5 Reasons Why Kids Should Learn to Code
What’s coding anyway? e-Quipped has invited technology blogger, Madelein Lindeque to explain coding in a nutshell. She explains, “One can think of it as learning another language to understand and manipulate our current and future electronic devices.” Read on to find her top five reasons why kids should learn to code.
Internationally, the focus in Computer Science Education is steering towards the inclusion of coding within all schools. In Australia, the government (2014/15) “…has committed an extra $12 million to restore the focus, and increase student uptake of, science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) subjects in primary and secondary schools across the country.” This support includes the introduction of computer coding across different year levels.
There are many reasons why our kids and teens should learn to code, but for today’s purposes, we’ll focus on the following five:
- Coding teaches Critical Thinking and Problem Solving
Have you ever watched your child build something in Minecraft and wondered what could possibly be gained from digging into virtual grass? The beauty of Minecraft is that it’s not story-based. To make anything happen in this virtual world requires a decision from the player, and the outcome of that decision determines what happens next, thus stimulating critical thinking and problem solving.
- Coding Can Unlock Creativity and Provide Opportunity for Self Expression
Learning to code their own games, animations, and interactive stories provides kids with an avenue for self-expression, while learning skills for the future. Susan Wojcicki, the Senior Vice President of Google, says, “Learning to code makes kids feel empowered, creative, and confident. If we want our young people to retain these traits into adulthood, a great option is to expose them to computer programming in their youth.”
Scratch, developed by MIT Media Lab, is a free drag-and-drop program that encourages creativity and provides the opportunity for kids to share their creations in a dedicated online community. For Lego MindStorm enthusiasts, coding with RoboMind software can enhance their robot creations to participate in various competitions.
- Knowing Some Code Provides Competitive Advantage in the Future Workforce
Imagine your first job as being at a very competitive company (any profession will do). Your new employer asks you to update the information on the company webpage. You’ve never done that before but your boss says not to worry, it’s easy – it’s similar to a word processing program. Everything goes well until you update the page. All of a sudden some text appears in italic, there are spaces in odd places, and the font has gone haywire. You panic for a brief moment; you really don’t want to disappoint your new boss! Then you notice the tab to switch the input screen to the HTML option. Fortunately, you’ve learned some HTML coding and can quickly scan where the problem is. With a few adjustments, everything is perfect, and the boss is impressed.
Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group, enthuses about coding: “Whether we’re fighting climate change or going to space, everything is moved forward by computers, and we don’t have enough people who can code. Teaching young people to code early on can help build skills and confidence. I learned how to fly a hot air balloon when I was 30,000 feet up and my life was in the balance: you can learn skills at any age but why wait when we can teach everyone to code now!”
- Learning a New Language Understood Internationally
Salman Khan, the founder of Khan Academy, explains that in preparing “…humanity for the next 100 years, we need more of our children to learn computer programming skills, regardless of their future profession. Along with reading and writing, the ability to program is going to define what an educated person is.”
- Most Importantly – It’s Fun!
Kids love interactive play and creating their own imagination games. With numerous free resources available online, coding programs offer kids the opportunity to explore and learn while having fun. Every year Code.org, a non-profit dedicated to expanding participation in computer science, hosts the Hour of Code, in which kids participate in games to master basic coding concepts. The focus is on fun, and celebrities, sport stars and even US President Obama participate, proving we are never too “big”to learn new skills!
About the Author:
Thanks to our guest blogger, Madelein Lindeque, who is known as Mum Talks Tech within the Cyber World. When she’s not managing her hubbie, supervising their two kids, or taking orders from the cat, she writes about technology-related topics, curates Facebook pages, designs graphics, and builds online shops.
Images courtesy of: the guest author, Scratch.mit.edu, and Code.org