3 Tips to Drive Your Kids Into Coding

December 2, 2015

7:00 pm

If your kids show an interest in learning to code, you should do everything possible to encourage that interest. The demand for the skill will hardly go away in the following years.

First, coding is a great hobby that gives kids a chance to create many cool things from video games to smartphone apps – a potentially great lesson in creating their first product. In addition to this, coding helps kids to develop skills that they will use in math and science classes, as they get older. Who knows, their coding talents might even lead to a lucrative career. More than one young person has made it big writing code. Finally, coding is a productive and healthy hobby, and we all know that the more kids are involved in positive activities, the less likely they are to hang out with negative influences or engage in risky behaviors. As a parent, your challenge is to find ways to help your kids learn to become good coders while also making sure they have fun. Here are some tips and resources that may help.

Start Young

Even toddlers can soak up technology like little sponges. Think about it. There are two-year-old children who can grab a tablet or smart phone, open up their favorite apps and play games or watch videos with no help from adults. Even before kids learn to code loops, routines, or if statements, they can learn to tinker with technology and modify the software and hardware available to them. These initial steps instill confidence and boost curiosity.

When they are old enough to read and develop a basic understanding of cause and effect, it may be a good time to introduce them to a coding app that is designed for children. Most of these are touch screen friendly, and use images in their interfaces much more so than text. This makes these apps extremely intuitive for kids between the ages of 4 and 9.

Seek High-Quality Coding Courses

When kids are ready to take their skills to the next level, it may be time to look for term time coding courses for kids, or other learning opportunities. There are plenty of opportunities available for online learning, but many kids do better learning to code in a classroom. You may find that your child’s school has an after school club for coders. If not, check out your local colleges and universities, many of them offer coding camps and classes for kids to encourage interest in STEM fields. You might also consider scouting. Many scouts earn badges learning to code and mastering other technologies.

Encourage Older Kids to Learn Advanced Coding Techniques

Khan Academy and other online schools offer free training programs to help students learn to write code. Students can learn HTML, JavaScript, Python, PHP, and other languages. When students reach this point, the role of the parent should be one of support and encouragement. Avoid pressuring kids to write something that makes money, or to pursue one language or platform over another. Kids can always pick up a new or different skill, what’s important now is that they retain their passion for writing code.

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Dianna is a former ESL teacher and World Teach volunteer, currently living in France. She's slightly addicted to apps and viral media trends and helps different companies with product localization and content strategies. You can tweet her at @dilabrien

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