Can Coding Improve Your Child’s Writing Skills?
There’s a big push in education right now to teach kids how to code. Coding is undoubtedly an important skill that will help students in the job marketplace. It’s an in-demand skill and a useful one. But can coding help students in other areas? Some are now suggesting that coding can help improve students’ writing skills.
Telling a story through code
In many ways, coding is like writing a story. Programmers must go in a sequential order, just like storytellers. Just like writers, programmers first sit down and plan out the story they will tell. What will happen in the beginning, middle, and end? This is just as important for programmers to know as it is for writers.
Kids can also use coding to create stories. While we may not think of coding as a creative pursuit, it certainly can be. Some of the best video games tell stories. Through coding, students can create their own stories. The best part? These stories are interactive. Just like an old “choose your own adventure” book, the reader (or player) can decide what the character will do next and change the outcome of the story.
Programmers and writers must use words wisely
Good writers use their words wisely. They know how to say something in as few words as possible. This helps keep writing concise, readable, and to the point.
When writing code, good programmers know how to do a lot with just a few lines of code. Excess code can make a program confusing if other programmers need to make changes. Too much unnecessary code can also confuse the computer and lead to unexpected and unwanted outcomes.
When kids practice coding, they get into the habit of eliminating excess. This will make them better communicators and writers. They’ll know how to say a lot in just a few words—an increasingly important skill in a world where attention spans are shrinking.
Coding forces kids to plan ahead
Both writers and programmers have to learn to plan ahead. Most teachers are familiar with the struggle of trying to get students to complete graphic organizers and plan ahead before they start writing. This kind of big-picture organizational thinking is a challenge for kids.
When writing code, students have to know where they’re going. Otherwise, their code will end up a garbled mess that’s hard to make sense of. Programming allows students to practice planning ahead and thinking about the big picture, a skill they’ll definitely need in writing.
In writing and code, there are rules
Another similarity between writing and coding? Both have rules that must be followed. If kids ignore the rules when coding, they’ll end up with a program that doesn’t work. Certain functions must go in a particular order, and programmers have to understand the proper use of each bit of code.
In writing, there are rules, too. While you won’t get an error message if you break the rules of grammar, writers who eschew conventions may find that their work is hard to read. Knowing the parts of speech and understanding sentence structure is a lot like knowing how to write code.
By practicing their coding skills, students can get a sense of how to piece these different parts together. This skill will translate into their writing, making them better writers.
Coding and writing aren’t that different
In many ways, coding and writing and alike. Both require an understanding of the basics as well as the ability to plan ahead and see the big picture. And both coding and writing allow kids to get creative and tell a story in their own unique way.
Have your kids learned to code? If so, what changes have you seen in their writing?