Not too many years ago, it was unthinkable, but now it happens: bookstores (physical or virtual) are full of books and stories to introduce young children to programming.
It was previously stated that “computers are the future.” But now they are the present. More and more programmers are needed for different tasks, programming languages, development of web applications, desktop or mobile apps, etc.
They say that when our children are adults, many will work in professions that do not exist today. I agree, and I think that many of those professions will have to do with programming applications for different types of devices.
So, why not teach them from a very young age some basic concepts and ideas, in a fun way? Maybe they like the subject, get bitten by the bug, and end up being good programmers. It doesn’t look like there will be a lack of work on that for a long time.
Benefits of learning to code for kids
Programming is not just sitting in front of a computer and writing code without stopping. Programming is an activity that has many benefits directly applicable to children, Aark Learnings discussed more things below:
- Encourages creativity and logical thinking. Programming consists of solving a problem using code, written in a certain language. For that, the programmer has to think about different solutions to reach that goal, and if he has several solutions, think about which one can be faster or safer. Know how to manage the tools and resources you have to get a solution.
- Promotes the ability to order ideas, and to be more structured and organized. Programming code is often made up of several smaller pieces of code, or functions so that each function solves a small task.
- Encourage social relationships with other children, if for example it is done in a classroom and work groups are created, where each child contributes ideas or proposals.
- It encourages the desire to improve, since once a game has been finished, for example, we can always ask ourselves: What if I make more difficult levels? What if I add a bookmark? What if I add other abilities to the character? It fosters that enthusiasm to improve what we have already been able to do. Or try to repeat the code so that it is faster or use fewer methods (more optimized).
- Lastly, it can (and SHOULD) be fun, at these levels. What is the best way for a child to learn? Exactly: playing. A child’s first “program” may consist of small games where you have to solve a puzzle or where you have to make a character achieve an objective.
Scratch: the programming language to get started
We said that there are numerous programming languages, in the same way, that there are many languages in the world. But, what is the ideal programming language to learn? The answer is scratch.
Scratch is a visual language developed by MIT. Highlight the word “ visual ”, because it is what makes it easy to use. Scratch is widely used by teachers or parents to teach children, as it allows you to easily create animations, games, etc. It is a language that does not require mastering the writing of code, but rather it is more visual, through the use of blocks that you can drag and drop to see what happens when you run the program.
Below we talk about programming books and visual guides to learn Scratch from scratch, aimed at children… keep reading!
Programming In Minecraft
Another example of a popular educational game for teaching children programming is Minecraft. Minecraft is a construction game in which players can create and explore virtual worlds. The game also has a game mode called “Adventure Mode”, which allows players to create their own interactive stories and adventures. To do this, players must learn to program using the “Blockly” programming language, which is similar to Scratch.
Minecraft course is a great way for kids to learn the basics of programming while having fun creating their own stories and adventures. The course is designed for children between the ages of 8 and 12 and covers topics such as programming logic, control structures, variables, and events.
In addition to the Minecraft course, there are a wide variety of programming and technology courses for kids, ranging from basic programming to advanced learning.
Code Combat: Free Online Video Game To Learn
The online video game Code Combat deserves special mention. It is a great game with a dungeon aesthetic on several levels. As soon as you enter their website, codecombat.com, you will see that you can choose between the “Classroom Edition” option and choose between a teacher or student profile (ideal for classrooms); or directly start playing without further ado (“Play now”).
It is completely free (with the option to pay to get other characters and objects… but free, it can be played completely) and in many other languages.
You will find a map full of blocked levels since each level has more difficulty. So you will start with the first level, with the first programming concepts (variables, methods…), and in more advanced levels more complicated topics such as objects will be touched.
And what is the game about? First of all, it already warns you that you can start playing without knowing ANYTHING about programming. In each level, you have on the left the dungeon to overcome, and on the right an area to write and execute the code. Don’t worry, they give you everything already written to begin with, you just have to choose the right move and execute.
Your character will do what you indicate in the code area. If you try it first as parents, you will see that everything is perfectly explained with a tutorial from scratch… It’s very simple. At least, at the beginning, and little by little the difficulty will increase.
It has all the elements of a classic RPG: getting weapons and items, leveling up, etc.
A clear example is that gamification is the perfect option to learn: play and learn, learn and play, all at the same time.
Without a doubt, when your children are old enough, you can teach them all this “universe” of programming for children. Without forcing it, let them know it, let them play. If they don’t like it, leave something else. But if they like it, it is an option to start from their early years with a possible professional career that will continue to be “the future” for a while.