computers today, and technology is the way of the future. So that familiarity will serve them well. But beyond that, having a deep understanding of how technology works can be even more beneficial to their future.
That’s where computer science education comes in. Now that there are more opportunities than ever for students to explore computer programming, why aren’t all parents trying to take advantage of them?
Perhaps it’s because there is a common misconception that learning technology is only suitable for teenagers and adults. We hope this guide has eliminated that misconception and serves as a starting point to help you and your child get started with computer science.
If you’re ready to get started, iCode can direct you to interactive coding courses that teach everything from beginner’s fundamentals to advanced computer science concepts in a fun and engaging way.
If you want additional information about iCode or how their programs can help teach computer science, please check out our school locations.
Or contact us today if you have additional questions.