Nowadays teaching kids to code has become a global phenomenon. Alone in the US, ‘90% of the parents wish their kids to learn programming at school’ according to a Gallup Poll.
Teaching kids to code at a younger age can get them a prolific career even if they are not going to study it in senior classes. Despite this much impact and career assurance, there is a small number of schools in the USA which offer programming to kids at a younger age.
We have given a round up in this guide on how to teach coding to kids at a young age with some proven methods, frameworks and easy to master coding skills as well as free and paid resources, websites and apps that one can use.
Why are kids not learning enough computer programming in the US despite knowing the importance of it? Having said that, still, we look closely and we will know that it’s not the schools that have not tried that. To educate kids with computer programming requires a different staff, tools and environment which costs a big amount of money. Many private schools do that because they can afford to, but traditional schools fail to do so.
In fact that’s one of the reasons that free resources are made available online to educate them. Most of the resources, websites, apps tools and tutorials are available online, so even a parent can teach kids computer programs at school. Many engineers provide free classes and tutorials on different platforms. You can use even the same tools that engineers at Twitter, Google and other big platforms use. The kids can even learn advanced fields like AI, Robotics, AR and much more. We have addressed it in detail what programming languages are used on creating platforms like Instagram, Facebook and Twitter which you can teach your kids in early childhood.
1. What is Coding for Kids? What Age is Appropriate For Kids to Learn A Programming Language?
Coding is a very creative process to begin with as you have to tell the computer to perform certain tasks. First of all writing a program is necessary in one of the computer languages. You may find it less challenging to teach it to an adult but for kids the resources you use got to be highly interesting. So very interesting content is used to create projects for kids to teach them coding. These projects are gamified in such a way that the kids won’t feel withdrawn at any point of time.
There are two interesting procedures used to teach kids with —gamification; using visual blocks or including text suitable for kids’ age. To keep them engaged the resources are designed on the basis of games, apps and kids centric visual objects.
In short, learning to code at a young age provides kids and teens with more future opportunities. As you will learn below, the data is compelling. According to the Bureau of Labor median pay for software developers is $103,560 per year, with demand expected to increase by 24% per year from 2016 to 2026. This is much faster than the average of other occupations.
When kids learn to code at a comparatively young age they can avail themselves of many future opportunities. According to the Bureau of Labor ‘a software developer gets paid around $103,560 per year, and the demand would keep rising up to 24% each year until 2026s.
The truth is even if your kids have received coding education in their K-12 school still they would not match the excellence because most of the schools which offer this kind of programs lack the resources, kits and programming language competency to help any kid kickstart his career later on. What we have found through surveys that most of the schools which claim to incorporate programming languages actually teach through few websites and platforms while there is a wide range of online services available for coding for kids.
- Scratch – The schools use it because it’s free for children to learn coding without involving real programming but visual boxes are used which is of course interesting but not enough to help a child start an engineering career
- Code.org – Code has same visual boxes type of teaching methodology with some basic code-oriented modules but not enough
- Tynker – This one begins with visual boxes and includes some coding later on still far from the actual methodology
This could prove a fun beginning but they would not be able to create any of their own masterpiece such as apps and games because they are taught by teachers who do not have the engineering background and preliminary knowledge is not enough to program anything.
However, those parents who are investing separately in resources to get their kids educated with coding and programming, they get related education as they are taught by engineers who use resources needed for software development. You would realize how close the kids are being taught by the professional engineers with the same competency as working on big social media platforms.
What is a computer code structure like for kids?
There are two concepts: conditionals and loopholes that’s what makes them look like.
A computer program to analyse and execute a part of a code being true or false is allowed by conditionals. Boolean values are used by Java for such conditionals. A true or false Boolean value is returned when it’s analysed on a machine.
Here is a snippet of code that determines when the user’s player performs an action:
Check the example shown above, if the player clicks on the flag, the user’s player is supposed to go 10 steps. That’s what it’s coded for.
The other very common coding structure is commonly known as a Loop. In that example, a “While Loop” is supposed to continually perform a command when the specific condition is true, and stops the command when the specific condition is false.
We have shown the example in the video above. As that condition is true for the specific event the action takes place. You can observe through this quoted example how it can be to teach coding to kids with the gaming format.
