I was one of the lucky ones in the ’80s to have access to a computer, a Commodore 64. It belonged to my older brother, and as soon as he wasn’t at home, I had my hands on it. My brother subscribed to a computer magazine, where they always published code for some small programs, in the programming language Basic. I just loved to sit and type in the code to see if I could create the program myself. I was successful sometimes, but not always. It was frustrating when the program did not work and you could not find what went wrong in the code. There were no easily accessible communities on the net, to ask for help, back then. 😉
Today, I think it is a lot easier for kids to learn how to code. One reason is much more visual ways to program. I really recommend everyone to check out the free community https://scratch.mit.edu. Scratch is a programming language that makes it easy to create interactive art, stories, simulations, games, and then share those creations online. You don’t need to have any earlier experience in coding at all!
I think the answer is as soon as they know how to read.
Scratch has been designed for kids between the ages of 8-16, but it is not limited to that. Age doesn’t matter. According to the info on the community’s website, Scratch is available in more than 150 countries and it has been translated into more than 40 languages.
And, there is an option for the younger kids too. There is a free app called ScratchJr, which is recommended for kids between the ages of 5-7. One small drawback with that app is, that it is only available in a few languages, for the time being.
I felt I had to test ScratchJr, so I downloaded the app and showed it to my 4,5-year-old daughter. With very little help from me, she did in fact put together some code and got the sprite (a cat icon) to move around. That is amazing!
Kids of today likely interact with new technology daily. They know how to send a text, how to search for information, how to take photos, how to play games, and so on. Kids know how to use new technology, but they don’t know how it works. I would like to compare this to being able to read. The ability to read, enables the possibilities to learn, even more, i.e. you can read more books to gain more knowledge.
If the ability to write is added, then there is a good start to be able to create a lot of stuff themselves. The reason we keep teaching kids to write is not that they all should become famous authors, right? So, the reason to teach kids coding is not that they all should end up as professional programmers. As I see it, the three main reasons to teach kids about coding are to improve their skills to:
Since we live in an increasingly technological and global world, I believe that our children will be asked to solve many problems that will require them to think for themselves and come up with their own answers. I think the skills to think creatively, work collaboratively and reason systematically will be really helpful in life.
If you want to know more about my reflections on how to support your kids to be explorers for life, read my post: Explorers for life.
Do you have any thoughts about this? I would really appreciate if you leave a message below!