Kids Learning Programming: What's the Right Age?

What’s the right age to learn how to program?

The short answer: any age! 

From first graders learning the fundamentals of how to think about coding to 80-year-olds looking to pick up a new skill, the perfect age to start learning programming is really any age. 

Does that mean your five-year-old will be able to program her computer to launch rockets and satellites? Probably not… (yet.) Certain coding lessons will be easier to internalize based on your child’s age. But even a preschool-aged kid can start wrapping their head around basic coding concepts. 

Preschoolers: Ages 3-5

Programming for preschoolers? You bet. Your preschooler’s brain is an information sponge, soaking up important lessons like sharing, listening to instruction, counting, and identifying colors. At this stage, your young child can start learning the lessons essential to coding—without a computer. 

Here are just a few ways your child can practice their coding skills offline:

  • Learning resilience through mazes – One of the cornerstones of coding is learning never to give up. Paper mazes force your child to try new paths to make it to their goal. If one path doesn’t pan out, they’ll have to start over and try again—much like trying different coding sequences to give a computer a command successfully.  
  • Logical reasoning and organization through storytime – Storytelling helps train your child’s brain to organize thoughts and events in a logical order. Logical thinking skills are vital to mastering programming. To practice, photocopy pictures from your child’s favorite storybook and lay them out randomly on the kitchen table or floor. Have your child tell the story (in the right order) by arranging the pictures. You’ll be amazed to see how quickly your child picks up the logical order and organization of their favorite fairy tales.
  • Problem-solving through puzzles – What do puzzles have to do with kids and coding? Puzzles teach kids how to tackle a big problem by breaking it down into little pieces. For example, some kids may finish a puzzle by starting with the corner pieces. Others may start by grouping similar pieces together. Just like there are many ways to approach puzzle-solving, there are various approaches to untangling a coding problem.

By working just a few fun games and activities into your kids coding class curriculum, you can prime your preschooler to pursue coding. 

Elementary School: Ages 5-11

When kids graduate from preschool to play with the (slightly) bigger kids in elementary school, they begin building the foundations for long-term intellectual and emotional skills. In other words, it’s a perfect time to start teaching kids programming fundamentals.


Kindergarteners are notorious for their excitement for new things (and their energy levels). If your kindergartener is a little intimidated by the computer, you can still play around with programming outside of the computer room.

  • Blind-folded obstacle course to teach communication – The art of computer programming is the art of telling computers what you want them to do. Your child will be essentially writing instructions for a computer to follow—and the clearer and more detailed, the better.

    What better way to practice specific communication than with a blindfolded obstacle course? 

Using couch cushions, blankets, and cardboard boxes, create a mini obstacle course in your living room. Take turns blindfolding your kids—and having them blindfold you—and directing them through the obstacle course. Encourage your child to be as specific as possible with commands like:

    • Two little steps to the left.
    • Baby crawl under the cardboard tunnel right in front of you. 
    • Hopscotch to the finish line.

Your child will practice using their words to convey specific directions, and your family will wind up having a blast.

  • Cooking up some coding skills – Bringing your child into the kitchen for a batch of cookies actually translates well into a beginner’s coding lesson. Following step-by-step instructions teaches younger kids how to turn directions into action and inspires confidence, independence, and creativity in children—a perfect recipe for the foundations of coding.  

First Grade

At around six or seven, kids learn to express themselves better through words, understand cause-and-effect relationships, and begin to learn how to write. Because of those burgeoning skills, some experts believe that this age is actually the best time to start teaching programming to kids. 

Here are a few coding languages that are ideal for this age group:

  • HTML – HTML stands for Hypertext Markup Language and it can add text, images, tables, and other design elements to a webpage by using simple syntax—or language. HTML is ideal for all ages because it’s such an intuitive language to start with.
  • CSS – If you had a NeoPet or a MySpace page, you’re likely already familiar with CSS. While HTML controls what’s on the webpage, CSS can control how it looks—that includes fonts, colors, and layout designs. It works seamlessly with HTML to create gorgeous and functional websites or digital programs.
  • Scratch – A visual programming language, Scratch allows kids to drag and drop code blocks to animate characters, invent games, and even build apps. It’s simple, intuitive, and interactive. It’s a fantastic stepping stone for kids who may be a little shy about jumping into the world of programming. 
  • Python – Python is considered one of the simplest coding languages because it relies on simple syntax. Python uses easy-to-read code that really looks a lot like regular old English. Writing out programming commands in Python feels more natural to young coders. 
  • Processing – A key tool in any coder’s utility belt, Processing helps programmers create stunning visual media projects. This gateway language was designed to be simple enough to understand while helping prepare coders for more complex projects.  

