If you’re trying to get your kids interested in coding, it can be a lot of work – and fun. It’s vital that they learn what coding is and how it works, but it’s also essential that they’re not just learning about coding; they should be doing it too! That’s why we’ve put together this guide on ways to help you make learning coding fun for kids.
Get kids involved in social coding
Social coding is an excellent way for kids to learn by watching other people’s code and then taking what they’ve learned and making their own.
It’s also an excellent way for kids to make friends with other coders and learn from them. Social coding can be done in two ways:
- Getting kids involved in open-source projects. Open source projects are public, collaborative efforts that anyone can contribute to or learn from. There are many different types of open source projects, including software (like WordPress), websites (like Wikipedia), and hardware (like Raspberry Pi).
- Getting kids involved in coding clubs. Coding clubs are smaller, more local groups where kids can meet other coders, learn from them and help each other out with projects.
Let them “play” with your devices
The best way to get your child interested in technology is to let them play with your devices. This can be as simple as letting them use their phone or tablet to play games or taking them on a trip to the Apple store so they can try out all of the latest products.
Don’t worry about overdoing it — you’re not going to end up with an eight-year-old who knows how many gigabytes are contained within each version of macOS and how much RAM each chip has (though, if you’re lucky, they might be able to tell you). But if you give kids enough exposure at an early age, they’ll know what kinds of devices exist out there, which will make it easier for them when they get older and want to start exploring more advanced topics related to just this one kind.
Play games where they can learn new coding skills
Learning coding can be fun and rewarding, but the process of learning to program is often tedious and challenging. Luckily, plenty of games teach kids how to code; these games make learning coding fun while also helping them develop valuable skills.
Games like Code Monkey Island and Hopscotch are excellent ways for children to learn new coding skills while having fun. In addition to introducing coding to your child, these games also provide an engaging way for them to practice those skills; regular practice will help strengthen their grasp on these concepts so that they’ll be able to apply them in other contexts as well (like using an app).
Of course, playing games isn’t the only way kids can improve their knowledge about coding — there are other activities they can do as well.
Coding is everywhere – make sure they know it
Coding is everywhere, and your kids should know it.
It’s crucial that your child understands the difference between coding and other activities like playing video games or creating art. This can be done by referring to coding as a “language” and showing them examples of coded words and phrases in everyday life. For example, when you’re driving in the car together, ask your child if they know what “turn left at mile marker 4” means on a GPS unit or why a sign with an arrow signifies which way to turn at an intersection (the arrow indicates which direction you need to go).
If you’re using a computer for work or pleasure, teach your children about keyboard shortcuts by showing them how pressing some keys together will do multiple actions simultaneously (such as Ctrl + C for “copy”). The same goes for websites – explain how clicking on particular buttons links users between different pages within one site while highlighting others’ importance (such as hitting Enter after filling out a form).
Find a balance between teaching and learning
Let the kids play too. Kids love to explore and experiment, so give them a chance to do this. If you want your children to develop a lasting interest in computer science, it’s crucial that they have fun as well as learn. Consider creating an environment where learning is fun and exploratory:
- Encourage your child when he or she makes mistakes by saying something like, “Good job! You tried that new thing! Let me show you another way we can do that together.”
- Help them with any challenges they encounter along the way (such as getting stuck on a level of Minecraft), but don’t let yourself get bogged down by trying to solve everything for them or rushing ahead too fast before they are ready for it (this will just make things even more frustrating).
Given the rising popularity of modern software development practices, like DevSecOps, it can be easy to forget that programming is an art as much as it is a science — and that means we must put in the time and effort required to learn how to do it well. By supporting your child’s curiosity, celebrating their successes, and helping them through the challenging parts, you will help them build a strong foundation for lifelong learning.
As we’ve seen, many ways to teach your kids about coding exist. It doesn’t have to be all work and no play; the best way to approach it may be to find a balance between teaching them new skills and letting them experiment with what they already know.
For example, you might start by introducing some simple coding concepts before letting them play with devices or games that teach those concepts in a fun way. That way, your child will feel like they got something out of their time spent learning—and when they do eventually start tackling more prominent projects on their own (or maybe even with another person!), they won’t feel overwhelmed by what seems like an overwhelming amount of information at first glance.