Coding | Programming | Kids Learning to Code

Look around you and what do you see?

Computers, apps and digital technologies surround us in everything we do, and they shape our day to day decisions. Simple things like deciding on what to wear is based on what the weather app tells us every morning. We use our phones, tablets or other devices for practically everything we do. We live our lives highly dependent on digital technologies like apps to make our lives easier and efficient. They also help solve many global problems.

What about apps that talk to you, remind you, find answers for you and switch on your appliances for you? We can ask Siri to turn on our coffee machine so it’s ready to make that perfect latte first thing in the morning.

So, it is not that difficult to understand and appreciate that knowing something about what happens ‘under the bonnet’ is a good thing. Knowing how computers and apps work and being able to have conversations with computers is a huge benefit in terms of future proofing your children’s skill sets, and helping  them learn important thinking and planning skills. Fluency in computer programming languages to not just become a programmer but to be able to produce digital technology solutions that improve people’s lives is a worthy reason to take an interest in how computers work.

Coding or programming is simply understanding how to talk to a computer in the language computers understand so you can ask a computer to do things you want. For example, setting an alarm clock using a timer app to ‘make a beeping sound when it turns 6 am’ to help you wake up at a time you want to or need to get up is a great example of the simple but amazing wonders of technology.

Learning to code or program is like learning to put jigsaw puzzles together to create a complete picture. There are many steps and elements you need to put together, and this thinking process helps with critical thinking and planning. Like mapping out or brainstorming ideas then building a structure or a process or a set of steps to follow to reach the end outcome. Put it simply, programming is like a recipe, which is a set of specific instructions showing you what you need and what you need to do in sequential order, to bake that Chocolate Mud Cake or to cook food.

Starting the coding learning experience as young as preschool age is becoming a growing trend especially with coding apps specifically designed for this age group of 4 to 6 years. The coding curriculum includes unplugged activities like singing and dancing and playing games (Simon Says to doing the Hokey Pokey dance.) Why? Because these fun adventures are simple instructions packaged into fun songs and dancing. When you sing along to the Hokey Pokey song and act out the movements to ‘You put your right hand in, you put your right hand out, you put your right hand in and you shake it all about’, they are learning about following instructions (dancing) and putting instructions together (singing) which is what coding is about – telling a computer a specific set of instructions to execute.

Another important side-effect of learning coding is the resilience factor it promotes in kids especially when they face ‘bugs’ (computer errors) in their programming, and the program doesn’t quite run the way it was expected to. If the kids are expecting bugs and they understand that it’s OK to get bugs then they are better able to deal with it, and appreciate the fact that, they actually learn from the errors. When a ‘bug’ turns into a ‘Ah-ha’ moment, then the kids beam with full of confidence and want to continue programming.

Rather than spending time just playing games wouldn’t be great if the kids can learn to code their own games and build apps that others can use and enjoy.

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