Recent explosion in technology has marked our coming into the digital world. We spend around 10 hours a day online, at work and outside, interfacing through a software layer. Even our relations with one-another are increasingly dependent on networked applications. No wonder, then, how software works is an increasingly important skill in today’s world that is being shaped by technology.
In this world, wherein speed of change in computing is extraordinary, not knowing the language of computers for generation Z will be as challenging as being illiterate today is.
So, how to ensure the new generation keeps pace with the faster knowledge turnover in this highly-complex information age?
Learning to code is the key.
Benefits of Coding
Coding Develops Computational Thinking
No matter how overrated learning ‘to code’ is; learning ‘to think computationally’ is not.
Everyone around us has started talking about how important coding is in today’s world that the whole phenomenon seems too glorified. Thus, if you are a parent to a young child, you might be in a dilemma whether coding is, in real, an essentiality for your child or not.
Coding is just like learning an instrument and is a means to develop computational thinking. Many children learn instruments, not to become professional musicians but because it teaches auditory intelligence, hand-eye coordination, artistic appreciation, and team work. In the same way, children who learn coding do not always aim to become coders but because it develops computational thinking.
So, to put your dilemma at rest: Yes, you should make your child learn how to code, not to make him another Zuckerberg or Gates but to teach him how to think. Coding sharpens problem-solving and analytics skills. As it requires a lot of attention to detail, precision, and patience, learning how to code can make your child become a better-equipped individual. Not only this, coding also helps appreciate technology and complexity of our world, and thereby build confidence.
It is just a matter of time that our society and educational system start viewing computer science as an important component of academic curriculum, just like English, Math, or Science.
Coding Improves Job Prospects and I am not talking only about Engineering Jobs
According to IB Times, by 2020, there will be estimated 1.4 million jobs in computer sciences but only about 400,000 graduates qualified to do them. Furthermore, majority of jobs today involve one or other tech element. Even if many of us don’t program in our jobs at all, we now work with programmers, and it’s helpful for us to speak the tech lingo.
So, even if those who don’t want to have ‘software engineer’ as their job title, they too should still learn the coding basics for these help understanding the technological and digital aspects of the real world better. This is because regardless of what you specialize in or what sector you are in, there is a really high chance that technology will play a role.
We can pick myriad of examples wherein professionals around the world are using coding skills to become better equipped for their respective job roles. For example, psychologists learn coding to understand why people behave in a particular pattern or a programmed manner; professional musicians use sorting to find the charts needed for a performance. Thus, there is no escaping the fact that coding is going to be a single, powerful aspect shaping our jobs as well as lives, in the coming times.
Introducing Kids to Coding
Kids learn fast when they start early and when they do it effortlessly, in the most playful manner.
Coding was something that was associated with geeks and nerds, until now. This is because it was meant to be done in a painfully boring manner by writing long and tedious codes. But thankfully, there are various interesting programs online that can teach kids to code in the most playful manner. Read on and consider these options as, any day, it is clearly a more useful investment of time and money than spending it in mind-numbing video games.
Online Support for Children willing to Learn Coding
Here are a few online resources which provide fun introduction to programming for kids with simple tutorials and cool graphics:
- Code is perhaps one of the most intuitive and robust non-profit platforms to make children learn coding and is backed by many celebrities. Its tutorials, online courses, and hour of code can be a fruitful start for your kid.
Image source: Code
- MIT has a fun program called Scratch which helps kids create games, stories, and animations without learning programming text.
- Kodable is an iPad game that teaches basic coding skills and computational thinking to children aged 5 and above.
- If your child knows how to read, Tynker can teach him programming logic.
- LightBot teaches super-basic programming for ages 4+. It introduces children to concepts like loops and if-then statements by asking them to solve puzzles.
- With KhanAcademy, your child can learn how to program animations, drawings, and games.
- CodeAcademy presents an interactive and student-guided introduction to programming.
- ScratchJr enables young children to create games and stories by making characters move, jump, sing, and dance.
- CodeCombat lets children play as a wizard using code to cast a spell on heroes as well as enemies.
- Alice allows kids to create games and 3D movies.
Once your kid gets through the above introductory and fun programs, develops some sort of understanding of coding, and likes it, then you can introduce him to more advanced online courses for programming.
Our First Step towards Motivating Children to Code
We, at Net Solutions, strongly believe that every child must learn to code for the sake of learning problem-solving and computational-thinking skills. Thus, we thought of reaching out to children and make them aware how coding can impact their lives.
So, while we had a few inquisitive minds of a city school in our Chandigarh office for an industrial visit, we took an initiative to introduce them to the benefits of leaning coding. We acquainted the Generation Z with the power of coding. After all, it’s the need of the hour.
CEO, Sameer Jain, in his short interactive lecture explained what coding is and how it requires the highest levels of creativity and imagination. The goal of the lecture was not to encourage children to pick computer sciences and become software techies in future, but to let them know the uses of learning programming in real life and decide for themselves.
Lecture revolved around telling how coding can help us explain the world around us and how learning to code can improve computational thinking and can be fun, at the same time. The lecture ended with a video on ‘Why you should code‘, wherein known personalities, from Mark Zuckerberg to Ruchi Sanghvi, are shown to back the importance of coding.
Times couldn’t have been better for the young ones to give code-learning a shot. As a parent, have your kids dive into programming. Knowing a little bit of coding will help open up a world of beautiful efficiency before them. It will not only improve their computational thinking but will also provide them with a basis for making an informed decision on whether CS or IT is something they wish to pursue as a career.
CC Flickr ‘Children at School’ by Lucélia Ribeiro