Teaching kids to code - benefits and how to get started

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Technology is becoming more prevalent and software engineering is revolutionising the way we do everything. Pretty much everything we use today, from the smartphone in our pocket to the smart TV with streaming services in our lounge room to the contactless payment system we use to pay for things is written by software engineers, using code.

Therefore in an age where technology is such a large part of our lives, getting our kids to learn about coding is a great way to set them up for the future and give them an upper hand.

Benefits of knowing how to code

Even if they don’t end up going into a computer science related field, coding is a fantastic skill that will help children improve their academic success and gain valuable skills in life.

Coding requires learning the ability to analyse data and apply logic, helping them visualise abstract mathematical concepts and apply maths in a real-world context. It also teaches kids important skills like perseverance, problem solving, attention to detail, critical thinking and creativity.

When is a good time to start?

The rise of visual programming languages has meant that children can get started as young as 5 years old. With tools like Tynker and Scratch , it's never been easier for kids to learn to code.

Some traditional toy manufacturers such as Lego and Fisher-Price are also recognising the importance of learning how to code and have released products specifically to teach kids about coding.

Top 5 tips for getting started

1. With younger kids, it's best to start with a visual programming tools such as Tynker or Scratch. They’re designed to be interactive and tailored to individual age groups, from solving simple logic problems for 5 to 7 year olds, drag-and-drop coding for those slightly older through to real world coding for those aged 13 years and above.

2. Kids can often find game-based learning the most engaging. We recommend looking into code.org, Code Master or CodeCombat for older kids.

3. Learning to code with toys is a great way to give your kids a break from screens. Younger kids can get started with various coding related board games and toys such as Code Master Programming Logic Game or Code & Go Robot Mouse Activity Set , while older kids can start tinkering with more complex contraptions such as the OSOYOO Raspberry Pi 3 Starter Kit.

4. Once they're a bit further along, children can get started with real world programming languages such as JavaScript in Codecademy to build websites or Swift Playground by Apple to build iPhone and iPad apps.

5. Another great option is checking out a local coding school such as Code Camp or Code Club.

With so many fun and engaging options out there, the summer holiday period is a great time to add coding to the list of school holiday activities. It allows them to spend time doing something that’s both enjoyable and educational.

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