Computer programming is a technique/process used to build executable computer instructions to solve problems for the computer. This essay deals with computer programming in youth, a phenomenon that is now popular in this modern age. Among the topics explored are the results of teaching programming to children, the strategies used to do so, and the variations in teaching methods used at various levels or ages of children. In definition, coding is the mainstay in computer programming, applications, computer software, and websites. It is the vocabulary that interprets technology orders in reality, such as a computer game, a working website, or a smart door alarm.
Making children learn all this provides understanding to their digital world.
Results of Teaching Kids Programming
Learning code by children helps them with problem-solving and critical thinking. Skills learned in programming help children devise the new ways of thinking and promote skills of solving problems with the most suitable solutions. The skills learned have effect in other facets of the lives of such kids. The computational ways of thinking assist children to have an understanding of the useful ideas such as algorithms and heuristics (Missio, 2017). Decision-making, cause and effect, and a sense of power are among skills and benefits derived from learning to code. The children will have to correctly code when it is faulty. That is a useful skill when applied to life (Tahnk, 2017).
The computer programming offers the conditions that facilitate rational models for children to master. It was previously believed that the programming environment is too abstract for their young minds but that is since disproven. Computers have the ability to make abstract ideas practical and concrete. They help children to learn better since their thinking process is conscious and diverse in its experiences. It allows kids to explore on the ‘how’ rather than the ‘what’ within their cognition. They become skilled thinkers. The variability of cognitive skills is achieved when kids are given extensive programming background. They are no longer limited to thinking for specific contexts (Clements & Gullo, 1984; Smith, Cypher, & Schmucker, 1996).
Understanding computer coding is essential to boost the mathematical capacity in children. Computers were designed for solving complicated science problems in early times (Clements & Gullo, 1984). To understand and operate computerized machines, one needs a robust mathematical set of skills. Coding and mathematical competence are intertwined. Learning code early in life, therefore, helps children to be good at math and other subjects generally, as it is a core subject in schools.
Coding is fun. Far from applicable reasons of learning code, creating some programs, games, or animations can be enjoyable, especially for children. The fun derived from that boosts creativity and proficiency in programming. Future programmers can cultivate their skills from tender ages (Missio, 2017). Computer programming improves memory capacity of kids. The process of coding intensively involves memory. High concentration and the capability to manipulate the numbers are required. Memory retention in children is sharpened in this process. The capacity to think in an analogical way is also grown, and that could be transferred to other areas of knowledge in life. Children, therefore, become better learners and problem-solvers throughout life. They have an advanced analogical thinking capability (Smith, Cypher, & Schmucker, 1996).
Another skill learned by the children who code is conditional thinking. Programming involves numerous dependent questions in different tasks of coding. These include the use of ‘if,’ ‘then,’ with or without ‘else.’ Kids acquire the skills to use such conditional statements. Moreover, coding adds extra educational benefit. Kids would feel more satisfied with their education for being able to manipulate computers in rather powerful ways which is rewarding. Coding in childhood is an excellent foundation for the kids to be able to use and manage technology in the future. Children learn to consider all the possibilities and outcomes of a decision. They think about the factors that can change the results. Students can apply these skills of thoroughness in thinking to their lives and personal choices (Tahnk, 2017).
Computational thinking, passing thoughts through logically, is important in daily life. It involves exploring a problem and dividing it into steps. Each of the problem steps is attempted in the best way possible. The children who can code from early in life think uniquely in a way that explores how the world works (Missio, 2017). The perspectives of the children to the world are refined. It also promotes creativity, since a lot of thinking outside the box is involved in coding. Written and oral communication is also improved, as a requirement for them to explain their program creations.
With a solid foundation in childhood, children can grow to become competent programmers. That provides them with the opportunities to work in leading companies such as Apple and Google. They can find fulfilling and well-paid jobs to have successful careers. Employers are very keen to hire job seekers with technological proficiency as coding is one of the highest ICT skills and is able to make skilled employees attractive to employers. Programming is occasionally referred to as the new form of literacy in the current world. Children, all over the world, are being prepared from young ages for such a world. Coding is introduced to them as early as middle and elementary schools. Some parents facilitate the teaching of their kids earlier than that, using simple applications that present coding environments to children (Smith, Cypher, & Schmucker, 1996; Tahnk, 2017). The goal is to prepare them for the world that requires the knowledge of code as a must and to make them able students of information technology and later to be competent employees in their careers.
Methods Used to Teach Kids Programming
Children require specialized environments to help them code efficiently. Symbolic simulations that use icons are essential. Users can manipulate these objects on the screen in a way that creates meaningful lines of code. Video games, for instance, follow this model, they are symbolic simulations. Programming is done by demonstration, the syntax of a programming language is avoided. Visual scripts are applied. The actual script in a programming language is in the background. The examples of such systems include Cocoa (Smith, Cypher, & Schmucker, 1996).