Why Should We Teach Programming Languages To Kids At A Young Age?
Kids at young age are like plastic so you can move and mold their education however you want. Once they get to learn the basics they surely would become pro after some time. Today’s kid already knows about different gadgets and all areas of study including math, science and other fields are null and void without computer science. As Steve Jobs quotes, “Coding teaches you how to think.” So the sooner we start the earlier we get it right.
Computer related jobs are on the constant rise. In the USA alone about a million unfilled tech jobs will remain so in 2021 due to lack of computer related education. Soon a huge number of computing jobs will take the scene in every field of STEM which might double the unfilled jobs in the years 2022-26.
All fields and walks of life are going to produce more room for tech dudes. As every industry including Farming, Law and Business are going to need them. Tech jobs are considered highly paid ones as compared to other fields. If someone is a full stack developer he can literally earn more than $100K in a fiscal year by just taking independent projects. Just scroll through the popular freelance platforms like Upwork, Fiverr and PeoplePerHour, you will get it right.
In the USA alone FAANG creates a major chunk of employment for the fresh graduates. Their examination is done through LeetCode to determine the capability of a tech person which could be easier for kids of today and the youth of tomorrow. Let’s which langauges are suitable for such kids.
3. What are the best coding for kids programming languages 2021?
Believe it or not kids can learn all types of languages. Even the mainstream programming languages. Some of the most popular programming languages we have mentioned below for kids.
Python sounds alien to people who don’t have a coding background but to teach robotics to kids, this is the best programming language. Python is the programming language which was used to create Instagram, YouTube and Spotify. It reads just like a normal speech. You don’t need proper commenting with the python code. As it reads, the instructions are already included if the code is well written. It will also help kids to think like real-time programmers. It offers not many hurdles that might confuse kids as other programming languages would do. The core Python libraries are available for help to begin with.
The common functions are already included in the coding with Python which will simplify it for the kids. Django is its framework that kids can use to create whatever they want.
The next big coding language that a child can learn is Ruby. The beginners will find it easy due to its readable syntax which is made as such. Its code is self explanatory which does not require typing the code into a machine for readability.
Ruby was used to write Twitter so it can be the best example to show kids its direct application. The kids can easily grasp it to the core with its use.
Many of today’s most successful programmers started learning Most of today’s popular coders began their coding careers with C or C++. However, for kids it could be difficult. But there’s a backdoor to it for them. If they come to know the fundamentals of it, then the half battle is already won. Still, the difference of opinion exists among the scholars whether or not the kids should start to learn C++. You can decide that for your kid.
Scratch is ideal for kids as it’s not as difficult as other languages on our list. However, if they are into animations and interactive gigs then this is the language for them. The best part is even you can teach them at home as it’s available online. It’s simple to code with Scratch and is as functional as a pro programmer can get. The kids can easily create 2D games with Scratch 3.0 which is based on visual blocks. There is a huge community of Scratch builders online who share their experiences and help others learn it.
Lua is another great language for kids that empowers Roblox Studio. However, unlike Scratch 3.0 which is visual blocks-based, Lua is text based coding language. It’s written in simple C. It’s highly recommended for kids to begin with if they like text based coding. So if they want to create games/apps at an early age Lua is the best programming language for kids.
Hopscotch is a visual programming language developed by Hopscotch Technologies, it helps young kids learn to code from the beginning. The kids can create program-based projects with blocks which can be played at the end. It’s a lot like an actual game and its interface is almost like actually playing a game instead of learning code.
How To Motivate Kids To Learn Coding?
There are few steps that the parents need to follow to make kids learn coding. Kids and teens get bored very easily. Consider doing the following things to make them engaged in computer science.
Making it Entertaining – It’s important that you or the teacher make the coding part interesting. If the teacher fails to do so, believe it or not they are going to quit or lose interest in it sooner that you anticipated.
Making it Creative – Kids are born with instincts for creativity and newness. Always go for the sections which are fun and creative. Avoid hassle of curriculum and course-work, make them understand they can create their own games. Make them type funny words. Once they find the ground for engagement they will keep the interest at peak.
