My daughter is growing up in a radically different world than the one I grew up in.  By age 3, she was successfully navigating drag and drop coding games on an iPad and solving puzzle games on my phone. Meanwhile, I didn’t get my introduction to computing until middle school on the then revolutionary Apple II.

The Apple II was slow, had 4 kBs of RAM, and almost no storage capacity. Today the computer I carry around in my pocket has exactly 1 million times more processing power, and my desktop has nearly 4 million times.

While computing is quickly extending into nearly every part of our lives, many of our schools seem stuck in the 1980s and 90s. Technology classes are content to offer classes on Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. Most schools do not offer computer programming, and if they do, they offer simple drag and drop, visual block programs that do not require technical proficiency.

The time has come for a change. Here are 10 reasons why your kids should learn to code this year:

10 Reasons Why Your Kids Should Learn to Code This Year

1. Coding is one of the most widely used languages on the planet

Computer programming is a language, and as such, it is now one of the most widely used languages in the world. Seeing that most jobs involve computers and software, understanding the language that powers them is an essential new literacy. The intent of a well-rounded liberal arts education was designed to help students understand the world around them. Now that computing is intertwined with nearly every facet of our daily lives, shouldn’t it now be considered a liberal art?

2. It builds problem solving skills

Computational thinking teaches students to break down large problems into small, achievable steps. Building this skill alone is priceless, and many of our students claim that they now use this approach in general problem solving. As students learn how to write code, they will make mistakes which in turn produce bugs and other unintended outcomes. Fortunately computer programming is one of the few fields in which you can test solutions immediately. Students learn that mistakes are part of the learning process, and as time goes on they learn to have fun planning, making mistakes, thinking about solutions, and then testing them.

3. It encourages creativity

When a child’s unlimited creativity meets a tool with nearly unlimited potential, sparks fly. When presented with high quality coding curricula, children quickly find that coding is inherently creative. In CodaKid classes, our kids envision their own Minecraft “mods” (short for modifications) and then create them using Java. Other students will be drawn towards designing and then coding their own webpage or app. Others will have an idea for a video game and can learn how to bring their vision to life.

10 Reasons Why Your Kids Should Learn to Code This Year

4. It strengthens academic skills

Coding strengthens a child’s understanding of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, and physics. At more advanced levels coding introduces trigonometry and calculus concepts. Applying math to real world situations has always been a weakness in many math programs, and coding makes this not only possible but practical, tactile, and even fun. Coding also strengthens a student’s reading and spelling ability, while teaching students valuable keyboarding skills.

5. It helps improve focus and concentration

Having taught over ten thousand of kids to code, we have had the benefit of receiving feedback from hundreds of parents about the ways in which coding has helped their children. In an age where attention deficit issues are widespread, coding incentivizes children to stay focused and concentrate. High quality coding courses provide the ultimate “carrot stick” relationship. Kids know that if they stay focused, master coding concepts, and execute them without errors, they will be rewarded with an awesome custom creation that they can try out and play with their friends.

10 Reasons Why Your Kids Should Learn to Code This Year

6. It teaches perseverance and builds patience

When students use high quality computer science curricula, they will experience bugs, exceptions, and other unintended consequences. Students that are easily frustrated learn quickly that bugs and errors are part of the development process. Learning how to locate and debug these errors requires patience and perseverance, and students will often experience a deep sense of satisfaction upon solving these problems.

7. It builds confidence

Twenty years ago coding was seen by mainstream America as nerdy and uncool. Stereotypes were invented about its practitioners wearing “pocket protectors” while sporting spectacles and hiked up pants.  Fast forward to 2017, and coding is now not just cool – but some kids even view it as giving its practitioners super powers. It doesn’t hurt that kids know that the brains behind their favorite pastimes – YouTube, SnapChat, Minecraft are all software developers. Once kids develop the skills to build real software, games, and apps, they become heroes on the playground. It’s a great self-esteem boost.

10 Reasons Why Your Kids Should Learn to Code This Year

8. It is easier to learn when you’re young

A simple truth – computer programming is a second language. Just like Spanish, French, or Mandarin; it is easier to learn when you are young.

9. It help kids get prepared for the jobs of tomorrow

Futurist Cathy Davidson and her team believe that over 65% of elementary school students will end up in jobs that don’t even exist yet. Many of these jobs will involve technology, and students who are well-prepared with technical skills will stand the best chance of success.

10. It is FUN!

Back in the old days, coding was taught using the “Hello World” method where kids used to print the words “Hello World” on a screen. While this was exciting for us, today’s kids get even more exciting introductions. Students can now take introductory courses to make a custom mod for Minecraft, program their own mini-game in Roblox, code their own drone, or build their own 3D game with exciting tools like the Unreal Engine. The sky is the limit.

10 Reasons Why Your Kids Should Learn to Code This Year

Conclusion

Like it or not, our kids are growing up in a world where rapid technological change is the new norm. A good education no longer teaches us to memorize facts, as facts are available at our fingertips. Education is now about locating reliable information, solving current problems, predicting future problems, working on disciplinary teams, and adapting to change.

The next 25 years will see rapid innovations in machine learning, artificial intelligence, and Internet of Things (IoT). Behind all of these marvelous advances one will find computer programmers, designers, and architects clunking away on keyboards, while charting new pathways that humans will rely on for the next century.

Teaching your kids coding now will give them a fluency in the systems and architecture of tomorrow’s world. Even if they don’t end up as developers themselves, the skills they will learn will pay dividends in nearly every career path on the planet.

Have any other thoughts on the benefits of coding for kids? Please leave them in the comments below!

3 Comments

  1. AvatarTheresa Bradley on October 17, 2017 at 2:39 pm

    I do believe that coding is essential to the learning process. My question is how do I get more information and/or courses to evolve my child who is a teenager now???

    • David DodgeDavid Dodge on October 17, 2017 at 6:42 pm

      Hi Theresa, Our Game Programming 1 course is quite good for teens, and we will have 3 new courses coming out in 3 weeks that will also be quite good. For free options, you might consider Code.org and khanacademy.org. Another option is to look for some courses on Udemy or Coursera. I would suggest courses that he/she is interested in rather than finding purely academic courses. Project-based courses are my favorites for teens. Hope this helps!

  2. AvatarPriya on March 2, 2018 at 5:27 am

    Java is still the number one preference of a very large number of young and experienced professional across their globe. In fact, many have found it one of the finest programming languages despite being a lot of competition in the technology.

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