Education, STEM Learning

8 Reasons Coding for Kids is Not Just Another Fad

8 Reasons Coding for Kids is Not Just Another Fad
Image by Виктория Бородинова from Pixabay

Is Coding a Fad?

In short, no. Coding is a field that is growing and changing quickly; there is a world of opportunity for young students looking to get involved in the tech world. Opponents to this position might argue that today’s popular languages, like Python, won’t be used ten or fifteen years down the line. So what’s the use in learning these programming languages?

While it is true that programming will continue to advance, it is important to remember that there is so much more to learning a coding language like Python than memorizing syntax and applications. When we teach coding, we teach concepts beyond one particular language. Students gain knowledge about how computers process and “think” about a given problem, regardless of which language they are learning. They gain important intuition about fundamental concepts, like basic control structures (e.g. loops and conditional statements) and algorithms, that will undoubtedly be useful in our highly technological future. Below are 8 of the many reasons why coding for kids is not just another trendy or silly fad.

1. Our world is growing more technological

In the 21st century, we have seen enormous developments in the technology industry. The world is moving in a direction that is both fast-paced and information-centered. Data is quickly becoming one of the most valuable resources in the global economy, and individuals with digital literacy are becoming more valued in the labor market. With all of this in mind, it’s hard to ignore the massive role that fields like data science and software engineering, both largely centered around coding, are going to have. Figures estimate seemingly outrageous numbers – an estimated fifty billion smart devices are projected to be in use by 2020 – illustrating the abundance of technology in our lives.

With such statistics in our near futures, it is clear to see that industries are changing. The internet is a hub of information, applications, e-commerce, social networking, and communication platforms, all of which are designed to increase efficiency, performance, and convenience. As industries become digitized, new jobs are simultaneously emerging. Coding is an asset that will only continue to grow as we move forward as an increasingly connected society.

2. It teaches kids to strategize for unique solutions

Computer science is a highly useful tool beyond its direct applications. As there is rarely one right answer to a given problem, computer science encourages students to create solutions that are unique. For computer scientists, this means that coders have a great amount of leeway to create their own intuitive solutions.

Coding for kids pushes young students to actually learn, not just memorize facts and regurgitate them. It challenges students to critically think about a problem, what they want to accomplish, and how to get it done. There are plenty of kid-friendly coding languages, such as Scratch, that give young students the opportunity to build unique projects using coding techniques. Scratch also allows coders to share their projects with the world. This connectivity can inspire new and aspiring coders to learn from their peers and guide them through more complicated projects and concepts. This collaborative environment also allows students to work together and learn from one another. Encouraging kids to utilize these programs not only teaches them useful skills for computer science, but it also allows them to exercise their creativity.

3. It teaches students to not give up

Most coders will advise, while there is plenty of room for creativity in coding, there is also plenty of room for error. Learning to code teaches students how not to give up on their solutions, but rather to debug their code, even when repeated error messages appear. Coders tease out solutions by using their understanding of computational thinking (see point 6) to isolate any errors and achieve the goal at hand.

That code can always be improved upon motivates coding students to go back and better their solutions, an incredibly valuable skill set to have in general. Code also instills resilience, yet another invaluable tool in the workplace. While programming can feel tedious, frustrating, and difficult at times, the process of problem solving inherently makes for better coders and better students.

4. It can be applied to almost everything that students are learning

Computer science is expanding into every corner of the world, with applications for anything one can imagine and automated services that are permeating thousands of business models worldwide. On top of that, programming incorporates many mathematical concepts, and it can complement the concepts students are learning in their math classes.

Coding for kids and adults also promotes problem-solving, an important skill for any student. Beyond math, students can use code to support other interests they may have. With coding, young professionals’ career options extend across industries. By teaching kids how to code, students will find the confidence and tools to explore aspects of software engineering, data analysis, video game development, and mobile app development – in just about any industry that they know and love.

5. Coding for kids is challenging and collaborative

Coding challenges young students to explore new fields. Computer science is a collaborative field, allowing individuals to work together to complement one another’s skill sets, and write code that is efficient and intuitive. Students can and often do learn to code in a group setting, so that they can discuss their ideas and learn from each other’s successes. Learning to code encourages students to work together when they reach a roadblock. It promotes collaboration via idea exchange and allows students’ to compare and contrast solutions. Teaching kids about computer programming can be a catalyst for inspiring teamwork and leadership among students.

6. It teaches students about computational thinking

Whichever languages a student decides to pursue – Python, Java, or any of the long list of popular coding languages today – will help them develop computational thinking. This means that students will learn how to effectively break down problems into manageable parts, observe patterns in data, identify how these patterns are generated, and develop the step-by-step instructions for solving those problems.

Computational thinking and digital literacy are arguably the most important aspect to learning to code at any age due to the huge technological shift in nearly every industry on the global market (see point 1). Establishing a foundation in computational thinking will pave the way for future success in and outside CS related fields. All students can benefit from understanding computational thinking, as it applies to the technological aspects of daily life.

