How to Engage Kids in Learning to Code

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Children absorb information like sponges – that’s a commonly known fact. And what exactly they will absorb depends solely on what parents and teachers decide to feed them.

While there are obvious and popular choices to be offered – like arts, sports, and foreign languages, there’s also one that you probably haven’t thought of: coding.

Coding, or computer programming, is getting increasingly popular not only as a “serious” profession for adults, but also as a beneficial activity for kids, even the young ones. And that’s not happening without a reason.

Firstly, programming can be a good choice considering career opportunities, as it pays well and offers bright perspectives. According to Glassdoor, an average yearly salary of a software developer (programmer, or coder) is around $77,000 as of August 2020, and engineering manager currently earns around $92,000 a year, Statista reports. Not bad, isn’t it?

But even if your child is not going to favor coding as a future career choice, there are still many reasons to try to engage them in this occupation because, secondly, programming is an amazingly beneficial pastime for any person.

These are just some of the positive effects that coding produces on a child’s development. Learning to code:

  • Teaches problem solving;
  • Increases creativity; 
  • Feeds curiosity; 
  • Helps develop math skills;
  • Helps understand the modern world and how it functions;
  • Betters overall academic performance. 

So, if your child is regularly struggling with typical school assignments, it may be better not to press him or her too hard and, instead, approach the problem from a different angle.

Of course, even if parents are well aware of the advantages of learning to code for their children, it may not always be easy to persuade the kids to actually try it. But however sceptical your children may be towards this occupation, we know some tricks that will most probably help you get them engaged. Try and see for yourself! 

how to engage kids in learning to code

Explain the Connections Between Coding and Everyday Life

In the XXI century, our everyday life is unimaginable without computers. So, it’s hard to find a city child who doesn’t have the faintest idea of how they work and how much they mean. 

Being naturally inquisitive, children are always asking questions, especially the ones starting with “how” and “why”. So, your kids have probably already asked you a “how does it work?” question. Considering the number of things that are controlled by computers and use computer codes, there are a lot of occasions when coding can be mentioned in a casual conversation.

This can be a starting point for a further, more detailed, discussion.

Show Them How Exactly Something Interesting Works 

From an ATM to a washing machine, from an animated cartoon movie to a toy robot – there are plenty of interesting items that use code. Depending on your offspring’s age, you can choose from a wide variety of options to explain how something interesting functions. 

If you don’t know how to explain such things yourself, watch a documentary together – luckily, there are hundreds of them on YouTube nowadays. Rarely will child resist the temptation to see how his or her favorite movie characters were brought to life by programmers! And if a kid is old enough to LEGO apps, it may be just as easy as giving him/ her a toy as a present.

Introduce Them to the Actual Code

For older kids, showing actual pieces of code and letting them try a hand at it might work best. The easiest example can be a simple website. If you have some basic knowledge of how it works, show a source code and then make some alterations to it to illustrate the immediate effect.

Also, a great way to introduce children to real coding is through games. Play coding games online, or show them source codes for primitive old games, and then offer to write one of their own. For a start, you can go to CodeMonkey and sign up for a course.

For teens, try Python: programmers recommend it as one of the easiest to understand programming languages for beginners.

Debunk the Myths 

Last, but not least: we all know that unattractive stereotype of a nerd who’s always sitting on a chair staring into a monitor. For many kids, this is what they’d never want to be, for any money in the world. So, they may decide that if that is how a typical programmer looks, then programming is not for them. All your efforts to engage such kids in coding will be crashing against this stereotype. 

So, start with debunking this myth. Show your kids real coders who live normal lives, have families and hobbies and don’t look as shabby as the nerds from memes on the internet. The children’s attitude towards coding will most likely change after they’ll see the real picture.  

Wrapping Up 

Learning to code is one of the most beneficial occupations in the modern world. Apart from being quite useful for a rewarding future career in tech, it has a lot of other advantages for children and teens. 

Still, it’s not a good idea to try to push your kids into learning programming by force. But if you really do your best to engage them in learning it by showing how interesting and useful it is both for career and everyday life, your kids will most likely give it a try. And then… who knows?   

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Victoria Davis is an experienced journalist and essay helper who works for Essayhub. Having written numerous articles on the topic, she has expert knowledge of the subject. Apart from work, she is a mom who likes to travel and learn new things.

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