Teaching kids coding without the stimulus of a dynamic learning environment can seem intimidating. While learning how to code side by side with their peers can seem fun, kids can learn how to code at home just as efficiently. One big benefit is that the child will have all your attention, and therefore, you can ensure that they learn actively.
If you want to teach coding at home but you aren’t sure how to do it, we got you. The following tips will give you some guidelines on how to teach coding so that both the child and you have a pleasant and productive experience. Let’s start!
Get Them Motivated and Interested
Kids who don’t have the motivation or true desire to learn how to code will be reluctant and uninterested. This will make the whole teaching process much harder, especially when they have to learn at home instead of spending that time playing. That’s why you need to find the right way to boost your kid’s desire for learning how to code.
Talking about coding as writing data processing algorithms will seem to kids like the most boring skill to learn. A much better approach is to explain to young ones what they can achieve with coding and tie that to their interests.
For example, tell them how, with coding, they can create games or design websites. Playing around with coding can give them the opportunity to create something fun and unique, and that’s what you should emphasize.
Use a Suitable Programming Tool
Using an appropriate program for teaching kids how to code plays a crucial role. There are two possibilities that are most popular among parents and teachers who work with children:
Scratch is an MIT’s free programming tool that is designed for children. Its simple but very visual interface will make learning how to code less scary for children. Scratch can even be used for children who don’t know how to type yet.
Another visual block programming course you can use for younger children is Code.org. Platforms such as Scratch and Code are much easier and more fun for youngsters than text-based coding.
Even though older children can use Scratch as well, some of them can find it too “childish” so you have to opt for a different solution.
If your learner is a pre-teen or a teenager, Python can work great for them. What makes Python a perfect first programming language is its interactive shell, simple syntax, and production of readable code.
Find Out What Your Child Enjoys
Make coding fun by paying close attention to what your child enjoys most and heading into that direction. Coding has several tracks you can take, and your approach should depend on what engages the child.
Before you decide on which program you should use, go to their websites and try to assess what is the best option for your kid. In case your choice doesn’t work well, change it.
For example, if you see that Scratch doesn’t keep your child’s focus, give Code.org a try. Of course, it would be best not to shift from program to program, but it’s better to change directions than to force the child to learn.
Teaching concepts can be the toughest task, so you can make a personalized textbook with graphics. Let’s say that you are teaching conditionals, and as an example, you can use a code that determines when the player jumps in a game. Add screenshots from your child’s favorite video game (their favorite game character jumping for example) to make it even more personal.
Practice, Practice, Practice
The hands-on approach is always more effective with children. Teaching them concepts without practice won’t be very successful. Direct tutoring is what will help children understand the ways of coding.
Both Python and Scratch allow experimentation and make learning much more fun. Let the kids try different modifications of the code. Coding is all about attempts and do-over, so the sooner the kids learn that, the better.
Include a Variety of Sources
Introduce more dynamics into your home classes by using different sources of information. Children tend to have a short concentration span, and you have to retain their attention with a variety of suitable teaching tools.
Here’s what you can use to teach your kids how to code at home:
- Coding kits
- Coding books (from bookstores or online retailers)
- YouTube tutorials (there are DIY video tutorials on game development, web development, app development, etc.)
- Programming games
Interactive and diversified learning is what’s best for keeping children alert and interested in coding. Luckily, there are many different possibilities that can help you organize a fun learning environment.
Hold off with Computer Science
Let the child dip their toe in the water before you push them in to swim. Start with simple concepts and skip computer science at the beginning. Put the technical details on pause until your kids get more familiar with the basics.
The terms you can focus on are:
- Conditional statements
What you should skip at the start:
- Networking protocols (aside from simple HTTP requests)
- SQL databases (and other Domain-Specific Languages)
- Object-oriented programming
- Design patterns
If you are determined to teach your child how to code at home, there is one trait that you have to have. That trait is patience. Keep in mind that coding is a complex notion that demands time and dedication. Since your child is learning at home, there is no need that you force a lot of information on them. You have all the time in the world.
Adapt your learning schedule based on your child’s peak focus time. For example, if their concentration is best in the morning, do it then. Also, repeat the same concept or exercise as many times as they need.
If they can’t understand something, instead of getting frustrated, try to explain it in a different way. Keep your hands off the computer and let them attempt and fail on their own until they get it right. That’s the only way they can learn.
Hopefully, these tips will make your home a productive learning space and give you some help with teaching your kid how to code. Remember to allow your child to find its passion for coding since that’s what will make them interested in coding for the long-run. In case you notice that your young one has zero intention to learn, you might want to hold off with teaching until they become ready.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jessica Fender is an educational blogger and content specialist at All Top Reviews, a resource for writing websites reviews. She enjoys sharing her knowledge with students of all ages and making learning easier for them.