Second and Third Grade

Seven to nine-year-olds have grown up a lot since their early days in elementary school. They’re reading chapter books, writing different kinds of sentences, mastering multiplication, and researching their own projects. Along with the languages listed for first graders, second and third graders are ready to take on more complex coding languages like JavaScript.

  • JavaScript – Considered a pillar language to programming, JavaScript is used to make interactive web applications. What does that mean? JavaScript helps everything from web pages to applications work on the user-facing end. It can animate images and trigger responsive events on web pages. With it, students can create websites or even two-dimensional games.

  • Fourth and Fifth Grade

    Academics get turned up a notch when students reach the fourth and fifth grades—math is becoming more difficult, and children have more autonomy over their assignments.

    It also means they’re ready for more complex coding languages like:

  • Lua – Made in Brazil, Lua—or “moon” in Portuguese—boasts a set of general features that can be applied to multiple coding projects. It’s a simple enough language to pick up for older kids while still being an enjoyable challenge for tweens. It’s most popularly used in game engines for games like World of Warcraft and Angry Birds but also functions in applications like Adobe Photoshop.  

  • Middle School: Ages 11-14

    Cubbies turn into lockers, playgrounds turn into sports fields, and elementary school students turn into middle school students. As their studies become more complex—and their work becomes much more independent—students are ready to tackle more intricate programming languages. 

    • Java – Not to be confused with JavaScript, Java is ideal for students with a little more cognitive ability like middle schoolers. Java focuses on the back-end of web environments and is one of the most commonly used programming languages. Although it might be a little more difficult than coding languages listed for elementary school kids, Java can help middle schoolers build their own game engines, mobile apps, graphics programs, and more.

    High School: Ages 14-18

    In high school, students take meaningful strides towards adulthood in their intellectual and emotional maturity. They’re able to work together on bigger coding projects that require deeper understanding and independent research, such as: 

  • C++ – Nope, that’s not an aggressively mediocre letter grade for a computer science final. It’s a math-centered programming language that can be intimidating at first, but once mastered, students can develop animations, desktop-based applications, web browsers, database software, and gaming engines.
  • C# – One of the most in-demand languages for computer programming jobs, C# is the bedrock of many Microsoft Windows programs. It’s also the go-to language for learning how to make 3D games. If you’ve already mastered Java, good news—some consider C# the Microsoft clone of Java.

  • School of Life: Ages 18+

    When it comes to deciding which coding language or practice to start with as an adult learner, the answer is simple: All of the above.

    There’s no age limit to which coding language to start with. You can dip your toes into the world of computer coding with Scratch or try your hand at visual arts through HTML and CSS. Play around and discover what works best for you.

    Disney Codeillusion: Coding Magic for All Ages

    If you’re looking to introduce your third-grader to coding, or you’re interested in trying out the fundamentals of coding for yourself, look no further than Disney Codeillusion.

    The imaginative world of Disney comes together with more than a decade of coding education expertise to turn programming into an immersive adventure. Students can enjoy the interactive elements of an RPG-style learning experience with the stunning visuals and familiar characters of Disney. Your child (or you) will practice:

    • Game development
    • Media art
    • Web design

    This unique coding education will go over some of the most essential programming languages, including:

    • HTML
    • CSS
    • Processing
    • JavaScript

    And with 125 self-guided and comprehensive coding lessons, you can practice at your own pace with a little help from Disney.

    Coding—just like Disney magic—is for everyone. Dive in today with a free trial of Disney Codeillusion.


    Microsoft Blog. Why Not C#

    ID Tech. 7 Best Programming Languages for Kids & Teens.