Of late, the new fad in the market is to teach coding for young kids. There have been many articles against it too. Parents are confused to invest in this skill. Is this a good skill for the kids? Is it a burden for the kid? Let’s explore it together.
What is Coding?
Coding is a way to provide a series of instructions to a computer to make it do what you intend to. The computer is a dumb machine but super fast. You need to break the problem into pieces and feed every piece. A simple problem like adding 2 numbers when fed to the computer results in 4-10 instructions depending on the programming language of choice.
Coding as a new skill:
Coding is not a new skill anymore but it is, in the kids’ domain. One who develops this skill improves his ability to break down problems into smaller pieces, improves his logical thinking ability, and of course, his computer literacy. It is similar to mathematics in which you solve a problem one step at a time. If you like your kid to pick up ‘non-academic’ skills like Abacus or Vedic Mathematics, Coding is one more choice you have. I personally recommend Coding from age 10. However, it completely depends on the ability of the kid to start earlier or later.
Types of Coding:
Coding is thought to kids in 2 ways – block-coding and textual-coding. Think of block-coding as a block-set game in which various blocks are used to construct a house or a bridge. You construct a computer application using various blocks. Textual coding is more orthodox. You construct an application using textual instructions.
The above is a high-level overview of coding. There are many aspects to it such as the different programming languages, mobile/web/desktop applications, gaming, etc. The idea is not to give a comprehensive story on coding but to provide the inputs for a parent to take the right decision.
To learn block-coding, you can leverage MIT App-Inventor OR Scratch. To learn text-based coding, you can leverage Khan academy. All of these are free! Udemy has a few courses on Scratch and HTML for kids. They are easy follow-along tutorials available at a very low price. Youtube also has a few such course-series, especially for HTML.
If you are a parent who understands code OR a parent who wants to learn along with your kid, go ahead and explore the above; Learn together.
Roblox is yet another platform you could leverage. Here, you get exposed to both block-based and text-based coding. Fun too as you will build games! Udemy has a few tutorials for Roblox too. They teach you a programming language called LUA.
If you are looking for 1:1 classes, you can try White-hat Jr or Camp K-12. Camp K-12 uses the MIT app inventor platform. Many companies are now exploring this domain. Hiring a good computer teacher too is an option you could explore.
Well, my intention is not to recommend whether your kid needs this skill. Coding sparks the problem solving and logical thinking abilities of kids if thought the right way. Besides, it does make the kid computer literate as a side-effect. If your kid is picking these abilities with other courses/tools, don’t worry too much about getting him to learn to code. He is not missing much. I have attempted to provide all the information I am aware of. Hope this was useful and you can now make an informed decision.