Five Sure-Fire Ways to Get Kids Interested in Coding
Does sitting in front of a computer punching symbols, numbers, and sentence fragments into a keyboard really sound like fun to a child? How could you possibly get a young, wiggly, energetic, small human being interested in something like coding? Surprisingly enough, coding and kids can go together like peanut butter and jelly when you make it fun for them.
Getting kids interested in coding will be as easy as 1,2,3 when you do these five things:
Frame Coding as a Creative Act.
Children are born to be creative. From block towers to finger painted works of art, they naturally enjoy building and creating things. Coding just gives kids another avenue for creation and self-expression. The really exciting part is that by learning to code, kids can actually create games and apps that are similar to the ones they are already playing and using every day. Minecraft and YouTube for example are among the most popular forms of entertainment for kids today. By showing kids that the code they are learning to write is the same kind of code that operates the games and entertainment they already know and love, you can empower them to believe that they too can create similar games and apps themselves. It’s just a matter of time, imagination, dedication, and mastering the skill.
Make Coding a Hands-on Activity.
Studies have shown that students learn best when they are engaged in hands-on activities or games. Scientists believe that when children learn by using all of their senses (touch, smell, feel, taste, sound), it helps their brain create pathways that make it easier and quicker to retain information. Just because coding is done on a computer doesn’t mean that learning to code can’t be taught in hands-on way. When students work together and build their own projects, they can see the project they are creating come to fruition step by step. In this way, students learn through building themselves rather than learning through theory. Games can also be used as a hands-on learning tool for kids.
Allow Children to Collaborate.
Coding doesn’t have to be a solo activity. On the contrary, collaboration is actually very important when it comes to coding, even in the professional realm. When you allow children to collaborate on projects, they enjoy working together and can help each other solve problems. Additionally, when students see what their peers are building, they can be inspired to build and create their own projects in a similar fashion. “If Grayson can do that, maybe I can too.” They can combine and share each other’s ideas to create better and better projects.
Use Kid-Friendly Tools and Coding Language.
Just because Python is the most popular coding language doesn’t mean it’s the best fit for young learners. While Python may be considered the top of the industry, it may be too complicated for kids which can cause them to lose interest. Keep things simple by using a more kid-friendly option like Scratch or Alice. When children succeed at something, they are encouraged to continue learning, so it is important to meet children at their level when it comes to coding so they feel empowered to continue growing this valuable skill.
Empower Children to Solve Everyday Problems with Coding.
Coding doesn’t have to be a nebulous tool that may be used someday way into the future when a child has grown into an adult and is embarking on his or her career. You can encourage children to use coding to solve problems they are already experiencing right now in their everyday lives. For example, one of our students came from a big family. She had four siblings, and her mother had to track all five of her kid’s schedules using a big paper calendar on the kitchen wall. This student wanted to make a better way for her mom to keep track of their whole family’s plans and schedules, so she created an app specifically for her family that would do that for them. What other problems can creative kids solve through coding? The possibilities are as wide as his or her great imagination.
Coding is cool! The key to getting kids interested in this incredibly useful skill is to present it in a way that makes sense to them, embrace creativity, allow kids to work together, and keep learning hands-on. While these are just five easy ways to get kids interested in coding, there are certainly more ways to make it exciting and enjoyable.
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