Should your kids learn how to code and if the answer is positive, what age is best for getting started with such activities? Programming skills can be acquired early on in life. According to most experts, the best time to start with such educational activities is in elementary school. While some educators disagree, the truth of the matter is that the approach has to be personalized.
Some children will demonstrate a talent at an early age. If such a talent exists, it has to be nurtured. The sooner the learning begins, the better. The educational materials and the methodology selected will also play an important role in the acquisition of knowledge and its practical application in the future.
Keeping things simple, fun and visual is one of the keys to introducing programming as a topic at an early age. Obviously, it will be difficult to teach a five-year-old how to work with C++. Some core coding concepts, however, are relatively easy to demonstrate to a young and interested audience.
Today’s realities have to be taken in consideration when educational initiatives are being developed. Children today spend more time in front of the computer than any previous generation. Giving them a chance to be in control can result in a healthy relationship with technology rather than an obsessive reliance on the PC.
This is one of the reasons why MIT professors have launched an interesting initiative, a programming kindergarten group. According to the MIT experts, toddlers can be acquainted with some basic coding concepts and they will benefit from the experience. Mitch Resnick, director of the MIT kindergarten group, said that programming is becoming a “new form of literacy” in today’s world. The sooner kids get started with it, the better.
MIT professionals aren’t alone
Three female entrepreneurs have launched an interactive ebook and a website called My First Website. The aim of the initiative is, once again, to give toddlers a glimpse into the world of programming. My First Website can be accessed both on computers and on mobile devices. It teaches toddlers the basics of HTML. The website is suitable for kids as young as three and it’s great for parents who want to teach their children programming but lack the required knowledge.
Even policymakers in the US have come to an agreement that today’s children need to learn how to code. While specific guidelines pertaining to the right age for the start of such education haven’t been developed yet, it’s clear that a very young person can understand core concepts that are present simply and in a visual/interactive manner.
Programming Being Compared to Second Language Learning
Some educators believe that learning to code is very similar to becoming fluent in a second language. The best age for learning a second language is the three to seven range. The brain is still developing at this age and it has a massive learning capacity. A process that starts later on will be slower and much less efficient.
While programming courses in middle and high school could prepare kids and teens for a successful career in the field, identifying top talent early on (even teaching basic programming skills to all kids) can deliver much better results. This is especially true when it comes to immersing children in coding before social and peer pressures take control.
Scientific disciplines have long been associated with “nerdiness” and “being a dork.” Getting a child to develop skills before they hit puberty can make programming a course for the future without the eventual bullying or peer pressure that a child will be exposed to later on in life.
Many good, well-known programmers have made their first steps in the field at the ages of four or five. Bill Gates was allowed to skip math classes, a time that he used to develop his very first program. It was a game that allowed users to play tic-tac-toe against a computer. Mark Zuckerberg also had a relatively early start. Twitter’s founder and CEO Jack Dorsey got his first Apple Macintosh at the age of eight and this is also when he began programming.
There’s no need to go into complex concepts at an early age. When young children are given the basics of logical thought and computation, they can master programming in high school and college a whole lot easier.
The Final Verdict: Should Kids Learn Programming at an Early Age?
Should kids learn programming at an early age? It really depends but exposing a child to some coding knowledge is the only way to find out whether the discipline is one of interest.
In 2014, Britain became the first G7 country to add computer science to the school curriculum and make it mandatory for children aged five to 16. Based on this curriculum, children in the five to seven age range are expected to learn how to write a simple program and how to debug one. Depending on their interest and development level, some children could move on to much more advanced programming concepts by the age of 11.
There’s a reason why such initiatives are starting to take hold in more and more countries
Over the course of two years, over 140 million individuals from all parts of the world downloaded a coding tutorial for beginners from Hour of Code. Programming xilinx news provides wonderful career-establishment opportunities. Learning to code as an adult, however, is far from easy. Unfortunately, the statistics don’t provide information about the number of people who have given up on the endeavor.
Learning to program will essentially prepare children for the realities of the world that we live in. The foundations can be obtained at the age of four or five, before children have even learned how to read and write.
Learning to code creates a logical mindset and it also equips children with problem-solving skills. Making the experience a fun on is the key to getting children involved at an early age. Computer games, coding tutorials and even animated films are already available for the purpose. There are even coding camps and courses for youngsters that provide socialization opportunities and wonderful bonding experiences for kids that have similar interests.