The benefits of teaching children how to code may not be clear in the early stages, but as they develop their coding skills, so do their analytical and creative problem solving skills. The main drive behind the movement to teach coding, robotics or technology in general usually centers around preparing the children for future jobs. There is a significant shortage in manpower in the computer science industry, just waiting for skilled job seekers to walk into. This trend is expected to rise even more.
The other not-so-widely-known opinion is that learning to code especially among children is not to produce more coders or programmers. It is learning how to learn, and learning how to think.
Whatever the drive or motivation may be, the benefits of children learning to code is undeniable. Here are some of them.
1. Life lessons
Coding facilitates thinking creatively and outside of the box. It is a common believe in the coding community that there are always more than one way to achieve a task. It is also common for trial-and-errors, failing quick and learning from failures. Coding teaches children to get out of their comfort zone, to fail fast and fail cheap so that they can try again and again. And again after that.
Another skill development that coding develops is to isolate and fix errors. This logical analysis of discovering the root of a problem and creating solutions is something that they can further carry out in other subject matter as well. They will also learn to use tools such as diagrams and flowcharts can also help to develop a more structured and procedural approach to thinking and learning. In the coding and computer science domain, these tools are very useful. They can also be applied into various other domains as well.
With this expectations, the benefits of teaching children how to code becomes clear as they continuously attempt one coding projects after another.
2. Learning to code teaches about learning and teaching.
Children with early exposure to computer science and coding often catches the ‘coding bug’. ‘What can we do with this’, ‘How else can it be done’, and sometimes ‘What else can it do?’ are just some of the questions that they ask almost immediately after successfully completing their first program. They are more open to self-learning and exploration, less encumbered by fear of failing and are more helpful with other children in completing their goals.
For instance, a child who has figured out how to create a scrolling game suddenly becomes the teacher. Other children who wants to solve similar problem will eventually seek this child. This helps to boost the child’s confidence and self-esteem.
Everybody in this country should learn to program a computer, because it teaches you how to think” — Steve Jobs
3. Problem solving skills
In coding, sequencing and structure is crutial to ensure that the program not only runs properly but is also easy to troubleshoot and improve. The first step is usually identifying and creating the variables, followed by other instructions to manipulate the variables.
This core process can be used as a base to develop problem solving skills. Beginning with identifying elements and resources available, followed by creating the process to solve any problem.
Another core concept in programming is to break down the whole program into smaller, more managable subs or functions. This is akin to breaking down a big problem into smaller, more managable issues. For a child, this could mean class and homework management, task and chores or even play!
4. Relating theory to the real world.
Computer science and coding can make any subjects at school fun, interactive, engaging and immersive. Apps and softwares that can create and simulate concepts quickly. Even something as simple as coding to draw polygons challenges the children to think logically, sequentially and creatively.
Take for an example of a simple program that draws a square. The child would have to determine where to start and how big the square is going to be. Then he needs to consider the angles for each of the corner. He can then add elements of creativity and art. He can decide what colour the lines are, and what colour to fill the square with.
5. Expansion of creativity.
There is only so much that a textbook can tell you, and teachers can help you along so far, but with the help of a little bit of coding, your children can explore various subject matters creatively. Mathematics can be represented with formulas and variables. Certain robots excels in simulating science and physics. Even history can be told as if it was alive with a little bit of coding.
There are many more benefits of teaching children how to code, you just have to give them a chance to explore it.