5 Practical Tips for Non-Techy Parents that Want to Teach Their Kids to Code
Today’s kids are more fluent in technology than their parents. As digital natives, they are intuitive when it comes to handling tech gadgets, and more receptive to learning different kinds of software. Undoubtedly, this gives them a definite advantage over previous generations.
However, it doesn’t magically turn them into IT experts.
Hard work is required in mastering any new skill, computer programming included. But when you add some fun to it, it is possible to teach kids to code and have a blast in the process.
Coding for kids has become insanely popular and there are many great reasons for youngsters to try it: from cognitive development benefits to acquiring real world skills and preparing for the future job market.
The list could go on.
If you’re a non-techy parent, it may be challenging to keep up with your kids and truly support them in achieving their full potential in the world of computer science. However, there are some proven practical approaches to support your kids and learn a few things yourself along the way – even if at first, those lines of code seemed like hieroglyphes.
1. Let Your Kids Learn at Their Own Pace
At CodaKid, we usually recommend that kids start learning how to code using visual block programming. It’s pretty logical: these types of user-friendly languages enable kids to easily get a grip on many coding concepts, such as methods and variables, and the basics of syntax.
Scratch and Blockly are two of the famous visual programming languages that simplify the process of creating something new. They are recommended as beginners’ languages not only because of the gentle learning curve, but also because they help kids fall in love with code and stay persistent. They remove the issues typical of textual coding.
The drag-and-drop technique is perfect for learning how sequences work. By arranging coding blocks in the correct order, kids gradually learn how lines of code transfer into real action, right there, on screen.
Both Scratch and Blockly offer great creative freedom and encourage experiential learning, which is one of the best ways to fully comprehend a certain skill. Blockly gamifies the process of learning and gives kids interesting tasks and challenges to solve through the correct order of blocks; Scratch enables them to create their own stories and share them with others online.
Does this mean your kids must start with visual programming, and then move to text-based coding? Not necessarily.
Each child has their own unique way of learning. The way they progress is highly individual. Some kids move past visual coding pretty fast or they insist on learning text coding from the very beginning.
Bottom line? You should listen to your kids, let them learn at their own pace and freely explore different languages, so they can define what interests them the most.
2. Games Are Not Just for Fun
Being a parent is not an easy job, especially when you constantly worry about the well being of your child. The generation gap is very tangible in this context: while your childhood consisted of play pretending and spending a lot of time outdoors, today’s kids are often in front of screens. They socialize in a different way and care about different things, which is normal and expected.
It can be tempting to ban them from playing games or give them a very limited screen time, simply because of the fear it might be negatively influencing them. The truth is, screen time can be healthy and productive, while playing games remains one of the most popular activities that can be educational.
Having an open mind is crucial here. Learning to code through playing games has proven to be extremely effective. Take Minecraft and Roblox as the best examples: these two are the most renowned sandbox-based games that now have hundreds of millions of users around the world. They allow users to alter game elements and interact with other players online, or to develop their own, independent games, step by step.
In fact, scientific research has proven that incorporating video games into classrooms can result in better and more thorough learning progress, no matter the subject. The use of digital media in education is gaining momentum and it’s great because students can learn at different speeds while actually enjoying soaking in new knowledge.
It’s important to realize games are not bad, nor is technology. In fact, both can be very useful and educational for kids, especially in terms of teaching them how to code.
3. Don’t Impose Your Personal Ambitions
Needless to say, kids’ perspective and perspective adults have on the reasons why coding makes a great activity, are very different.
Kids are typically more immersed in the moment; they don’t think too much or too far ahead when it comes to acknowledging the benefits of knowing how to code. They simply enjoy playing games; they value the experience of learning through overcoming different challenges.
Kids love the sense of excitement and adventure as they take the role of someone who is creative and in charge of what happens next. Coding knowledge gets its tangible, powerful form when kids see what they can make, and that positively influences their perception of learning. Being the “smartest kid” suddenly becomes cool.
Coding helps kids strengthen their inductive reasoning skills as they start drawing general conclusions from their personal experiences. This gives them a feeling of achievement and provides a sense of accomplishment, which motivates them to keep learning.
Parents, on the other hand, can easily slip into making a mistake of being too pushy and putting too much pressure on their kids. It’s not a secret that a coding career is very perspective and profitable. For computer programmers, average wages are around $61K, but the figure can really hit the roof for programming languages that are in high demand.
Financial stability is important and all parents have this inborn concern about their kids’ future. However, you shouldn’t be too bossy. This can actually be counter effective and turn your kids away from computer science. Allow your kids the autonomy to explore and find coding projects they are genuinely interested in.
4. Combine Learning and Bonding Time
Coding for kids goes beyond building technical skills. Youngsters also strengthen their critical and creative thinking, they build up their cognitive skills and practice divergent way of approaching problems, while also learning how to strategically communicate and work within a team.
Most importantly, coding helps kids nurture curiosity and gradually build a strong character, all of which helps them become healthy and creative adults.
Learning how to program can start as a hobby and fun way for kids to spend their free time, but it can also become their life calling. In any case, kids are likely to get excited about the vast creation possibilities that coding allows. Chances are, they will want to share what they’ve learned with their parents.
To amplify your child’s learning efforts, try to be present and devote time to actively listening about their accomplishments so far. Kids will always seek your approval. Positive attention is important for their self-image and future learning progress.
Plus, if you’re not that tech savvy, simply by bonding with your kids, you can learn a thing or two about coding yourself. Computer science can turn into a shared activity and you’ll get a chance to take both roles in the learning process – as a student and as a teacher.
Keep in mind that kids are interested in making awesome stuff, not learning how to code. They want to see results of their efforts, not brag about skill levels.
5. Find Credible Coding Courses to Teach Kids to Code
With so many great kid-friendly resources for learning how to code, it’s hard to decide which one is the best for your child. Of course, you should always let your kids decide on the field of computer programing they want to learn and try to find creative projects that are of interest to them.
Some kids are more interested in game development, others want to build apps or make beautiful websites. Sometimes, they think they want to learn all about game design and when they give it a try – they discover it’s not really their thing.
As a non-techy parent, you might find yourself in an unenviable position, torn between giving your kids freedom to choose their own field of interest and guiding them in the right direction, i.e. finding credible coding courses. Asking yourself these questions might help you assess the course you’re thinking of enrolling your child in:
- What is my child’s learning style?
- What is the budget I’m prepared to invest in my child’s coding education?
- What type of testimonials does the coding course in question have?
- Who are the educators and what is their professional experience?
- What support do the educators provide for their students?
For the complete guide to choosing the perfect coding course for your kid, you can check our comprehensive list of helpful questions.
If you’re not sure where to start, check out CodaKid’s online courses offering: you can try it for free for 14 days to see if it’s a fit.
We hope you enjoyed our article on how to teach kids to code as a non-techy. What are some of your biggest challenges of teaching a tech-savvy kid? We want to hear from you: share in the comments below!