Programming is one of the best creative activities that kids can learn. Even though children may not be so interested in writing complex data processing algorithms, but they will surely enjoy the thought of creating games or designing websites, programming music, or only learning new things with the code. You may not know precisely how to teach your kids how to code, but there are plenty of resources available which you can use for this purpose.
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1. Scratch and Python
Scratch is MIT’s free programming tool, which is designed especially for younger kids, which can smoothly run on any web browser. This is ideal for children between the ages of 8 to 13 with its simple graphical interface. It has useful ways of learning, such as the codes that do not make any sense will not fit together, and as such, it reduces the probability of making any syntax errors. It has drag and drops code blocks, which snap together. It is the right choice, even for those kids who do not have any typing skills.
On the other hand, for older kids, there is Python, which is a real-world programming language. It has a simple syntax, and it produces a code, which is readable and also has a friendly community of developers. As your child outgrows scratch, Python is the next step.
2. Instead of Concepts, Show Kids Codes of Actual Programs
Learning how to code is a skill that requires practice rather than reading about it like books. After the kids take in some information about the concepts, it is best to introduce something interactive to them. There are many online resources, which can be shared with children, such as source codes to small games.
3. Games for Programming
This is a good start for children, programming video games. Flappy birds, Minecraft, Angry Birds, and other types of games are usually a source of inspiration for kids. You cannot, however, expect the kids to make great games since it takes a team of artists, developers, and designers to accomplish it.
4. Hands off the Keyboard and Mouse
You should keep your hands off the computer and let the kids handle it. The kids will mainly learn through practice, and that is only possible if the adults do not interfere and let the kids learn through their mistakes. Let the kids type the code whenever there is a need to, even though it may be faster if you do it.
5. Resources to Give Your Children
There are plenty of resources you can share with the kids that can help them learn to code.
- Move the turtle: This is a free app on the iPad, which is useful for children between the ages of 9-11. It teaches children the concepts of critical thinking, which help them coding.
- Sphero: This is an interactive toy that is entirely hands-on. Through this, the kids can learn the basics of programming through the robotic capabilities of Sphero.
- Hopscotch: This is good for children ages 9-11 and a free app for iPad, which has some handy video tutorials, which helps children to program games.
- Made with Code by Google: This is aimed to help with the gender gap that is present with STEM and is an initiative by Google. This is mainly for young girls to inspire them to become programmers through online resources, in-person parties, and summer camps.
6. No Computer Science
You may be a software developer and may want to share your vast knowledge in this area. It may sound very insightful and exciting for you to tell your kids about how the algorithms work, or how to practice problems from Project Euler, but you do not want to drive the kids away! Start slow with the kids, and do not just dump knowledge on them. Take it slow.
There are many ways to teach your kids coding from a variety of options, as mentioned above. You can let them pick and choose what they are comfortable with and then let them find their passion. Once the children experience what coding has to offer, they will surely be excited to try new and different ways and choose the one that suits them the best. Pluralsight is another great option that can be suitable for older kids, but a lot of the content is made for adults. Check out some alternatives to Pluralsight to see if there’s anything that fits your childs needs.