Learn to Code
“I think everybody in this country should learn how to program a computer because it teaches you how to think.”Steve Jobs
The above holds true today more than ever, when programming has been made simple and interesting enough for young children to be introduced to it.
Benefits of Coding
- It helps children learn to solve problems
- It helps them develop a clear, logical way of thinking
- It increases creativity
- It enhances children’s persistence and communication
- It is fun
Here are things that I have explored for my son while I took him on the journey of learning how to code.
What age is suitable for coding?
There is no minimum age. If the child can read and understand basic instructions (5 years or so), then they can start coding. It is like any creative endeavour, painting, sketching, dancing, where the child uses basic concepts to create things they like.
Toys to Introduce coding
There are a number of toys available which teach the basics of coding (logic building, concepts of loops or repetition) in a fun way. Some toys that I have found fun and useful are below.
This is a lego toy which can build 5 models including Vernie, a robot and Frankie the cat. It comes with a motor and sensors and an app which helps you build the models and program them as you build it.
Age group: 6+ years
I had bought this for my son when he was around 6 years and he loved it. The assembly of this robot is intuitive, all steps are elaborated in the app. The robot is programmed in a block based coding language, which is a very simple, visually understandable programming language. The robot can move, dance, even move its eyebrows, navigate around obstacles and speak.
The fun way in which it introduced him to programming, made him look forward to more programming and coding options once he had programmed this toy multiple times.
Lego Mindstorme is another one for older kids (10 year +). There is a little more additional functionality in it than Boost and requires basic knowledge of programming before you can use it.
Avishkaar – These are kits with metal parts to make your own robot and program it. This is available in India. I am not sure of availability in other countries yet.
Sphero SPRK – This is recommended as a learning tool for many schools around the world. It offers so many advanced programs that it is unlikely that your child will outgrow it soon. This app controlled robotic ball with a scratch resistant and waterproof polycarbonate shell, is for 5 years +. It is simple for beginners but has advanced features for seasoned programmers too.
Online Platforms for Coding
This is a free resource that is available for everyone. Code.org is a nonprofit dedicated to expanding access to computer science in schools and is supported by some of the donors like Microsoft, Facebook, Amazon etc. It has over 60m students.
The curriculum is designed from the very basic to more complex problems, teaching one concept at a time. Many paid platforms use code.org as the base for teaching coding to young children. They use visually understandable blocks which can be dragged and dropped onto the coding area to solve the given problem.
If a child is interested in coding, then this is a great platform to learn in a structured manner even without the help of a teacher. After Lego Boost, I had introduced my son to code.org and he could not wait for the half an hour I had slotted for him in the day for this.
This is another free resource for kids. Scratch is the world’s largest coding community for children and a coding language with a simple visual interface that allows young people to create digital stories, games, and animations.
Once my son had learnt the basic concepts from code.org, he started Scratch. This opened a whole new gamut of things he could do. He has created designs and multiple games on this platform. There are others who have created complex games and programs which serve as a motivation for him to learn more and see the possibilities that have opened up for him.
So, help your kids learn a skill and develop their creativity, while also getting future-ready. Teach them to code.
“You might not think that programmers are artists, but programming is an extremely creative profession. It’s logic-based creativity.”John Romero
TIP Education has affiliate partnerships. These do not influence editorial content, though TIP Education may earn commissions for products purchased via affiliate links.