Have your kids expressed an interest in learning to code? Coding may sound boring, and you may not understand it, but for many kids, it can be fun, challenging, engaging and could also open a door to a brighter future! Wondering where to get started? Whizzkids tell you when, how and most importantly, why to get started – Coding for Kids Decoded!
How many times have you heard that children should be learning how to code but you really just don’t get it? They’re just kids, right? Every time you open a paper, in Ireland anyhow, they are talking about the lack of IT graduates, and promising a golden future for anyone with these most vital of skills.
Or maybe you have a son or daughter at home that is really interested in learning about IT and you can’t help, you don’t even understand what they are talking about? If you’re not too sure what all the hype is about or if you just want to be able to point your child in the right direction, read on.
Why They Should Get Started?
Of course there will still be firemen, nurses and teachers in the future, but it is true that having IT skills will open up new opportunities for your children. Technology is becoming important in all manner of careers, so there will be more, and better jobs, for those that have these skills.
IT skills are also global skills, travelling easily from country to country, and leading to more opportunities for those lucky enough to have them.
Dispel the Myths about Kids & Technology
Before continuing. it’s worth sorting out a few myths about kids and technology!
1. Being able to discover something in seconds on your phone or being great at playing games are not IT skills. That’s simply using technology. Having IT skills, means being able to create content not just use it. In other words, learning how to create your own website, games, animations, 3D digital models, apps and so on.
2. Being good with technology doesn’t mean they will not have any friends! Programming is often more about collaboration, problem-solving and teamwork than you might realise.
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When Should They Start?
In our experience, 8 years of age is perfect, but if your child is older than that, don’t worry, kids pick things up quickly, so whether they are 8, 12 or 15, they will be able to make a start.
And no, they don’t need to be a genius, in fact, they don’t need any previous experience at all, just make sure that you sign them up with a camp/classes with a solid reputation and qualified teachers.
Best Online Resources
If you are looking for online resources, these are the best sites and apps(in our opinion), and yes, they are all free!
1. Scratch Programming
We believe that every child should learn Scratch, it’s as simple as that.
Scratch is a great introduction to programming concepts, and it’s drag & drop editor allows for quick results, without having to learn a whole new language. Kids love the fast results – they can use it to build their own games, screensavers & animations. There is a huge online library of projects and a very active forum for help from other creators.
Suitable for children from 7/8 years up.
Once you have mastered Scratch and want to get into programming languages, Codecademy should be on your list.
3. Khan Academy
Lessons are more advanced than Codecademy, so probably best suited for older students, where there are also lessons in Maths, science, economics, arts & humanities.
4. W3 Schools
W3 Schools is an information website for Web Developers.
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5. Lightbot App
There are options suitable for ages 4-8 years and 9+ years. Lightbot is also a great, east way to keep your kids entertained while you do the groceries/drive the car/wait in a queue, but don’t tell them we said that!
6. CargoBot App
It’s a simple idea. Players need to program a robotic arm to move crates to a designated spot. Sounds easy, but it’s never as easy as it sounds!
The beauty is that the game itself was developed using Codea, a programming language specifically designed for the iPad, so kids can see an example of what is possible — and what they themselves can create — using programming logic.
Available Free on iTunes
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Tech Camp & In-School Programmes
While all of these website & apps are a great way to learn about coding, there is a lot to be said for a Tech Camp, Afterschool Club or In-School Programme, where trained and qualified teachers will walk them through lessons step by step.
Experienced instructors will handle all the “But why?” and “How do I?” questions. There is also the social aspect to consider as at a summer camp or computer classes, they will make friends with kids who have similar interests.
Whizzkids have been Ireland’s No.1 Tech Camp since 2003 and they have a range of Tech Camps in Universities and Colleges throughout the country.
There are also a range of In-School Programmes where they come to your school (both Primary schools and Secondary Schools) to teach courses in everything from Scratch Programming, Coding and Web Design to Animation, 3D Digital Design and App Development.
There is a course for everyone from the ages of 8 up to 18.
Over to you! Do your kids like to code? Let us know how they like to learn – favourite websites/apps to use, or do they attend classes?