If your kid has taken up coding, perhaps in order to become a games programmer, perhaps as a hobby, or perhaps as part of a school project, then let your kid find their own way. You can help if added hardware is needed, but don’t be fooled by requests for high-powered machines since people have been coding since the days when Windows meant things you look through rather than a computer operating system. Also, beware of your kid falling for expensive subscriptions to programming software and groups because there are always free versions. If your kid is using paid programs at school, you don’t have to buy them at home, especially since some can be very expensive. Either way, now the warnings are out of the way, let’s get on with some more advice about kids and coding.
Teaching Coding to Kids
Let’s assume that your kids have not taken up coding by themselves, but you are looking to teach your kid about coding and programming. The first piece of advice is that you take it slowly and you allow your kid to get bored and/or show no interest.
It is very important that you do not try to force coding on your kids because you will scare them away from it forever. There is a time in a person’s life when they are ready to learn about coding. If your kid shows no interest or finds your lessons frustrating and/or too difficult, then leave it a few years and try again. Many children are unwilling to sit at a computer for hours working on code. If your kid shows any sort of reluctance, then try again when he or she is a teenager and is therefore more amenable to sitting around for long periods in front of a computer screen.
Introduce The Concepts and Kids Games
Remember that the idea of coding and programming is probably pretty alien to your kids. You may have to spend some time explaining what coding is all about and how the concepts function. This is a tricky area to approach because there are some YouTube videos that seem to offer very good explanations to us as adults, but will only muddy the waters for children, so be careful how you approach and introduce the subject.
Start Teaching With Practical Examples
You may be tempted to get into the theory right away, but that is often a mistake. When you teach a kid how to write, you want to teach them the alphabet to give them a foundation to build on, but that is not how it works with programming. When you teach coding to kids, you need to dive right in there with practical examples. Show them how what they do in the coding program results in the “Hello World” message appearing on screen.
Move On to Coding Games
In order to keep things simple, you should consider finding a few coding games. There are plenty to choose from, which means you can tailor the experience to the skill level of your children. There are even some that explain the basic concepts of programming, but again, this is an area where it may get a little more confusing. For example, some kids play the games explaining the concepts and are then a little taken-aback when real coding turns out to be a bunch of characters and numbers on a screen. Also, beware of letting your kids pick the games themselves because they will often go for the games that look the most fun, even if those games are much too advanced for them to understand.