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“Coding” involves writing programs for the creation of computer software, websites and apps. How old do you have to be to learn this skill? As it turns out, children in kindergarten are able to grasp the concepts of coding and are developing highly useful skills through it.
Of course, children that young are not taught the traditional programming languages. Rather, they are introduced to fundamental programming concepts, such as sequencing, loops and conditionals, which are required to code in any language, through exciting activities.
Some may argue that kids that young require other other activities like open-ended play or reading. However, as coding is increasingly being into the school curricula, experts have found that learning this in the early years has helped in inculcating vital skills.
For instance, researchers have released apps which allow children to program their own interactive games and stories. Research suggests that engaging students in computer-based learning and science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) from an early age helps retain their interest in these subjects even if they become more challenging in high school and college.
An early introduction to the concepts of coding has been prompted by this line of thinking. Here are some of the skills that coding helps develop:
1. Problem solving-
When kindergarten students learn coding, they collaborate with their peers and develop social skills. So they learn about academics as well as social behaviour, which excellently addresses problem-solving. They are taught to identify problems, plan and execute solutions and then evaluate whether these worked. If the solutions do not work, they can figure out why and then go back and make corrections.
2. Order and sequencing-
Young students focus on ordering and patterns, including creation and discernment of patterns. Coding lends itself perfectly to this structured or mathematical way of thinking, where changing an order or a sequence has effects that are immediately apparent to students.
3. Visual spatial skills-
Coding often involves visualising, predicting and orienting objects moving through space and time. Students can improve these skills, for example, by developing the ability to mentally track, rotate, manipulate and orientate robots.
4. Self-expression and communication-
Students can represent their thoughts on a screen in a nonverbal way through programming and it can be a mode of expression similar to writing. Also, when children create tangible or digital content while learning coding, rather than simply being consumers of such content, they often learn by making mistakes during the process of creation.
5. Acceptance of mistakes-
Children who code get acquainted with the notion that failure can also be a positive outcome and that it is alright to make mistakes, which would serve them well later in life. When they focus on their own challenges related to creation, students tend to follow a process which leads them away from the idea of perfectionism. They are able to ‘mess up’ which offers them a greater opportunity for learning.
Experts predict that more than a million programming jobs will remain unfilled worldwide by 2020. Therefore, in order to participate in a high-tech economy, it is important for students to learn how to code and they should get started in kindergarten.