We all know how bright and curious children can be, and every parent can probably attest that kids often need a challenge to focus all of that creative energy. While there are a thousand different ways to keep kids busy, some of those ways have the added bonus of fostering new and useful real-world skills.
In this case, we’re talking about learning coding.
If you’re looking for a way to entertain your child while helping them develop their mind, an introduction to coding could be the perfect place to start. Teaching kids to code might sound like a daunting task, but we’re here to show you some of the fun and easy ways to help them get excited about the world of ones and zeros.
What Exactly is Coding?
Before we travel down the many avenues that could lead you and your child to the magic of coding, let’s go over the basics.
What do we mean when we talk about coding?
Well, just about every piece of technology that you use relies on code to work. The ATM you use to withdraw cash, the tablet full of games your child loves, and even your car uses coding! Coding is the language of technology; it’s how devices receive their operating instructions. Coding, also called programming, is the act of writing this language in order to have computers follow certain commands.
Think of it like writing out your child’s nighttime routine for a new babysitter. If those instructions are in a language the sitter doesn’t know, she’ll have a hard time getting your child to bed—and you may come home to a wide-awake little munchkin!
As the world moves towards a future of automation in technology, coding is an invaluable skill to develop. But more importantly, it’s a challenging puzzle that can ignite your child’s imagination and pave the way for their future.
If you think your child might enjoy learning about coding, here are some ways to pique their interest.
Just like learning a new language, starting at a young age can be key to inspiring your kid’s curiosity about the wonders of computer code. This can take shape in a number of ways, including:
Exploring technology together and asking questions like, “What do you think will happen if I press this button?”
Reading books about technology and no, we’re not talking computer manuals. Just head to your local bookshop—there are more books for children about coding and technology than ever!
- Play video games together and point out how amazing it is that someone created such a fun experience with the powers of coding.
Keeping things light is usually the way to go. You don’t need to get too in-depth and technical with it at this point—the goal is to plant the seed in their mind and encourage it to grow as they get older. Given that young kids love to ask questions about the world around them, this should be easy enough to introduce fun coding activities for kids.
With all this in mind, it’s also important not to force anything. The aim is to help kids on the path toward coding because they want to do it, not because their parents want them to.
If they need to take a break or want to focus their energy elsewhere, make sure they do! Otherwise, they may feel too much pressure to work on coding, and they won’t enjoy it as much in the future.
Show Them That Coding is Everywhere
One of the easiest ways to introduce your kid to coding is to demonstrate how much of an impact it has on everyday life. They probably interact with computer code on a daily basis without even realizing it, so establishing a link between the technology they enjoy and the process that makes it work can be an ideal way to start their journey into a programming language.
These are just some of the products your child might use that run on code:
- Tablets and smartphones
- Smart speakers
- Any website
- Video game consoles
Depending on the age of your child and their interests, this list could include lots of everyday items. Each time they interact with one of these devices, try asking your child questions like, “How do you think this works?” or “Do you ever wonder what happens inside of this machine?” These types of questions can inspire a thirst for knowledge that might develop into a passion for computers and technology.
It’s important to emphasize what’s possible when it comes to computer programming: anything!
Once you get a grasp on the fundamentals of coding, the sky is truly the limit. That’s why it’s vital to show kids that coding is not only a useful skill but an art form in itself—no crayons required.
For every smart refrigerator and information kiosk at the mall that runs on code, there are also computer games and interactive apps that might be more fun for kids. Make sure you show them that, with enough practice, they too could be creating the games they love to play.
Their favorite video game character was thought up by someone and made a reality thanks to code. That awe-inspiring fireworks show from last summer was all programmed ahead of time using computer code. The list goes on!
The main takeaway here is that learning about coding doesn’t have to be about setting your young child up for career success right away—in fact, that might make them hesitant to start.
Instead, when they’re taking their first steps into computer programming, try to encourage them to create for the sake of creating. You’ll be amazed at what they can come up with once they get going.
Explain the Benefits of Learning to Code
Some kids need to understand how they’ll benefit from learning new skills before they get started on the process. Luckily, there are many answers to the question, “Why should I learn how to code?” While the most obvious one might be something about career prospects, there are so many other upsides to practicing a coding activity.
Some of these include:
- Coding can help improve problem-solving skills.
- Learning to program helps hone logic and reasoning abilities, which can help you work smarter in school.
- It’s just plain fun!
With so many different reasons to explore coding, there’s bound to be something that stands out for every child. Of course, there are so many more benefits to learning programming languages, and you’ll no doubt be able to find something that resonates with your kid.
Turn Coding Into Family Fun
Once you and your child discover all the benefits and possibilities of coding, it's time to dig in—and what better way than as a family?
No matter what coding language or resource you end up choosing to explore, learning together makes the process that much more enjoyable. Here are some reasons to join your child in their pursuit of computer programming skills:
Spending time with family – It’s easy to get lost in the hustle and bustle of busy days. You may find yourself wishing for a little extra time with the family. Thankfully, learning about coding is an activity suited for all ages, meaning that the whole household can get involved. It’s a fun way to merge educational time with family bonding.
The benefits of group learning – Many studies have shown that learning in group settings improves decision-making. By practicing coding alongside your kids, you create a group environment that encourages collaboration and allows for the exchange of ideas. Working together turns the activity from strictly code-related to an all-around lesson in communication and cooperation.
- You might learn a thing or two yourself – Even if your exploration into the world of coding is mostly for your kids, you’d be surprised how much information you might pick up for yourself. Computer coding is all around us, and having even a basic understanding of programming languages is never a bad thing in a technology-driven society. And who knows? Maybe it won’t just be the little ones that get a headstart on some new career skills!
Try an Interactive Coding Experience
The best way to get kids excited about coding is to make it fun. In the beginning, coding can seem a little complex and unapproachable, so keeping it entertaining is a must for kids that are just starting to explore the wonders of coding.
An interactive experience that covers all the major facets of coding is a surefire way to introduce programming skills to your children while maintaining their interest throughout.
There are lots of online resources to help you dip your toes into the world of coding, but only one that lets you team up with some of your child’s favorite Disney characters: Disney Codeillusion.
With 125 lessons covering everything from Web Design, Game Development, and Media Art, Disney Codeillusion is a program built to make basic coding for kids fun and accessible for parents and kids alike. The following four core programming languages are covered throughout the curriculum:
The course provides a “no-stuck” approach to coding education, which means there will always be extra help if your kids need it.
If you’re ready to begin your coding discovery, check out the free trial from Disney Codeillusion.
- Make Use Of. What Is Coding and How Does It Work? www.makeuseof.com/tag/what-is-coding/
- Science Daily. Group learning makes children better decision-makers, study finds. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/01/160119153500.htm
- Parents. 5 Books to Teach Children About Coding. https://www.parent.com/5-books-to-teach-curious-kids-about-coding/