7. It’s good for the brain

Like any good challenge, coding is an excellent way to strengthen young, developing brains. It encourages students to combine their knowledge of computational learning and out-of-the-box thinking to strategize unique solutions.

Multiple studies support the hypothesis that learning to code has real, long term benefits on young children. Researchers have found that individuals who code tend to have reduced odds of getting neurodegenerative diseases in older age. Coders also tend to do better in cognitive tasks, because coding activates areas of the brain that are associated with memory, attention, and logic. Learning to code at an early age supports neural connections in these regions, leading to high performance in other fields, as well.

8. It’s fun!

While we may be slightly biased, computer science is an educational way to bring fun into your children’s lives! Computer science is one of the few fields of study in which students can see the immediate outcome of their work as they build out their projects – by running their code, they get instant, live feedback.

Programs like Scratch and Repl.it utilize software that is kid-friendly and permits students to visualize their projects as they come to life! They can build code that creates a videogame or a website and share their work with friends. Developing kids’ proficiency with computer science now will lead to a future generation of coders who have the skill set to advance our world.

I hope you enjoyed this guest article from a Juni Learning contributor.
This article originally appeared on junilearning.com

Books Reviews, Children's Books, STEM Learning

Overwatch: The Hero of Numbani – Teen Book Review

Overwatch: The Hero of Numbani

Overwatch: The Hero of Numbani

With a book that your tweens and teens will relate with, this story is based off of a popular video game. The story begins with high school friends that are into robots. A bit of girls in science and a lot of STEM and robotics fun. They will recognize the game’s fan-favorite characters Orisa, Doomfist, and Lucio!

Overwatch book

Synopsis of Overwatch: The Hero of Numbani

In the technologically advanced African city of Numbani, in the not-so-distant future, a hero named Efi Oladele rises! Efi may only be eleven, but after she witnesses an attack on her city by the terrorist known as Doomfist, she realizes you’re never too young to make a difference.

Efi builds an intelligent robot named Orisa to give Numbani the hero it deserves. Orisa has a lot to learn before she’s ready to save the city, but Efi has some things to learn too, especially when it comes to building — and being — a hero.

Buy the book a Amazon!

Apps, Education, Infant Toddler Products, Parenting, STEM Learning

Animal Island Learning Adventure (AILA) Sit & Play for Babies and Toddlers

Photo Source: AILA Sit & Play Lifestyle

I think I found the most genius learning screen ever made for babies and toddlers and the only problem is my oldest is 11 now and missed the boat on this one! I would have surely had him using Animal Island Learning Adventure (AILA) Sit & Play as a toddler for many reasons! Instead we had DVD’s and bulky tablets we always feared he’d drop, spill on them or navigate into unsafe content.

AILA box

Animal Island Learning Adventure (AILA) Sit & Play is safe! It comes pre-loaded with early preschool curriculum that supports your infant, toddler or preschooler’s cognitive growth, without interruptions from ads, apps, or inappropriate content.

AILA Sit Play

About Animal Island Learning Adventure (AILA) Sit and Play:

  • Original exclusive series: a fun and robust curriculum filled with animations, songs and stories designed to prepare toddlers for preschool over the course of 18 months
  • Along the way, young learners will reach key milestones in literacy, numeracy, communication, creativity and socialization
  • Activities are delivered in 10-15-minute learning sessions, in accordance with the American Academy of Pediatrics’ guidelines for screen time for young children
  • No ads or inappropriate content, free lifetime updates with no subscription required
  • The AI adapts to each child’s engagement, allows for a tailored learning experience and offers the right content at the right time
  •  The AILA Parent App lets parents set learning sessions, check in on their child, send photos and videos, and control the screen time

The characters are engaging and there is a good mix of talk, song and even dance to get them moving. Even in screen-free homes, you can’t ignore the benefits of technology to assist in child development so this is the perfect solution. It is hands-free and worry-free. Once you press power it starts teaching-no touchscreen/play required. If you have to walk away and power it off, AILA remembers where your child left off and starts right back up again at their last learning session. It is designed to walk your child through a progressive learning plan.

The free parent app allows you to make some customized adjustments. You can monitor screen time and progress. You get alerts and updates on content your child is currently mastering. The fun part is you can monitor your child as in, you can see their face as your phone app becomes the screens point of view. Make sure they are still engaged. Available for Android and iOS.

If you need to move from learning to nap time, simply put AILA in lullaby mode and slow animation with sleepy-time music will play. Traveling? AILA is portable as learning and sleep help.

Get learning now because the earlier the better as we now know. AILA is best for ages 12-36 months. This learning program is simply the best value and best curriculum I have seen yet in all baby and toddler products I have seen involving a screen. I highly recommend for families looking technology but not game play. Remember, they don’t press the screen or buttons. They sit and learn (only instead of a Teacher they get fun and engaging animal friends). Buy AILA today – It’s at Amazon!