October 1, 2016
Written by David Dodge, founder of CodaKid
Evident in the latest smartphones, televisions, and computers, technology is advancing on what seems to be a daily basis. While it may take some of us longer to catch up, the next generation of children have grown up with these devices and technology at their fingertips. By the time most children are three, they know how to navigate an iPad or smartphone and many can troubleshoot your technology issues by the time they are in kindergarten.
Do you think your kids or grandkids are too young to learn how to code? This may surprise you, but thanks to many recent innovations in computer science education, younger children are at the perfect age to learn.
Coding (also known as computer programming) makes computers, apps, and websites do what you tell them to do. Many experts consider coding a new literacy that will be as important as math and science in the coming years, and children as young as five years old can learn it through a variety of apps, tools, and courses.
Here are five reasons why you should consider introducing computer science to your child or grandchild at an early age:
Coding teaches 21st century skills
It is estimated that by the year 2020 there will be one million unfilled computer programming jobs in the United States. Jobs in programming and other computer occupations also pay very well, and are increasing at twice the national average job growth rate, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. Coding will touch nearly every job of the future including medicine, education, business, law, social services, construction, and more. By gaining fluency in computer programming at an early age, students can gain a leg up in tomorrow’s world.
Coding teaches students analytical and problem solving skills
Coding teaches students how to break down problems into manageable steps and how to tackle these steps in a logical order. We’ve found that this practice helps students with a number of life skills including task prioritization, resource management, and problem solving. Learning how to effectively define problems, break them into steps, and create a plan for solving them can help students with leadership disciplines and even essay writing.
Coding strengthens math skills
One of the biggest complaints that we hear about modern mathematics education is that students do not see how it relates to anything meaningful in their lives. Coding changes this by making math come alive, and many students who previously disliked math find it engaging and exciting. For example, in a CodaKid coding class, students in kindergarten and first grade were coding an explosion using Minecraft Java source code, and part of the instruction involved understanding the mathematical concept of radius. Students learned quickly that manipulating the parameters of the radius had a direct impact on the size of the explosion. These students likely won’t see radius in their school curricula until the third grade, but they grasped the concept quickly and easily.
Coding builds confidence
Watching children building exciting digital programs from the ground up and then observing parents beam with pride is a common site at CodaKid’s coding academy. Coding is not easy, and it requires patience and perseverance. Kids who work at the discipline can become good at it quickly and their successes help build confidence in their intelligence and in their problem solving abilities.
Coding is creative and fun!
When taught the right way, coding can be immensely creative and fun and can help turn children’s computer time into something productive. At CodaKid, our engineers help kids build exciting mobile game apps and modify the source code of Minecraft to create new and exciting “mods” that the kids dream up in our planning sessions. We view coding as a discipline similar to woodworking. Kids are always working towards a final product and there is a tremendous sense of satisfaction upon completion.
Giving our children the tools and experiences that they need to succeed in tomorrow’s world is always our goal as parents. The next time your children or grandchildren display an interest in a video game, app or anything coding related, you might consider asking them if they’d be interested in learning how to make the game rather than just play it. In our experience, there is no activity that is better at making computer time more productive than learning how to code.
About the Author
David Dodge is the founder of CodaKid, a kids coding and design academy for kids based in Scottsdale Arizona. CodaKid provides summer tech camps, classes, and online courses that teach coding and game design to ages 6 to 15. David is credited on over 30 game titles for Sony and Sega, and is the founder and software architect of Tutorware, a SaaS business application. For more information about CodaKid, please visit www.codakid.com.