As discussions about bolstering STEM education in the United States continue, many people are turning their attention to teaching kids how to code.
With the economy shifting to place more emphasis on technology, it’s clear that coding could soon become an essential skill. Teaching kids to code at a young age can prepare them for future changes.
And the real fact is that it’s not so hard to get them excited about learning to program if you know how to spark this interest around them.
Here are 10 ways to motivate your child to learn to program so that you can encourage the skill development of your young coder and watch them thrive in this exciting field.
- Get Your Kid To Understand That Coding Is All About Creativity
Let them understand that coding is an opportunity to be creative, solve problems, and bring your ideas to life. It’s a chance to use math and science to pursue something you’re passionate about. Inspire them not to be discouraged by the “computer nerd” stereotype because coding is for everyone.
Kids who like to create things will enjoy coding, as it allows them to be creative and build things with code. Keeping the learning process fun is important, so kids don’t get discouraged. Some kids naturally pick up programming concepts more quickly than others, but everyone can enjoy coding if it’s presented in a fun and engaging way.
- Explore Your Child’s Passion
Coding can be used for many different purposes, from creating programs to designing robots. Many other options exist if students don’t enjoy one specific coding area. Lego Mindstorms, Sparki, and CodeMonkey are just a few kits available to those interested in coding and robotics.
Readers can build Web sites to post reviews of the books they read. Sports fans can use coding to create websites that track their favorite players’ or teams’ stats. Coding can be a new way for your students to bring their ideas to life based on things they already enjoy doing.
- Encourage Exploration
Find tools that give your kids plenty of room to experiment without needing constant instruction. Letting them explore and figure things out for themselves is a crucial part of a coder’s world.
Encourage students to think creatively and experiment with coding. Be on the lookout when they struggle with a particular app or concept. Learning to code can be challenging, but it’s also a lot of fun. Join in the fun and see what you and your child can create together.
Daisy the Dinosaur: This simple iPad app will excite kids about having the ability to make a character on-screen move by giving basic commands. With younger children, it is great as an introduction to coding, but it may only keep older children’s attention for a short time.
CodeMonkey: This programming education platform teaches coding through a gamified interface. It offers a variety of courses that teach different programming languages, such as HTML, CoffeeScript and Python.
Hopscotch: This app is a blast and lets kids get creative with drawing and animation. With lots of different characters to choose from, kids can make all kinds of programs that they can share with friends via e-mail.
- Try As Much as You Can To Make Programming a Fun Activity
Problems are like puzzles waiting to be solved, and many coders choose workplaces that offer them a variety of puzzles to solve. If students enjoy any of the apps or learning tools listed above, they can be encouraged to explore how they work and find different ways to use them. Making puzzle games a regular activity can help keep students engaged in creative problem-solving.
Children who enjoy creative problem-solving may find themselves interested in coding at some point in their lives, even if they aren’t interested in it now. Introducing kids to coding can open up a whole new world of possibilities for them, not just in the future but also with the enjoyment they can get from having new tools to create today.
However, it’s important to remember that not every child will be interested in coding. Some may prefer other activities that use creativity and logic.
- Enroll Them in a Coding Class
Investing in a coding class or free activities like “hour of code” is an amazing way to get your child interested and motivated about programming. There are many options for various age groups, including preschool, elementary, and high school.
With these classes, children will learn how to code and be introduced to computer science principles such as algorithms and problem-solving skills. If you have an older child, invest in a book or lesson series that you can use together.
These resources are great for learning about programming on your own time and at your own pace. If your child is a bit younger, enroll them in a computer science after-school program.
These programs will get them comfortable around computers while also helping them build skills they will find useful as they dive more into coding.
- Get Inspired by People in the Industry
The world of computer programming is constantly growing, and there’s no better motivation for your child than seeing people in the industry being creative and successful.
Several notable figures you can use as inspiration- one of our favorites is Linus Torvalds, founder of Linux: he studied at Stanford University before dropping out to work on his project full-time with other programmers. Or take Bill Gates: he dropped out of Harvard University to pursue Microsoft with his friend Paul Allen.
Other famous figures include Mark Zuckerberg, who attended Harvard and started Facebook in 2004; Steve Jobs, who founded Apple Inc. after dropping out of Reed College after six months; and Elon Musk, co-founder of Tesla Motors and SpaceX as CEO of SolarCity.
You can ignite a spark within your child with basic knowledge about these tech giants.
- Acknowledge Your Child’s Progress
One of the essential things about your kid learning any new skill is that you need to acknowledge the child’s progress. Showing your child that you are proud of them will help them feel motivated to learn and make a good impression on others.
It is important not just when they are struggling with even basic coding concepts but also when they are succeeding, as it can be easy for kids to get discouraged if they feel like nothing is going their way.
Make them understand that significant progress takes a while and that you’re happy with their small wins.
- Help Them Find Their Learning Style
There are many different ways of teaching programming, but before selecting the best learning style for your child, you should determine their learning style.
Learning styles often relate to how a person takes in and processes information. For example, some people learn better when seeing and hearing something, while others prefer reading or even touching.
How do I know my child’s learning style? Some signs that might point towards one type of learning style over another are: do they have a good attention span, or would they rather go off by themselves?
Are they more visually oriented (coding games could be the best here) or more verbally oriented (talking about things)? How much time does it take to feel comfortable with an activity or new information?
You’ll have to ask yourself some of those questions so you can better understand the style to adapt.
- Have Them Watch Coding Videos
Finding ways to keep your child inspired to learn programming may seem daunting, but you can do many simple things to make coding more interesting.
For instance, if your child is reluctant to sit down and work on programming problems, they might be more interested in watching videos of other people solving the same problem or exploring coding challenges online. CodeMonkeys’ official Youtube channel is a great resource to explore the subject.
Giving them a sense of community with their peers who share the same interests can often be enough to inspire them. You could also encourage them by giving small rewards every time they complete one of these tasks.
- Make Coding a Social Activity
Encourage your kids to participate in coding projects as a team. This will help them learn from one another and stay engaged in the activity. Group coding projects can be done online with other students from around the world, or you could create a project for them to work on together.
Let them know how much fun it is working with others. There’s nothing quite like collaborating with a team to help solve complex problems and create great things.
You might be wondering why it’s important for your child to learn to program. Well, it’s not just because you want them to have a skill they’ll use later in life, but also because it can help them develop skills they might not otherwise develop.
For example, children motivated by video games may enjoy learning programming because of how much they enjoy it. Other children might find that the problem-solving aspect of programming is something they’re good at and enjoy doing.
If your child enjoys themselves more as they learn more about programming, then keep at it! The key to motivating your child to do anything is finding out what motivates them and using those motivations to motivate them even more.