We often think of learning to code as something done by college students or those looking to learn a new skill later in life. But perhaps the most important group of people who should learn programming is kids.
Even if you don’t think your child will aspire to become a professional programmer, there are plenty of reasons they should learn to code. Here are seven great benefits of coding for kids.
1. It Teaches Vital Logic Skills
Perhaps the most important aspect of programming from a learning perspective is that it helps kids learn logic and reasoning. The core of programming is solving problems, and doing so requires a disciplined approach.
Because programming involves telling a computer what to do, you eventually learn to think like the computer over time. Debugging is a big part of this. When you run a program and the result isn’t what you expected, you can dig in and find out why. Walking through what the program did step-by-step lets you follow the logic and deduce where you made an error.
Furthermore, everything in programming is explicit. A missed semicolon or simple typo can mean the difference between a program working properly or an error message. This teaches discipline to young programmers.
Once kids find solutions to programming problems, finding ways to avoid them is another knowledge-building challenge. At a large scale, this involves creating programs that are memory and time efficient. Decreasing the complexity of your code and reducing overhead are important principles that carry over into other areas of life.
2. It Provides an Understanding of How Computers Work
Today’s kids grow up with technology all around them. While it’s one thing to know how to work an iPad, it’s something else entirely to understand how the innards of technology work.
Programming helps provide this background. By writing their own programs, kids will understand what goes into application, website, or other forms of development. Not only does this help spot bad design, it also provides more context for the world around them. They’ll understand why something isn’t working when it acts up, and know what’s going on behind the scenes of everyday tech activities.
3. Programming Is Ubiquitous
Speaking of which, coding is clearly not a niche activity. Learning to program lets you interface with many systems. You can write code to build websites, make mobile apps, or create your own video game.
But programming reaches far beyond these usual examples. Think of everything in daily life that involves software:
- Browsing social media sites
- Using the bank
- Streaming TV
- Driving a car
- Smart home products
- Shopping online
Someone had to write some amount of code to power all these systems and more. Spending some time learning about their workings seems worthwhile, doesn’t it?
4. You Learn to Work With and Build Off Others
While you can program alone, at some point everyone learning programming will have to borrow code off someone else. Usually, this isn’t stealing. In fact, it’s encouraged. If someone created a function to perform some task, it’s a waste of time to rewrite it all on your own.
This teaches kids to not only know when to look for help, but also how to adapt others’ work into their own. Taking a framework and adapting it into your own project can be as difficult as writing some other code from scratch.
In professional environments, you rarely code alone. Collaboration between team members is common, and you’ll often reuse code from a coworker or have your code implemented somewhere else. For kids working on a school project, for example, this teaches children to recognize how their code affects others and how to work closely with others.
5. Programming Lets Anyone Create
Even kids who don’t enjoy other forms of creative output, like drawing, writing, or playing music, can come up with awesome creations in code. Once they learn, they can automate computer tasks, create their own games, build websites, or do whatever else they desire. Having the power to create is vital for a child; who knows what they could come up with?
6. It Provides Job Opportunities
It’s also worth mentioning that programming jobs are massive right now, mostly because nearly every company needs one. Most industries need people to maintain websites, create new internal applications, perform quality tests, and more.
Even if your child isn’t interested in programming as a career, having a basic knowledge of how to code is valuable. Like knowing a second language, understanding programming is part of being literate in the digital era. It shows potential employers that you have those logical skills, and may give you the edge over someone else with no such experience.
7. Kids Learn Easily
If there’s any time people should learn programming, it’s while they’re young. Today’s kids already learn how to use technology effectively at an extreme rate, and many of those activities lead into programming nicely.
For instance, Minecraft is a wildly popular game that requires a lot of thinking and planning. Kids regularly build houses and other structures in Minecraft, but people have also built complex logic like calculators using Minecraft tools.
While your child has more free time and a brain that rapidly picks up new concepts, you should introduce them to coding.
How Can I Get My Kids Started?
You don’t have to go far to get your kids started with coding. We’ve covered several ways kids can learn programming at MakeUseOf:
- Start them off with Scratch.
- Try some fun coding projects on an inexpensive Raspberry Pi.
- Install some kid-centric coding apps on their phone or tablet.
- If your kids are older, introduce them to one of the easiest beginner programming languages.
- Get them to start playing these fun coding games.
Will You Teach Your Kids Coding?
We’ve taken a look at several reasons why computer programming is great for kids. Even if they aren’t interested in a career in this field, the skills that programming requires are very valuable. They’ll learn to think critically, solve problems, and better understand the technology in their world. That’s a lot of benefits!
If this has piqued your interest, check out why programming is just one of the reasons giving your kids a Raspberry Pi is a great idea.
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