Coding for kids has been a hot topic in educational circles. Most parents and educators recognize the importance of computer programming (otherwise known as coding), but there are many who still feel that it is too specialized to be K-12 core curricula. There is another school of thought that believes that coding for kids is unwise, and that it is a subject better left to technology schools at the college level when students have the mathematical foundation to understand many of its complexities.
As the director of a kids coding academy, I have seen firsthand that teaching programming at an early age provides a number of important educational and developmental benefits. There is also little doubt that getting started early in one of the 21st century’s most important literacies will pay dividends as computing becomes part of nearly every profession. Here are 5 reasons why I think coding for kids is more important than parents think:
1. Coding empowers students
Coding can teach students how to control robots and machines, how to use a computer to solve complex problems, how to take creative ideas and make them interactive, and how to create things that are instantly accessible by millions of people. The possibilities for exploration, discovery, and advancement are nearly limitless, and students who gain these skills early will have a leg up in tomorrow’s world.
2. Understanding code helps explain the world
Computing is involved in nearly every part of our lives from social media to internet to communications to banking.
Computing will become even more ubiquitous in the coming decades as advances in robotics and the Internet of Things (IoT) are expected to handle many parts of our daily lives including transportation, medicine, cooking, and cleaning.
In the same way that kids study chemistry, biology, and physics to better understand the world around them, it is now imperative to learn coding to understand how the modern world works.
3. Coding for kids provides a number of early learning benefits
As early as age five children transform from perceiving their environment to making logical connections.
Coding helps reinforce logic through something educators call “procedural literacy.” As Mitch Resnick from Massachusetts Institute of Technology put it: “When you learn to code, you start thinking about processes in the world.” Many educators view procedural literacy as a critical 21st century skill that students must learn to be employable in the future.
4. Coding is a liberal art
Liberal arts has always been defined as the body of knowledge required to participate in civic life, and from its inception its trivium and quadrivium has incorporated grammar, dialect, rhetoric, arithmetic, geometry, and astronomy.
Coding for kids will soon be considered a core component of any liberal arts curricula. Now that it is apparent that machines will touch almost every aspect of civic life, forward thinking educators and administrators increasingly regard coding as a core skill that every child must learn.
5. Technology and robotics will reshape jobs of tomorrow
By the year 2020, robotics alone will eliminate an estimated 5M jobs.
But this news is not all doom and gloom.
In today’s job market, nearly 60% of jobs in math and science are computing jobs, yet only 2% of math and science students are computer science students.
There is tremendous opportunity in tech related fields which will be nearly impossible to automate and eliminate.
Parents that are interested in introducing their kids to computer programming have an increasing number of options, from after school enrichment programs, to online kids coding courses, to summer tech camps.
We believe that coding for kids is most effective when it is taught in creative environments that allow exploration and discovery.
Allowing kids to code with things that they are already interested in, like video games, apps, or Minecraft mods will increase engagement and keep them interested even when it gets challenging.
If you can create an association between coding and creativity, you may even find that your child will take to it and develop some very useful 21st century skills.