Steve Jobs once said that everyone should learn how to program a computer because “it teaches you how to think”. If we are teaching other useful skills like languages, music, and sports to children, why not include coding as well?
Coding is becoming one of the most in-demand skills across all industries. Given that elementary school curricula are likely to be heavily packed with computer-related skills in the next decade, learning the basics of coding in preschool age is a great idea.
Regardless of whether a child is showing interest in computer science or not, working on the computer and witnessing technological innovations will be an important part of their environment. Luckily, kids today are using technology without any previous learning: for them, it’s completely natural to use smartphones and tablets for school and entertainment. Technology will also be an indispensable part of their career one day no matter which profession they choose.
Little ones simply adore technology and that interest should be directed to a good cause. No matter if your kid is the next Steve Jobs or not, learning how to code or at least occasionally playing with the background components of games, apps, and websites can be very useful. Learning how to code helps children develop their problem-solving abilities, creativity and communication skills.
In this article, we’re bringing you some of the best and simplest way to introduce coding and programming to children:
1. Online Tools
For children, learning how to code could be the easiest by teaching it in an environment where it’s actually done – on the computer.
If you want to teach your little one the basics of coding or you’re an educator working with preschoolers, the best way to go about it is by introducing some of the online tools specifically designed for that purpose.
The benefit of these tools is that they’re designed by experts who are knowledgeable in children’s development phases and can present the best learning steps for children of all ages.
One of the best online tools for teaching children how to code is CodeMonkey.
CodeMonkey.com features CodeMonkey Jr. – a game-based learning activity that introduces preschoolers to coding concepts in a fun and engaging way. The tool contains fully-developed programs, so kids can easily follow the curriculum and advance as they expand their knowledge.
2. Puzzles and games
Preschoolers are at a developmental stage where they start to enjoy doing puzzles and playing games where they need to find solutions and answer questions.
If you want to introduce basic concepts like algorithms, you can do that by crafting your own puzzles or cards that the kids have to arrange in the correct order. This will teach them the skills of organization, sequencing, and correctness.
You can also take a look at Pinterest boards which feature some DIY ideas on how to craft games that include coding for preschoolers.
If you’re not much of an arts and crafts person, there are loads of non-digital card games available in stores. These are games that include ready-made cards and tools that will allow your preschooler to get to know the basics of coding.
3. YouTube Videos
YouTube tutorials are a great way to learn something by watching how it’s done in real time. As adults, we have the benefit of typing in “how to make an envelope” and learning how to do it in a matter of minutes, so why shouldn’t kids do the same?
There are loads of YouTube channels and videos out there that focus on kids and feature techniques and coding games that are appropriate for their age. Do a simple search of your preschooler’s age + coding activity to find the best YouTube coding video to help them learn.
If you’re an educator, you can also find great tips on how to approach coding teaching to fit the needs of your preschoolers.
4. Take a Sneak Peek Behind the Scenes
This is a somewhat advanced method, but it can be extremely effective for older preschoolers.
Take some of your kid’s favorite games or websites and show them what it looks like in code. This way, they will realize that code is what builds their favorite websites and games and they will fall in love with it!
You can take a little snippet of code and show your preschooler what it does on the site. Remember to take it slowly and simplify as much as possible, because code can be confusing even for adults!
In order to see the code behind a website, follow these steps:
- Enter the website URL and load the page
- Right-click on the blank space on a website and select ‘View Page Source’
- Visit the Settings tool in your browser
- Open the Developer Tools section
- Click on Elements to inspect the source code of the website
Google Chrome, Mozilla and Edge even have a nifty command where you can see the source code behind any website with just one click. When you’re on the website, you simply click on CTRL + U on your keyboard and a new tab will open, showing you the source code of the website you’ve visited. If you’re using Microsoft Edge or Mozilla, you can also press F12 on your keyboard.
Coding doesn’t have to be daunting and complicated! Nowadays, there are many learning tools available that present coding in the form of a game and make learning fun and entertaining.
If you are an educator, it’s pretty convenient to introduce these tools to your group of preschoolers with the help of technology. It’s also a great common activity because the kids will feel like they are actually playing a game together.
Of course, learning to code in preschool-age doesn’t mean that a child should become the next tech whiz. It’s just a great way to learn critical thinking, logical and deduction skills. And after you start the program, you will be surprised by how well kids respond to computer science!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Bridgette Hernandez is a Master in Anthropology who is interested in writing and is planning to publish her own book in the near future. She works with professional writing companies such as TopEssayWriting and ClassyEssay as a writer, Brid also does some editing work for BeGraded and Subjecto. The texts she writes are always informative, based on qualitative research but nevertheless pleasant to read.