It’s a given that kids need to learn to code if they want to work as a web designer, software programmer, or computer scientist. Beyond that, you might think that it is a pretty useless skill. Writing line after line of code or debugging software programs do not appeal to the vast majority of people. So why teach kids to code? What is the point if they probably won’t enjoy it or ever actually write a software program?
Coding is more than just writing those lines of code, however. Kids need to learn to code for life. Some people say that coding is the new literacy. Erik Missio of CBC.ca writes that children as young as four or five can learn the basics of coding before they can write or spell and that coding is involved in just about every part of everyday life. Consider banking, security, shopping, communication, and networked computers that can control cars, thermostats, and health records. He states that
“[i]f grade-schoolers are taught biology and mathematics in order to understand the world around them, then knowing the basics of how computers communicate – and how to engage with them – should be a given.”
Key Reasons Your Child Should Learn to Code
Computational thinking is the basis of coding, and it is what helps you go from seeing that you have a pantry full of random ingredients to making dinner instead of jumping in the car and going out, says Tasneem Raja of Mother Jones. When you think computationally, you can take data that don’t seem related and organize it so that you achieve a desired end result. That is what John Snow, a London doctor, did in 1854 when he helped end a cholera outbreak by mapping where people died and the location of water pumps. He found that most people died close to a particular pump that was near a leaky cesspool. Computational thinking helped solve a real world problem – and without computers. Imagine what problems kids could solve as they grow up using the power of computers.
Coding is more than just practical. It can be fun for kids who enjoy creating things and video games. Even if a kid doesn’t particularly like video games, just enjoying making something can be enough to make coding fun. With a particular end goal in mind, coding allows kids to customize games, programs, websites, apps, and animations according to their skill and imaginations.
Communication and a Tool
Even if a kid doesn’t particularly enjoy coding, just learning to understand how to think like a coder and the parlance that goes with it can be extremely beneficial. If the child wants to start their own business or charity fundraiser, as more and more kids are doing these days, they can translate their vision into ideas that site or app designers can make a reality. If the child does enjoy coding, however, knowing how to think like a coder and to create code can give them the freedom to turn their visions into reality themselves, without the necessity of translating ideas into words for coders.
Coding Teaches Teamwork.
Coding helps kids learn to work together. Yes, coding can be a very individual activity, but kids learn so much more when they interact online or in-person with other kid coders who can teach them new skills related to coding. In life, teamwork is a vital skill. At work, at school, and everywhere in between, understanding that much wisdom comes from collaborating is important. In the coding workplace, coders often work together to share what they are learning and doing, so learning to code early especially prepares those who want to work as coders for a living.
Kids Love to Help.
Learning to code can be instrumental in a child’s ability to help other people. If they have an idea for how to make the world a better place, coding can help them do that. Children have come up with ideas for how to use computers to better medical care, for example. Others have used social media and websites to raise awareness and money for charitable causes. Knowing how to code positions children to take advantage of computing technology to improve the lives of millions.
Coding is an essential skill that goes beyond preparing kids for careers. It gives them a creative outlet, an opportunity to help others; and it teaches communication, problem solving and teamwork skills. Plus, it’s simply fun, and that’s what being a kid is all about.
Have you implemented coding in your child’s education plan? Let’s us know in the comments.
About the Author
Kelby Zorgdrager, CEO and Founder of DevelopIntelligence, has held just about every position possible in the technology world, from tech support to CTO. During his last role as a CTO, Kelby quickly realized that there was a distinct need in software development training – blending real-world, project-oriented skills with hands-on, focused training. Since Kelby started DevelopIntelligence, he and his team have been applying their vast software development experiences to create world-class learning solutions within tech companies.
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