Let’s talk about coding; or more specifically, kids computer coding. What is coding and why is it important for kids to learn?
A code is a set of specific instructions that a computer can understand. Computer codes are an integral part of 21st century life. Our bank cards, phones, cars, and computers all rely on codes to function. As such, understanding code is an increasingly valuable career-skill.
Research suggests that computer automation will affect half of the Canadian workforce in the next 10 years. In other words, computers will perform some jobs for which we currently employ humans. An increasing sector of the Canadian labour force now works with computer software, and tech has become the new vanguard for entrepreneurship. To prepare today's kids for tomorrow's economy, we need to familiarize them with coding.
In addition to valuable career-prep, coding can help kids understand the world today. Tech columnist Erik Missio argues that children as young as four should start learning the foundations of computer commands: “Today, computing is involved in almost all aspects of our lives…If grade-schoolers are taught biology and mathematics in order to understand the world around them, then knowing the basics of how computers communicate—and how to engage with them—should be a given.”
Missio notes that coding helps children develop problem-solving skills: “Computational thinking allows preschoolers to grasp concepts like algorithms, recursion and heuristics—even if the don’t understand the terms, they’ll learn the basic concepts.”
So how can you get your kids computer coding?
Scratch a fun introduction to coding that your kids can try from home. Designed for ages 8-16, Scratch allows kids to program their own games, interactive stories, and animations. Kids can apply the skills they learn from Scratch to other programming languages like Java and Python. We love this program because it’s intuitive and it encourages kids be creative!
For coding in a more structured setting, reach out to your child’s school to see if they offer any programming classes or clubs. The English Montreal School Board is planning to incorporate some basic coding for elementary students. Many schools offer extracurricular robotics clubs that include some computer programming.
For forward-thinking parents and educators, coding is more than an excuse for kids to play with computers; it’s an investment in their educational and professional futures. So let’s get started!