Kids Need Coding Skills
for the Modern World and Workforce

See also: Supporting Children's Informal Learning

They say you don’t need to know how a combustion engine works to drive a car, but there’s a significant difference between someone who knows how to use a smartphone app and someone who knows how to build one. The future belongs to the people who can design and create digital products.

Mobile apps are not going away any time soon. Over a billion people worldwide own a smartphone, a number that continues to rise without an end in sight. Parents looking for a fun and productive activity to prepare their children for the future should look for coding for kids programs.

Two young children with a laptop.

Please keep reading for more information about why the future belongs to digital natives who learn coding at a young age.

Kids are Primed to Learn Languages

Kids’ minds are receptive to absorbing languages at a young age, and coding is a language just like English or French. Even from the time a child is seven, they are ready to begin learning programming languages to develop applications.

Starting with Alice or Scratch, kids coding skills can then progress to making video games using real programming languages professionals rely on, such as:

  • Java
  • Python
  • C#
  • C++
  • Unity

Kids will immediately relate to these languages because they’re used to create some of their favourite video games. For example, AngryBirds uses Java. C++ powers World of Warcraft.

It’s easier to learn languages when you’re young, and kids will have extra incentive to dive in when the lessons are fun, and the rewards are easy to understand immediately.

Coding in TDSB

There was a time when encouraging kids to learn coding was eccentric and vaguely futuristic, but that’s no longer the case. It’s so widely recognized that coding benefits young kids that the Toronto District School Board now offers coding instruction.

Schools help to align future generations for a changing workforce. However, it’s difficult for children as young as six or seven to learn to code when they have as many as 20 kids in a class.

Kids need special attention whenever they’re learning a skill, especially one as new to them as coding. Look for programs with a very low ratio of student to teacher. Some programs have a maximum of four children per teacher, which gives each student the best learning opportunity.

Coding Skills Teach Math Skills

Don’t tell the kids this, but the coding classes they’re loving are secretly teaching them math! It’s impossible to learn coding without also learning some math skills — coding classes are to math what the yummy-flavoured coating is to medicine.

Kids will learn everything from basics like counting integers to 3D vectors and trigonometry. Coding real video games requires this level of math knowledge, and accessible applications of math make children excited to learn real-world skills.

To be sure, any programming course you send your child to should be fun, but that’s just the thing — when your kid uses math skills to invent video games, there’s no difference between fun and learning.

Learn from a Coding Guru

How intense should programming sessions for kids be? On the one hand, they need to absorb practical skills. But there’s also a danger that too dense or strict sessions will discourage them from learning more.

Look for coding classes taught by “coding gurus” genuinely keen on the subject. They should be Computer Science or Computer Engineering students with vast experience learning and teaching these subjects.

Children shouldn’t learn from older university professors who aren’t as likely to relate to kids. Young adults who have studied and, in many cases, even taught coding for years have the best mix of relatability and domain knowledge.

On a basic level, they’re way more likely to be familiar with the video games the kids want to learn, as they may have been playing them themselves just years ago. Students can tell when the teacher has a passion and first-hand experience in what they teach, translating to better sessions.

Early Experience Leads to Concrete Results

Learning coding from a young age can help in direct and indirect ways. Learning programming skills, math, and more can help provide a foundation for further growth in unrelated disciplines.

But many children who learn coding from a young age go on to study it in university and take it up as their profession afterwards. Exposing kids early on to the coding languages professionals use gives them an advantage over other students, even those with programming skills.

Avoid programs with many students per class. Not only is it harder for the teacher to give each child the attention they deserve, but they also tend to teach easier drag-and-drop programs rather than real programming languages. It’s difficult to manage a class of so many young students and teach them new skills, but this problem doesn’t exist when sessions have fewer students.

Look for a program where graduates have gone on to study Computer Engineering in university and have gotten jobs at companies like Microsoft, Shadow Blaze Games, and Wind Jester Games.

Online Functionality

While it’s important to find a programming class that has operated for years, it must be safe for COVID-19, which means instruction must be online. The best programs have new technology specifically designed to make online teaching more effective.

The program you pick should have a Learning Management System and Screen Sharing Software. Everyone is adjusting to life in a pandemic, but a willingness to be flexible and patient isn’t always enough.

The right online equipment lets parents and students chart their progress in the course, access resources, and take advantage of home-learning opportunities between classes.

It’s hard to know what the future holds, but there’s a good chance it will be written in code! Do you want your child to use apps and play video games or build them? Ensure your kids are ready for what’s to come with fun and stimulating coding sessions that they’ll look forward to every week.

About the Author

Rob Teitelman write blogs and copy for small startups, family run service providers and national companies across North America. As an entrepreneur, Rob can relate to the struggles, challenges and obstacles businesses and their owners need to overcome, particularly in the digital space. He is a recreational musician, amateur photographer, and avid fan of tech and gadgets.