Coding for kids – Should they start early?

Coding for kids? Is it necessary? Forget necessity , is it even possible to teach them coding? How can we teach them “complex” programming at an age, when teaching them core subjects is a challenge in itself?

If your mind is occupied by these kind of doubts, allow us to put across our perspective.

The world has changed since the time we went to school and education is not the same anymore. There are too many subjects and new topics that students learn these days. Also, teaching has moved beyond blackboards and whiteboards to computer screens and projectors with endless possibilities. It’s time to re-think what is relevant and what is easy.

An early start with technology

In today’s high-tech world, kids are introduced to technology before they are introduced to anything that resembles a book. With all kinds of gadgets  like mobile phone, ipad, computers, etc., swarming your home, kids get acquainted with technology early.

There have been instances of toddlers responding to videos on YouTube better than the graphics in a story book. What’s even more insane is, by the time they start walking, the first thing they try to reach out for will be your mobile phone or the iPad or any other technical gadget, instead of a toy. Needless to mention how comfortable kids can get with technology.

Making ‘computer’ mainstream

Surely the education systems across the world identified the significance of computers and are including it as a mainstream subject. Schools around the world now have coding as a subject in their curriculum, which begins from as early as the 3rd grade.

The subject begins with basic information about the history of computers and device knowledge. It gradually proceeds to understanding different computer languages, or in other words, programming languages.

The subject takes centerstage from Grade VI.  Different programming languages are introduced to students in their full glory. In almost every school, this is the first time students write programs on their own, basically starting with the Palindrome or Fibonacci sequence.  

This eliminates the first fear you might have, i.e., putting the pressure of an additional subject when you introduce coding to your child..

The rising demand for programmers

Programming has taken the world by storm! It is the most in-demand, better-paying job right now. There were 7 million jobs for IT in 2015 and the demand is growing at a rate of 12%. Experts claim that it is the most important job skill of future. As you see every industry embracing the power of technology, computing and artificial intelligence, the importance of coding becomes self-evident.

A course in coding now will onset their interest into this really lucrative career, which can definitely help in making a great future. Even otherwise, learning “how to code” will simply be the most invaluable lesson your child can learn in this high-tech age.

Learning it the right way

Unfortunately,  programming, a.k.a. coding is taught in a mundane manner in most schools, with more emphasis on theory. Most students become disinterested at this point and a golden opportunity is lost.

Fortunately some in the teaching community have recognized the need to keep coding interesting. They include some trailblazers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who after much brainstorming, came up with the idea of ‘Scratch’.

Scratch is a unique platform to help young people understand the basics of coding. The platform  allows student of any age to understand coding via interactive stories, games, and animations. It breaks down coding into a myriad of interactive concepts and makes the entire program effortless and easy to understand. There are many similar platforms like Scratch that serve the same purpose.

And it is important that a student learns coding the right away, to stay relevant.

Malcolm Gladwell’s “10000 Hour Rule”

Malcolm Gladwell is a noted writer, speaker, and journalist, famous for authoring books that simplify complex social phenomena.

In his book, ‘Outliers’, which was a New York Times bestseller, he talks about the “10000 Hour Rule”, claiming it to be the key to achieve expertise in any known skill. In other words, , if you practice one particular skill for a total of 10,000 hours, you can master it. This theory has been endorsed by some of the top leaders, experts and innovators of the world.

This also establishes why learning programming from an early age is right. If you are to give something that many number of hours, starting early makes mores sense, doesn’t it?

Now, to answer the question….

Is learning programming from an early age, the right thing to do?

Our answer is a definite ‘yes’. And it should happen the right way, through the right teachers.

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