What Is Coding and How to Teach It to Your Kids? 7 Tips for Parents
The other day, one parent asked me she’s trying to teach Scratch Jr to her kid, but she doesn’t know how to do it well.
In today’s post, for parents who like to teach how to code to their kids but not knowing where to start, I will explain what coding is and how to teach kids to code.
What is coding, and how does it work?
In our age, many companies are producing values and profits from the software. For example, Google is making most of its revenues from its search engine software. Amazon is making most of its earnings from Amazon.com, targeting consumers and AWS targeting business. Restaurants seem very far from software, but many of their operations rely on software like managing bookings, managing revenues, managing employees, etc.
When people use those services, many don’t recognize what is going on behind the scene. However, in reality, even a simple user registration process, many things are happening behind the scene. For example, they send an email when you register a service. Also, they may transmit some data to another service for data analysis.
All the software works with code made by one of many programming languages like Ruby, Python, etc.
Every software is consists of many parts of small programs, and each of those programs has different purposes. When creating software, it is essential to clarify what kind of small programs are needed and how to combine them.
Software engineers are not just writing code. They dismantle the big picture into small blocks, implement those small blocks, and reconstruct them so that things will work smoothly.
Coding is a process of several cognitive tasks
In conclusion, coding is a process presented in the list below.
- Make a big picture; it means the product they will make.
- Dismantle the big picture into smaller blocks.
- Dismantle the Smaller blocks into much smaller chunks of programs.
- Implement each of the blocks.
- Put them together.
In the process of dismantling a big picture or blocks into a smaller chunk of programs, software engineers need to think both logically and creatively. Engineers who can elegantly solve this are more valuable. For example, Netflix is paying half a million dollars on average to its software engineers to hire the best engineers who can solve the problems more elegantly. The CEO says those kinds of engineers values easily more than 10 times compared with mediocre ones.
When you teach coding to your kids. the critical things are not making them remember the small rules of the programming language. The important thing is to teach how to think like a good engineer and solve problems with creative and elegant ways.
How to teach coding to kids?
Here are some pieces of advice on teaching kids how to code.
Which programming language to teach?
We recommend you to select one of Scratch or Code.org. Both of them are free and popular in the world. Both of them are block-based coding language. It means you can write programs by visually combining blocks of codes. It is much easier to start for kids compared with text-based coding languages.
Code.org and Scratch both have similar looks if your kid would be familiar with one of them. It is not so difficult to switch to another one.
1. It is better if parents learn the basics of coding
It must be hard for parents to learn new things while doing their jobs and house chores. However, I still recommend you learn the basics to figure out what your kids are working on well.
If you select Scratch as a first language to teach, you can check some third party courses because Scratch does not offer a course on their website.
For example, you can buy some courses on Udemy for less than $20.
Here’s one of them.
Or you can learn on edX for free. You can complete the course within 30-40 hours to complete. However, as a parent, you don’t need to master all, and it would take shorter.
If you select Code.org and Blockly, you can learn on their website. Here’s the page for teachers.
2. Involve friends of your kids to learn to code together
Learning anything would be more fun with friends. You can involve other parents who are also interested in teaching kids to code. Then, the kids can work on the projects and activities together or compete together. It makes your kid more motivated and learns to work together with others.
3. Take some chunk of time to support your kids at first.
Learn the basics is the hardest part of a kid to start a learning program because they need to learn many new concepts and do little to create what they imagine. So, parents need to take some chunk of time to support them at first.
4. Help kids to figure out the big picture
A Kid is always a genius in creativity. Adults are better at pulling things together, which most kids still need to train.
You can ask your kids questions and use drawings and texts to sort out the imaginations on a paper. If you have a whiteboard that kids can always see, it would be more effective.
5. Support your kids to push themselves a little bit further
As kids do the coding for some time, they would complete creating a small app. However, many kids tend to stop there. You can give them some more ideas, which are a little bit difficult to implement. Continuing this process, the kid will learn more about problem-solving and utilizing their skills to solve things.
6. Help them occasionally, giving small hints.
Creating an app is not easy. Chances are your kid will ask your help often. However, every coding learners should learn to solve problems by themselves, or at least try it. You can help them, but not always. It is best to give your kids small hints instead.
7. Share the process and the outcome on SNS.
Praises from parents already make kids happy when they accomplish something. But you can also post the outcomes on SNSs and show the people’s reaction to your kids. Keep your kids motivated and go further spontaneously.
Today, I explained what coding is and how to teach kids to code. Here are some points.
- Coding is not a subject of memorization. It is about learning the thought process.
- The hardest part of learning to code comes first. Suppor of parents is a must in that phase.
- It is better for parents to know the basic concepts of coding.
- Feedback roops from parents and SNSs would help your kids to learn more spontaneously.
At CodeGrit Jr, we offer 1:1 live coding classes with professional instructors for kids starting $100 per month for 4 50-minute sessions. Our curriculum is based on the Blockly coding language and Code.org coding environment. If you are interested, you can request a free trial session.