Finding Them A Good Teacher – The experienced teachers always find ways to make teaching fun. It depends a lot on the mindset of the teacher. However, you can find the teacher online as well. These days, kids love to get educated online. While interviewing you’d ask them how they’d make coding look fun to your kids. We all know that Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO of Facebook, had a computer programming teacher early in his career when he was still at school.
Enrolling Them Fun Online Courses – There are many ways to keep kids engaged with programming. One of the chief motivations could come from enrolling them into an online course. If there are other kids around online, they together can learn well.
Understanding The Method They Like – For any parent who wants their kids to learn programming at a young age, understanding the method their kids like is very important. Most of the kids may love visual boxes but surely not all of them. Most of the kids get bored with visual blocks after getting used to them. But for kids between the ages of 5-7, visual blocks, emojis and lego coding kits are the best.
Many online platforms prefer visual blocks, emojis and adjacent boxes with drag and drop for kids to learn. According to them visual and tactile learning are the best methods. While the platforms such as Khan Academy and Codeacademy teach through textual method. That could be the next level for the kids who have already learned with visual boxes. Remember, a kid cannot develop a software unless he learns text-based coding.
Some of the popular paid and free programing websites for kids that are the best for kids under 10 years old are mentioned below. We have selected a few since there are tons of resources available online. We highly recommend choosing just gaming and app development with visual boxes for kids under 5-7 years while you can choose text-based teaching methods for kids of 8+ up to teenage.
- CS First – CS First is powered by Google For Education. It’s one of the best free online platforms to learn coding for kids. The kids can easily create their own apps and games with visual boxes. What makes it more desirable is that they have different curriculums for different age groups. So even if you don’t want your kids to get registered with an online platform for some fees, CS First is free for all.
- Osmo Coding – This is a programming starter kit for kids to begin coding at a young age. As not a single kid is out there who does not like Lego. This coding system teaches kids through it and it’s more fun than you can think of.
- MIT Media Labs- MIT labs has developed a separate program for kids to learn programming. This is also another great platform that allows kids to learn with Scratch. The visual blocks help to teach kids with great ease and they can add music, sound, animation and much more to their projects. The kids are given a lot of freedom as there is plenty of room for kids to show their creative side.
- Swift Playgrounds – We have mentioned coding for kids programs by Google, Microsoft and Apple. Swift Playgrounds is offered by Apple specially kids who want to learn coding on iPad. This is a free coding education program from Apple designed for kids addicted to iPads. Kids can learn a great deal of coding and it’s the best resource for beginners. It has puzzles, coding lessons and challenges.
- Code.org – As we have already mentioned it a lot above, is another wonderful coding platform for kids. Many schools teach kids through this platform for computer basics. They are partnered with Minecraft, Scratch and CodeBattle to help kids create games and apps.
- Tynker – If you can afford to spend some dollars on your kids’ computer learning that Tynker is the best paid online platform. If your kid starts with this platform which also uses visual blocks to teach kids, it will keep adding some more computer education to every stage of the course.
- Code Monster – One of the best online resources for kids to learn coding is Code Monster. It’s based on two basic principles that programming generally works on– inserting commands/codes and their outputs. The two boxes will be shown to kids. They will put the code in the first box and see its results in the adjacent box. This is one of the basic and simplistic methods of teaching code to kids.
- Codemoji – This one is a paid service. This is the only website that helps kids learn programming with emojis. The website has clean design with easy to access kid-friendly interface. We all know how much kids love emojis, so if you can invest a few dollars into teaching your kid how to code, this website will serve you right.
- Khan Academy – This academy provides all the free educational material and teaching for kids as it’s funded by Bill and Melinda Gates foundation. All its resources are absolutely free. This platform is ideal for kids above the age of 8 years. This platform teaches through videos and it covers almost all types of computer science subjects.
- CodeMonkey – This platform offers a number of different games that kids can enjoy and learn from. There are different levels that kids need to achieve and learn through. It’s another paid platform that charges yearly fees.
- Codecademy – This platform offers computer courses for teens which they can choose as a vocational training when their schools remain closed or during summer vacations. The programming and coding is taught through text based methods and there is not much room for games and apps. After completing courses at codecademy the teens can easily create their own software.
What are the best free apps to teach coding to kids?
- Daisy the Dinosaur