Not too many years ago, it was unthinkable, but now it happens: bookstores (physical or virtual) are full of books and stories to introduce young children to programming.
When I was little, it was said that “computers are the future”. Now is the present. More and more programmers are needed for different tasks, programming languages, development of web applications, desktop or mobile apps, etc.
They say that when our children are adults, many will work in professions that do not exist today. I agree, and I think that many of those professions will have to do with programming applications for different types of devices.
So, why not teach them from a very young age some basic concepts and ideas, in a fun way? Maybe they like the subject, get bitten by the bug and end up being good programmers. It doesn’t look like there will be a lack of work on that for a long time.
Benefits of learning to program for children
Programming is not just about standing in front of a computer and writing code without stopping. Programming is an activity that has many benefits directly applicable to children, such as:
- Encourages creativity and logical thinking. Programming consists of solving a problem using code, written in a certain language. For this, the programmer has to think of different solutions to reach that goal, and if they have several solutions, think about which one may be faster or safer. Know how to manage the tools and resources you have to achieve a solution.
- Promotes the ability to organize ideas, to be more structured and organized. A programming code is usually made up of different smaller pieces of code, or functions so that each function solves a small task.
- Fosters social relationships with other children, if for example it is done in a classroom and working groups are created, where each child contributes ideas or proposals.
- It encourages the desire to improve, since once a game has been finished, for example, we can always ask ourselves: what if I make more difficult levels? What if I add a bookmark? What if I add other abilities to the character? It fosters that enthusiasm to improve what we have already been able to do. Or try to repeat the code so that it is faster or use fewer methods (more optimized).
- Lastly, it can (and SHOULD) be fun, at these levels. Because we are talking about programming for children. And what is the best way for a child to learn? Exactly: playing. A child’s first “program” may consist of small games where they have to solve a puzzle or where they have to make a character achieve a goal.
Scratch: the programming language to get started
We said that there are numerous programming languages, in the same way that there are many languages in the world. But, what is the ideal programming language to learn? The answer is Scratch.
Scratch is a visual language developed by MIT. Highlight the word “ visual ”, because that is what makes it easy to use. Scratch is widely used by teachers or parents to teach children, as it allows you to easily create animations, games, etc.
It is a language that does not require mastering code writing, but rather it is more visual, through the use of blocks that you can drag and drop to examine the results of running the program.
Scratch is free and can be installed by entering here:
Below Aark Learnings has talked about programming books and visual guides to learn from scratch, aimed at children… keep reading!
Programming in Minecraft
Another example of a popular educational game for teaching children programming is Minecraft. Minecraft is a building game where players can create and explore virtual worlds.
The game also has a game mode called “Adventure Mode,” which allows players to create their own interactive stories and adventures. To do this, players must learn to program using the “Blockly” programming language, which is similar to Scratch.
At Lifecole, they offer a Minecraft course for kids that teaches them the fundamentals of programming through play. Lifecole’s Minecraft course is a great way for kids to learn the basics of programming while having fun creating their own stories and adventures. The course is designed for children ages 8 to 12 and covers topics such as programming logic, control structures, variables, and events.
In addition to the Minecraft course, Lifecole also offers a wide variety of programming and technology courses for kids, ranging from basic programming to game and mobile app design. All Lifecole courses are designed to be fun, interactive and easy to follow, with practical exercises and personalized tutoring to ensure children have a good understanding of the concepts.
Programming books for children
There are several programming initiation books, oriented to children’s language, for children from 5 years old, with games and activities to make it more fun, and very visual and entertaining.
In order not to make this article so long, we have created a main article, where we have a selection of ideal books to introduce children to computer programming:
We have already talked about online video games and books… and of course, there are also board games for children to learn their first programming concepts. From just 4 years old, we have Robot Turtles ( read review ), and for slightly older children, from 8 years old, we have Code Master ( read review ).
In my case, without a doubt, when my children are old enough, I want to teach them all this “universe” of programming for children. Without forcing, but I do want to put it within your reach and show it to you.
Let them know it, let them play. If they don’t like it, leave something else. But if you like it, it is an option to start a possible professional career from your early years that I believe will continue to be “the future” for a while.
Did you know all these resources? What do you think of teaching programming to children? Are you going to dare to show them this world?