Among the most popular current ways of teaching coding to children is through tools such as Scratch and Tynker. These are fun programs designed to attract children and make them derive enjoyment from them, as they learn basic skills of coding. Children mostly use graphical representations of algorithms and code and put it all together. The actual script of code is written in the background (Tahnk, 2017; Smith, Cypher, & Schmucker, 1996).
Differences in Teaching Children at Different Stages of Their Education
Regardless of the differences in children, coding camps, apps, websites, and resources keep coming up from everywhere. Parents should be aware that coding does not assure children of successful future careers, and neither is it welcomed by any child. That is important to be accepted by parents. It is meant to be complementary and balanced out with other additional activities such as sports, arts, and music (Tahnk, 2017). Coding could be first learned from the early years of preschool. It is similar to reading, a form of literacy. Introducing coding concepts together with other preschool concepts is appropriate.
When parents teach their kids coding, the process allows them to provide loving and caring parental support. It also provides the majority of parents who do not know coding to learn it. They can be on the same level and learn and work alongside one another, an opportunity for fun.
From ages 3 to 5 years, the applications such as Robot Turtles, Bee-bot, Daisy the Dinosaur can be used. Robot Turtles is a board game that requires commands and makes moves to obtain the prize. Bee-bot gets children in programming enthusiasm. They use arrow controls on the toy. A child can code for 40 moves and then wait to watch the bee to follow them. Daisy, the Dinosaur, is a free iOS program that uses drag and drop steps and commands. Children can manipulate the dinosaur to go as they command it code-wise.
In ages 6 to 7, children can use programs like Scratch Jr., Kodable, and Code.org. Scratch Jr. allows kids to make stories and games using characters that they create. They can include their voices and sounds and programming material to create what characters can do. Kodable includes an alien that tries moving out of a maze in a new planet. A kid can create commands to help it navigate and earn points progressively, as it leaves the labyrinth. Code.org is a website that offers many lessons of programming for children of all levels and ages. It is more similar to game of basic algorithmic knowledge. It features video lectures from expert programmers such as Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates.
Recommended tools for kids of ages 8-10 include Sphero 2.0, Hopscotch, and Tynker. Sphero is a robotic ball that assists children to develop the interest in coding. It can be used on a smartphone or tablet. It is highly entertaining and educational, as acclaimed by critics. Reinforcing coding perceptions is useful. Hopscotch is a freeware app for iOS. It follows similar ideas of moving characters using prewritten commands. It, however, offers much more creativity. Older children can include extra characters and advance stories revolving around their code. Finally, Tynker is an online course. It is formal but is done in the comfort of the kids’ homes. Courses offered vary from a beginner to intermediate levels. The site provides a course with extensive studying, online tutorials, parent dashboard for monitoring kids, and a lifetime access to the creativity suite by Tynker (Tahnk, 2017).
Teaching children how to code is a fast-growing trend. With the future that nowadays kids face, the parents are keen to have their children know to code. It not only gives their children an edge but also offers skills useful in the digital age and society. Many individuals hold the view that the ability to write code is a necessity in this era (Tahnk, 2017). As the world progresses in the matters of technology, the skill to proficiently use computers is a critical skill for everyone to acquire. Teaching and learning creative problem-solving and critical logical thinking are important and go hand in hand with the complex usage of computer (Clements & Gullo, 1984). That breeds the need to learn to code. That applies squarely to children as they prepare for a more digital world than the current one (Missio, 2017). Schools teach programming from as early as middle and elementary schools. Such children easily learn to code later in life. Others start to learn at home from as early as three years of age (Tahnk, 2017). Such kids will have an easier time learning to code in formal settings. Countries are encouraged to revise their curriculums to accommodate programming in their syllabi. Some countries continue to incorporate coding into their school curricula, and it proves to be beneficial. Programming is an action that any kid can be into and is a useful step in learning towards a digital education and careers. Apart from filling schedules, many skills are learned during coding, both direct in a digital life and indirectly to other spheres of life (Tahnk, 2017).
Clements, D. H., & Gullo, D. F. (1984). Effects of computer programming on young children’s cognition. Journal of Educational Psychology, 76(6), 1051-1058.
Missio, E. (2017). Why kids should learn to code (and how to get them started). Retrieved from http://www.cbc.ca/parents/learning/view/why-kids-should-learn-to-code-and-how-to-get-them-started
Smith, D. C., Cypher, A., & Schmucker, K. (1996). Making programming easier for children. Interactions, 3(5), 58-67.
Tahnk, J. L. (2017). Cool products for teaching kids how to code. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jeana-lee-tahnk/neat-products-for-teachin_b_7138030.html
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