Teaching kids to code

Teaching kids to code - Even if you have never coded a thing before in your life, you really can help your kids learn to code AND it is super fun :-)

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Teaching kids to code is a hot topic.

It’s now on the national curriculum for kids from aged four here in the UK.

And in the US, President Obama has added his penny’sworth claiming coding is the “new literacy” and all kids need to learn.

But how on earth are you as a mum meant to teach your kids to code if you’ve never coded before?

And you’re maybe not even sure what it is?

Well, having done it and actually taught my six year old coding, you know what?

It’s much, much easier than you might think.

And you know what else?

You already know to teach your kids to code!

You already know how to teach coding!

Seriously, you do.

Because you see the thing is, code is just a language.

And you know how to teach your kids a language because you already helped them learn one.

There really are just a few simple things you need to remember.

So have a read through these and then head straight to the bottom of the post, and we’ll help you and your kids start coding for real …

(We coded this!)

How to teach your kids to code

1. Coding languages have sequences and patterns just like other languages.

2. Young children are hard wired to spot and absorb those patterns.

3. Songs and rhymes – and for older kids, jokes – are a great way to teach kids coding because they are full of sequences and patterns and routines just like code.

4. Children don’t need to be able to read to learn to code. Simple coding apps with drag and drop code blocks are available for kids. Don’t be fooled by the simplicity. Those blocks represent real, super powered coding concepts!

5. Get your kids making fun stuff quick. Let them feel the joy of creating.

6. But don’t just give them a blank screen and expect them to code … they’ll need examples to let them see what they could do and to help practice and absorb the patterns and rules.

7. We all know kids learn best through doing. They’re great at trying things out to see what happens and learning through what they see. This is the best way to let them learn to code.

8. Let their imagination run wild! Once they’ve learned some basic patterns and sequences, kids will be able to start coding their own stuff.

Then the world really is their oyster they can code whatever takes their fancy … stories, adventures, sport, science, fairy tales whatever they like …

And the more kids make and create stuff in code, the more fluent they’ll be, and coding really will be a new language … a new literacy … through which they can understand a changing world and express themselves within it.

We suggest you start young children – aged 3 – 7 year olds – with ScratchJr.

ScratchJr is a free kids’ coding app.

It’s an introductory programming language that enables young children to create their own interactive stories and games.

ScratchJr was inspired by the popular Scratch programming language (scratch.mit.edu).

ScratchJr is available as a free app for both iPad and Android tablets. For more information about ScratchJr, see scratchjr.org.

Teach your kids to code ... even if you have never coded before in your life

19 thoughts on “Teaching kids to code”

  1. I have an 11 year old who is LOVING learning to code.
    Her teacher sparked the interest earlier in the year and she has worked her way through Scratch and a few other programs aimed at older kids, and now she wants to learn CSS and is amazed that I know what that is! LOL

    1. Hope she’s suitably impressed by your knowledge Kate 🙂 One of the things we’re working on is ways to introduce even younger kids to html and css as it can be such a fun way to support writing and communication activities.

  2. Thanks for sharing these fab apps – will be checking them out. I agree that coding is so important to teach kids. My eye’s usually glaze over the second I see a bit of code but maybe I too will learn something.

  3. Hey! This is awesome! I’m always trying to get my little sister (now 13 to learn to code… and myself too!). Recently at work (CommuniGift.com) I was talking about a partnership with bitsbox.com, which is an awesome subscription-based kid’s coding curriculum. I figured I share it here!

    They have you designing apps, father’s day cards, etc. and it ROCKS! I feel like people who enjoyed this post might love to check it out!!

    Zack | CommuniGift.com


  4. If you don’t know how to code, look to your community.

    Is there a makerspace or hackerspace within traveling distance of your home? If so, surely someone there knows how to code. If not, find the closest one, and get on their mailing list/Facebook/whatever, and ask for help!

    Sure, there are online resources like exercism.io, CodeSchool, SkillShare, stackoverflow ad nauseum, but nothing beats a living breathing human being in the chair next to you.

    1. Hi Danielle would love to hear what your husband thinks, great to get perspective of a developer. There is meant to be an Android version of ScratchJnr by the end of this year and potentially Hopscotch too. For older kids both the original Scratch and Tynker are online so available for all. Hope that helps, Alice

  5. Luci, Co-Editor here, just wanted to add in response to Alice’s post, that Alice told me about Scratch Junior earlier this week. I downloaded the App, had a quick play with it myself to get my head around it – which was super easy – and now M, my 4 year old daughter – and I have already created our first animation, featuring a black and white cat called Little and ourselves!!! It is so much fun and I can literally see M’s brain whirring with excitement as she figures out how to use the coding blocks to make stuff happen on the screen. LOVE IT!! Luci x

  6. This is a great post-thanks for sharing the apps! My kids both learnt how to use Scratch when they were in primary school. Their school must have been very innovative as my daughter is nearly 18!

    Best wishes,
    Natasha in Oz

    1. So impressed by your daughter’s school Natasha … original version of Scratch has been around for ages but so few schools were using. The app is just a cut down version of the original version aimed at up to 7s. I should probably update the post and mention the original for older kids. Thanks so much for reminding me 🙂

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