Should Kids Learn to Code
Most parents agree that in order to ensure our kids do well in today’s world, we need to teach them literacy in reading, writing and arithmetic. As our world becomes more and more digitized, it could also be argued that kids will need to have at least a basic literacy in coding. People with advanced coding skills will likely be in high demand over the next 20 years in the workforce of the future, and it’s probable that most jobs will require some understanding of how coding works.
What Is Coding?
Coding is basically the machine language that is used to tell apps, websites and other digital tools what we want them to do or which problems we want them to solve. Well-designed digital tools feel intuitive and can even seem magical as they perform complex tasks, but they all rely on code and anyone can learn the basics of coding.
How Old Do Kids Need to Be to Start Learning?
Experts say that learning to code is very much like learning a new language, so it’s no surprise that those same experts are in favour of teaching kids to code as early as possible. Starting to learn machine language early has similar benefits to starting to learn any new language at a young age. In fact, children can often pick up coding before they learn to read and write.
In the early 2000s, computer teacher J. Paul Gibson realized that children as young as 5 years old could master his basic lessons with ease. These young learners were able to create their own tic-tac-toe program based on step-by-step rules. Young children can grasp the basic concepts of algorithms, so instructors like Gibson argue that there’s no reason to wait until they reach high school before they gain literacy in the language that makes our digital world function.
Where to Learn Coding
Schools are now introducing technology tools into the classroom, but they won’t necessarily teach coding as part of their regular programming. However, with Canada, there are number of free online tutorials for all ages that include games and puzzles that make learning fun. For example, Canada Learning Code is a country-wide, non-profit that runs all types of coding classes for all ages, starting as young as 6 years old. The workshops are held across the country and are offered at a minimal cost. The program also offers courses for K12 teachers who would like to introduce coding into their curriculums.
Girls Who Code
In Canada, while women make up 50% of the workforce, they make up less than 25% of STEM workers in the country. Girls Who Code is another non-profit organization that aims to inspire girls’ and young women’s interest in coding by offering free coding clubs for girls who get the opportunity to work with facilitators in their communities. Participants can choose to collaborate on practical projects that could help develop applications that offer real-life solutions.
Coding is Fun
This article begins with an eye to tomorrow’s workforce, and organizations like Girls Who Code have a mission to increase the number of women STEM workers. But learning to code offers so much more for young people than a career opportunity. Whether they build a simple app that solves a problem or they programme a Flappy Bird game that they and their friends can play together, kids can enjoy a productive engagement while learning the basics of coding. This, in turn, teaches them to think creatively and collaboratively. Most importantly, many young people will discover that coding is a lot of fun. The skill could become a lifetime passion or may simply give them a sense of autonomy because code is demystified as they grow up in an increasingly digital world.