5 Fresh Ways to Teach Kids to Code
In this technological age, learning to code has become just as important as learning to read and write. Indeed, coding is likely a more valuable and necessary skill these days than writing.
Some schools have acknowledged this and have integrated coding classes into their curriculum. However, Idit Harel thinks American schools are teaching kids how to code “all wrong.” Teaching kids to program through apps and “coding tutorials” Harel believes is a “superficial response” to the increased need for individuals with programming skills.
Whether the current response to this need is right or wrong, there are definitely some more creative, fresh ways to teach kids how to code. We have listed 5 of those ways here.
- Install an “Old-School” Operating System
When computers were first introduced to schools for learning purposes, there were no icons and there was no mouse. Students needed to understand how computers worked and controlled it with a programming language. By setting up school computers in the way that this father did and adopting Seymour Papert’s Constructivist approach, kids, (as young as 3), could naturally learn to use the command-line and use computers to solve real problems.
While this might not be the “freshest” method, it is a proven, fun, and interactive way to teach kids to code. Already, educators have realized the potential of the uses for Minecraft in the classroom, and long before this, kids were playing and modding Minecraft, simultaneously learning to code. The idea of gamification can be applied to other learn-to-code methods in order to motivate kids and make the learning process fun.
- Introduce and Teach Programming Languages Like Any Other Language
Just as English has symbols, words, and grammatical rules, programming languages also have symbols, words, and rules. Just as different natural languages have different sets of grammatical rules, different programming languages have different sets of syntax rules. Programming languages should be introduced and taught in the same way that educators and parents introduce and teach children their first and second languages. Since children aged 0-5 have the highest capacity to learn multiple languages, though they don’t understand the level of learning happening, it only makes sense to introduce young children to programming languages in the same way and at the same time that they start learning natural languages.
- Using Physical Objects
Learning to code doesn’t always have to be done on a computer; kids can use physical objects. Children can learn Boolean logic by playing with objects such as the Osmo Coding Awbie, which teaches kids such reasoning through programming puzzles. As well, combining play with coding, LEGO BOOST allows kids to physically build their own robot and code its behavior and actions through an app.
- Code Schools
Whether it’s online or after school in a classroom setting, there are lots of programs that teach children how to code. Start with a search in your locale, or check out Sylvan Learning or theCoderSchool. If there are none in your area, or you’d prefer an online course, there are several platforms, including Made with Code Google, CodaKid, TechRocket, and more. The camaraderie and group-think atmosphere is good for kids and builds teamwork skills.
How do you teach kids to code? Share your methods with us!