Given how the world is becoming more technologically advanced, teaching your child to code is a vital and necessary element of their education. Here we show you how to teach your child to code while they’re in lockdown. The advice here is just as valid for improving your children’s coding knowledge, even if “stay in place” orders have been lifted where you are.
Why It’s Important for Your Child to Code
Computers have a somewhat negative reputation among older generations. There are plenty of reasons for this, as, arguably, the public perception of computers has historically been low.
Many of those not born into “Generation Z” have had to learn that computers teach valuable skills for life and work. In contrast, the image of computers has been that they simply help children kill time after school.
However, this is discounting the work poured into developing more “serious” software – and the rise and domination of Internet tech. Now, schools teach so-called Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) subjects as an ongoing concern.
What’s more, workplaces that want tech-savvy employees are increasing. Of course, many businesses are fully online, especially during the current global COVID-19 pandemic.
As such, starting your own children on STEM topics such as coding is a foundation that will give them a head start over their peers.
How to Help Your Child Learn Coding Skills (Rather than Simply Playing Games)
Of course, we don’t recommend sitting a child in front of the Nintendo Switch and leaving them be (although more on this later). In order to help them, you’ll need to employ “focused learning” techniques. Here are the fundamentals:
- Schedule a block of time every day to work on some coding skills or projects.
- Make sure that both you and your child keep to the schedule without fail.
- Have an itinerary or roadmap for what you want to achieve on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis.
Next, look to split the time you spend coding into dedicated blocks relating to giving feedback, deliberate practice, and teaching learned skills to others. These are important aspects of focused learning, and each has proven benefits toward information retention – especially teaching others.
In a practical sense, you’ll want to make sure your child has a trustworthy and knowledgeable source of feedback for their work. Much of your time will go toward coding (as it should be).
To teach the skills to others, there’s no better way than creating a blog. Having a parent-child online blog to distil learned topics into straight-forward language, has a bigger effect on retention in long-term memory. What’s more, it’s a great bonding tool for both of you, especially when you both bring different skills to the table.
How to Teach Your Children to Code During Lockdown
Of course, if teaching your children to code feels like school, it won’t necessarily be engaging. Fortunately, there are plenty of resources available to learn the fundamentals of coding, and more.
In fact, there are lots of great platforms that feel like computer games but are actually solid coding trainers. For young children (think three- and four-years old), Thinkrolls Play & Code is one of the best games for learning the thought patterns of code rather than writing it:
Swift Playgrounds is Apple’s way of teaching the Swift programming language. It’s great for older children who already use smart devices.
Swift is becoming popular with iOS and macOS developers, so grasping this will be important in the future.
To tie everything together, consider a platform such as Scratch.
This is a modular, practically code-free way of creating computer games, and the results can be surprisingly complex. It’s a great platform for applying learned skills to a real-world project that gives instant feedback.
Finally, if your child is practically glued to the Switch, consider Nintendo Labo.
This is a Virtual Reality (VR) platform that enables children to create and control various builds such as a robot or car direct from the Switch console.
In a nutshell, coding is not the domain of introverted teens in their parent’s basement; it’s the future of the workplace and will become an essential skill for the next generation.
We has previously written about great resources for teaching your children to code, and it’s a solid companion to this article. Have you previously tried to teach your children to code? Share your experiences in the comments section below!
Image credit: NadineDoerle
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