Why should kids learn to code? This is an increasingly important question for many parents and educators. The answer is not only related to future career opportunities — although this is a serious benefit. The process of learning how to code is valuable in and of itself. As Mitchel Resnick, professor at the MIT Media Lab writes, “They are not just learning to code, they are coding to learn.” Here are 5 valuable skills kids learn when they learn code.
When you learn a language, you use it to express yourself. The same is true with code. Coding empowers kids to not only consume digital media and technology, but have the power to create it. Instead of simply playing a video game or using an app, they can imagine what their own video game, website, or app might be — and they have the power to create it. When kids learn how to code, a world of creative opportunity opens up. The possibilities are as limitless as their imagination.
When kids code, they take complex problems and break them down into smaller parts. Kids learn what it’s like to approach a problem the way a software engineer does, with logical, computational thinking. As Dan Crow, CTO of SongKick explains, “Computational thinking teaches you how to tackle large problems by breaking them down into a sequence of smaller, more manageable problems.” This logical thinking is a powerful tool in school, work, and life.
Learning to code, like any new discipline, is a challenge. Tackling complex problems — and making mistakes along the way — can be very frustrating. Coding teaches the valuable skill of persistence in the face of challenges. Learning how to problem solve and look for solutions through research and collaboration builds this highly desirable skill.
Anyone can learn how to code — kids can learn alongside others of every size, shape, race, gender, or background. Kids meet and learn how to collaborate with all types of peers, all joined by a common interest in technology.
Classrooms and other in-person environments, like iD Tech camps, bring kids together for face-to-face collaboration. But learning online also provides ample opportunity for collaboration. Kids learning online can ask each other questions, and work to solve problems and create things together. And many games, like Minecraft, involve coding, collaboration, and participation with peers all over the world.
Communication is an absolutely essential skill throughout school, work, and life. People who can clearly communicate complex ideas in simple terms tend to be successful in every industry and walk of life.
When kids learn how to code, they learn how to communicate with the most simple-minded audience imaginable: computers. Coding teaches people how to break down complex ideas and arrange them in a way that computers can understand, and this skill translates to a world of situations outside of the computer.
Steve Jobs once said, “Everyone should learn how to program a computer, because it teaches you how to think.” Your child may not grow up to be a computer programmer. But learning code is an opportunity to explore an area that might spark a lifelong interest, and learn some crucial skills along the way.
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