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Thursday 5 October 2023

Exploring the Benefits of Coding for Young Learners

It is no secret that the world of technology is changing and evolving at a rapid rate, and in order to cope with this constant evolution, it is more important than ever that coding and the various essential elements of computer programming be taught to students at a younger and younger age.

benefits of coding for young learners - child sat at computer coding

What seems difficult to grasp to an uninitiated adult will hopefully feel like second nature to a young person growing up with all of the education and tools provided to them, and this is what is needed to ensure that generations of the future are adequately prepared to face all of the changes that are inevitably coming. Whilst there is plenty to read at Codemonkey on the subject, here is an exploration of some of the biggest benefits of coding for young learners.

Coding at its most simple level for young children starts with a basic set of instructions. This idea of instructions doesn't even have to start with any technology, but an understanding of how to give the right set of instructions, in the right order, to fulfill an end goal. For example, as an educator, you can demonstrate 'The Juice Robot' to your young child. Set up a table with an empty glass, a jug of water and some cordial. Stand back fro the table and explain that you are 'the robot'. Your child has to give you EXACTLY the right instructions in order to drink a glass of juice. Carry out each instruction as they say it, and demonstrate whether it works or not. Of course, the first instruction should be 'step forward to the table', but it is amazing to see - in every year of my Teaching career, almost all children said 'pour the cordial in the glass' as their first instruction. This visual and interactive activity helps them to work out how to break down a process into small steps ready to move onto more technology focused coding with tangible resources such as coding robots for technology in the Early Years - and advanced coding as they get older. 

What Are Some Benefits Of Coding For Children?

  •  It helps to improve their problem solving abilities.
  •  It helps to advance computational thought.
  •  It helps to enhance logic and mathematical abilities.
  •  It helps to promote persistence.
  •  It helps to foster innovation.
  •  It assists in the teaching of digital literacy.
  •  It is a skill that will build career opportunities in the future.
  •  It can enhance communication skills and confidence.
  •  It can provide a fresher perspective on the world.

Now, let us elaborate on some of the most important elements of coding for kids.

  •  Help Children To Become More Creative Problem Solvers

Putting an idea into code practice requires a lot of careful planning, and this is a skill that children can cultivate. Planning enables them to foresee and envision potential challenges and come up with solutions, overall enhancing their problem-solving abilities.

Additionally, children are required to grasp instructions and apply structured thought to organize their ideas when writing computer programs, which is a vital skill for problem-solving. The need to regularly test their code aligns with problem-solving principles as they have to experiment with different solutions before finding the right answers.

Tasks like debugging and addressing code issues are akin to immediate problem-solving for kids. As they learn to code, test, and debug, children also develop communication skills through activities like seeking help, providing feedback, and accepting criticism from peers and educators, and all of these things are integral aspects of effective problem-solving.

  • Particularly Beneficial In The Realm Of Mathematics And Science

Coding provides children with a real and tangible way to interact with some of the more potentially abstract mathematical concepts like conditioning, sequencing, equations, and decomposition, rather than just seeing them as intimidating numbers and equations on paper.

When children practice long division through coding, for example, they find it much easier to grasp the concepts involved. Additionally, coding offers a practical illustration of the significance of simple things like decimal places, which helps students gain a deeper understanding of mathematics in general. By altering a decimal piece of code and witnessing how much of an impact it has on the screen, students can solidify their math skills in a much wider context.

In the realm of science, students are constantly encountering the challenge of working out how to utilize data in their research. Through trial and error and exposure to various applications, coding can help to equip them with the means to effectively transform qualitative discoveries into quantitative statistics. This might sound confusing on paper, but the reality feels very natural in the moment! This hands-on experience empowers students to bridge the gap between their scientific findings and data interpretation.

  • Helps To Build Confidence And Self Esteem

Coding serves as a very powerful avenue for children to unleash their creativity and enhance the various skills that are connected to it. It serves to foster self-expression, nurtures problem- solving abilities, and promotes logical thinking, which as we discussed above can ultimately boost self-esteem and confidence.

When children take on the challenges of creating their own games, they develop critical thinking skills and find innovative solutions to seemingly insurmountable problems, and doing so in a fun and innovative way goes a long way to broadening their perspectives.

Coding for kids can also teach resilience as they navigate frustrations and negative emotions in order to achieve success. Early grasping of digital literacy skills will prepare them for future job opportunities and provide a much deeper understanding of the modern world around them.