Coding has been one of the hottest topics in education today, and rightfully so! As more careers involve computer science and coding, students who can write code are more competitive job candidates than those who can’t.
Kids also learn how to solve problems with critical thinking and creativity. Despite this, most schools don’t teach kids how to code until middle school, but there are many benefits to getting kids started early.
Having kids learn how to code in the early stages of their education will give them a huge advantage in their future careers, as well as help to strengthen math and science skills that will help them throughout their life.
Let’s dive into why coding in kindergarten can be beneficial and what it involves.
What is Coding?
Coding is a process of writing instructions for the creation of computer software, websites and apps. Surprisingly, kindergarteners can understand basic coding concepts and can develop skills that come in handy.
These children are not taught traditional lenguajes de programación but are introduced to the basic concepts required to code in any language through fun activities.
Some parents might say that young children need other activities to help them develop, like open-ended play or reading. However, coding is becoming an increasingly important part of the school curriculum, and experts have found that kids who learn it early develop vital skills.
Codes instruct a computer or robot how to do something. By speaking the same coding language, you and the computer can understand each other. Almost everything that uses technology- websites, games, robots- uses a coding language.
There are several different coding languages, but for kindergarteners, we focus on directional coding and block coding.
How Do You Teach Kindergarten Kids Coding?
There are tons of ways you can introduce coding to kids in kindergarten. It depends on your comfort level, the tech and tools at your disposal and how interested your kids are.
We’re going to walk through the different ways you can introduce coding to your kids, and hopefully, this should help you figure out what works best for your child.
- Computer-less coding
Computerless coding is the act of teaching how to code without any tech. This is a great way to get kindergarten started with coding if you don’t have the tech or resources.
- Directional Coding
Directional coding can be a game played with any object you want, but for this example, it could be a hamster and some lettuce. The game’s goal is to get the hamster from the start point to the end, which is the lettuce.
You can use any arrows you want to help guide the hamster along its way, but you have to be careful not to let it fall off the edge of the grid. Directional coding works great for groups of kindergarten students.
- Unplugged coding
This method allows teachers to decide what works best for their classroom, but it is also non-tech, requires more preparation and allows students to work individually.
It’s best used when you have a small number of kids in your class that are very interested in coding or have been introduced to it before. For example, they simply place a start and end card and then use the arrows to create a path. This can be used all year long with different cards.
- Technology-Laden Coding
Technology-laden coding uses apps that guide kids to create paths and write code. It’s an easy way to introduce technology but relies heavily on time and resource access.
Remember that these programs can often get very technical, so they might be best suited for upper kindergarten or first-grade students instead.
Elements of Programming That Support Kindergartens
Pre-readers can get a lot out of programming, too. There are a few key elements of programming that support pre-readers.
One such element is repetition. Repetition helps pre-readers learn new material by reinforcing it multiple times. In programming, this is done through loops. Loops allow you to repeat a certain set of code multiple times, making it an effective tool for teaching pre-readers new material.
Another key element for pre-readers is visual cues. In programming, these come in the form of comments and variable names.
Comments help explain what a piece of code does, while variable names make it easy for pre-readers to follow the flow of a program by providing labels for different pieces of information.
Another key element for teaching kindergarten how to code in sequence. For a kindergartner to code, they need to understand the order of instructions. For example, to print the word “hello” on a screen, a kindergartner would need to know that they need to type “hello” and then press the enter key.
One way to teach sequence is to use sequencing cards. Sequencing cards have a picture on one side and a sentence on the other. The sentence will describe the order of the pictures.
Another key element for teaching kindergarten how to code is counting and problem-solving. For kindergarten to write code, they need to be able to count and understand basic math concepts.
For example, one needs to be able to count how many spaces are in a line of code to ensure your code is correctly formatted. They also need to be able to solve basic math problems to write code that performs a specific function.
Block Coding With an App
As your kids gain confidence with block coding, they may begin to explore CodeMonkey JR. It is an excellent platform for kids to hone their coding abilities.
They won’t require much instruction on using this tool if they’ve used the CodeMonkey website and know a little about coding. Even if they’ve never done block coding before, this would be an excellent time to teach them before allowing students to use it.
It will help them get acquainted with block coding and may spark an interest in how coding works. This is especially important for kids who don’t love school and might otherwise not be as interested in learning to code.
The Benefits of Coding for Kindergarten
Coding is beneficial to kindergarteners for a variety of reasons.
- Problem-solving skills
First, coding helps to develop problem-solving skills. In order to code a program, kids must identify a problem and then figure out the steps necessary to solve it. This teaches them to be systematic and creative in their thinking.
- Improve math and sequence skill
Coding also helps to improve math skills. Kids must understand basic concepts like addition and subtraction to write code. They also learn about sequencing, which is an important skill for math.
- Visual-spatial skills
Coding can help improve visual-spatial skills. Programming is an inherently visual and spatial pursuit. Kids must analyze how blocks and lines interact to ensure that commands are executed properly.
This helps them develop skills needed for reading graphs, patterns, and shapes. The act of programming also requires a great deal of focus and concentration; kids who code will have an easier time focusing on school work, which means fewer distractions in class.
- Self-expression and communication
Coding is expressive as well. It allows children to express themselves through code just as they would through painting or writing poetry. Moreover, coding enables children to share their thoughts and ideas in a way accessible to everyone–even those who don’t speak English.
- Acceptance of mistakes
Children who code can see that failure can be a good thing and that it’s okay to make mistakes. This helps them learn and grow in other areas of their lives. Focusing on their own challenges related to the creation makes them less likely to feel the need to be perfect. This gives them room to experiment and learn from their mistakes.
- Practicing softcore skills
Coding starts with tinkering – exploring new things and playing around until you get something right. When you’re learning to read, you start by sounding words out phonetically until you become fluent. When learning to code, children first play around until they master the basics and then move on to more complex projects.
Kids who code tend to do better in school because they learn valuable skills such as patience, persistence, and self-confidence. These softcore skills are increasingly essential in today’s society. Skills that we can instill at a young age.
Coding is one important skill to learn in the 21st century, and it’s never too early to start learning. It teaches kids how to think creatively and logically, solve problems, and work collaboratively with peers. These skills are crucial for success in both school and life.
It also teaches kids about technology at a very early age and encourages them to take an interest in STEM careers or entrepreneurship. Starting coding from a young age is key to lifelong success!