Languages have been a part of core curriculum for just about as long as schools have been around. For most kids today, that involves learning basic French, Spanish, and maybe even German— each chosen because of its prevalence on the world stage. Now, however, there’s a new language taking over. You guessed it; it’s the language of computers. But is this language making its way into enough school curriculums? And if not, what can you do at home to ensure that your child is prepared to thrive in a computer-centric world.
Coding at the Elementary Level
At the elementary level, learning to code isn’t anywhere near as daunting as it sounds. In fact, it doesn’t even need to involve computers. A lot of early coding lessons are more about teaching patterns than anything else, and kids can learn these patterns by creating different event series that lead to the same result. Although such basic coding lessons are already a part of the curriculum in many private schools, they have not yet made their way into most public schools in the US.
Why an Early Start Matters
As with learning any language, the earlier kids start, the more likely they are to become fluent. Critics of this theory as it applies to code argue that computer science doesn’t belong in the same category. And many feel that introducing such complex lessons at the elementary level doesn’t give kids enough chance to “be kids”. According to Pre-K teacher and EdTech specialist Karen Nelson, however, the ultimate complexity of the topic is irrelevant at the childhood level:
“For the kids in my class, learning to code *is* play. They love it. They like the challenge of creating and then executing a plan. They like the sense of accomplishment they feel when they’ve guided a little computer creature through a maze or over an obstacle. They love solving these coding puzzles with their friends and then cheering for one another as they master increasingly difficult challenges.”
What Coding Means in the Real World
According to Cameron Wilson, COO and VP of Government Relations for Code.org., computer-oriented jobs are the number one source of all new wages in the US, and maintain four times the demand of any other occupation. By 2024, there will be a projected 4.4 million jobs in computer and IT occupations — a 12 percent growth rate from 2014, outpacing that of all other occupations. What this comes down to is simple: computers are an integral part of the future, and learning basics such as coding at an early age can only put kids ahead of the learning curve and on the right track for success in later life.
Teaching Coding at Home
If your child’s school is among the many that have yet to add coding to the curriculum, there are still plenty of ways you can teach basic coding lessons at home — even if you don’t know how to code yourself. Coding toys like the CogniToys STEMosaur help to teach coding fundamentals in a fun, hands-on way, and there are plenty of free printable coding games you can try with your kids. If you’d prefer to give your child the opportunity to learn in a more scholastic environment, try enrolling them in a coding summer camp or club.
Whether your kids are future IT whizzes or musicians, an early start in speaking the “language” of computers will prepare them to keep pace in our changing world — a world in which writing a new app will soon be as normal as jotting down a story in a composition book. Do you have coding insights you’d like to share? Simply leave your comment below, or get in touch with us at email@example.com.