The kids have been inside ALOT! The video games and screen time has been ALOT! I will admit it, my son has had a lot of video game time. I did justify that as a 7th grader he has rocked distant learning. There has been some rough times, but he is self-motivated and still pulling A’s and B’s consistently. So, I feel as long as he puts work first and gets it done well, playtime is his.
I have also learned a bit about his learning style since he is at home for his education. He learns by doing and also has a good ear. With subjects like math and science, STEM play is a great way to teach while they have fun so learning topics like coding, construction and mapping becomes engaging. Coding Express by Robobloq is a brilliant STEM toy that kids as young as 3 can play and learn with.
This Coding Express train runs exactly how your child tells it to. You can build the included track in so many configurations, then use the 19 color-coded inductive stickers as commands that your train will read and follow. These stickers will guide in direction, certain sounds it will make in its travels, and other effects like stoppage time at certain spots, etc.
For instance, your child can place a play stoplight and code it to stop for 3 seconds then go as if it was actually stopping for the light. Have a whistle? You will want one. If your child blows a whistle at the train it will accelerate. The imagination and creativity will become outstanding as they play. The bonus, they get introduced to coding concepts.
More than commands, the Coding Express intelligent built-in infrared sensor can sense any objects in front of it and avoid/follow it. You even have the option to expand the track system easily as Coding Express track is compatible with other track systems such as Thomas 7 Friends, BRIO and IKEA.
We all want our students to gain the life skills they need to achieve academic, personal, and eventually career success. But with so many important skills and extracurriculars available for them to learn, it can be hard to know what to prioritize.
Coding is one skill that stands out in the modern era. It offers kids a boost in important life skills, socialization, and schooling — as well as a headstart on their future careers.
Here are our top 8 reasons why every kid should learn to code.
1. Coding gives a new way to look at the world
Computer code is a way to describe reality — similar to English or any other language. A programming language, just like any natural language, has its own grammar and syntactic rules. Thus, learning to code is very much like learning a second language and provides many of the same advantages.
2. Coding fosters creativity
Taking a mental image and giving it form in the real world is the very heart of creativity. Even at an early age, students can harness their creative abilities to make animated graphics, websites, and interactive video games with their coding skills.
Coding is one of the few creative venues that results in truly interactive works — and there is nothing more exciting for kids than interacting with your own creations. This serves as an excellent supplement to other creative venues, giving kids another way to bring their artistic ideas to life.
3. Coding improves math and logic skills
Learning code teaches kids computational thinking — the process of breaking down complicated tasks into individual steps (like loops, conditionals, etc.) that a computer can understand. This is the same process used to break down complex arguments, and is a pillar of logical thinking. The more kids practice coding, the better their logic skills will become.
Math skills can often feel abstract and hard to grasp. This is particularly true as a student enters high school-level mathematics, a transition that many of us have struggled with. Coding projects can make math concepts feel more real. As students proceed to learn pre-algebra, algebra, and geometry, variables and other concepts that they have already garnered from computer science are sure to give them a headstart.
4. Coding helps children with problem-solving
Simple coding projects offer an excellent introduction to problem-solving skills at a young age. Coders learn how to break down complex problems into simpler ones. This is one of the most crucial and rewarding parts of problem-solving.
With coding, students can test solutions to make sure they work. Few other problem-solving experiences offer this benefit. When all else fails, they improve their Google research skills while seeking solutions, and who wouldn’t benefit from being better at independent research?
5. Coding projects help kids develop resilience
The ability to cope with failure is a vital life skill. Through coding, kids learn that failure is a stepping stone, not an ending. Recovering from a misstep happens quickly with coding. The process is less frustrating because students can try several solutions quickly. This makes it much easier to develop resilience without feeling overwhelmed.
Even just an hour of code a day through hands-on coding projects can teach kids the importance of persistence and resilience.
They can also bring their coding skills into their current favorite toys and games. Minecraft add-ons are an amazing example. Kids can use code to enhance activities that they already know and love!
7. Coding is a social activity
Remember all those coding projects we already talked about? Your student can also show off what they built to their friends! Sharing how they built their favorite game reinforces what they have learned and improves their confidence. When your student shows off that new Minecraft add-on or video game they built, their friends are sure to be impressed.
And there’s another way to turn coding into a social activity: Hackathons for kids. These virtual competitions give kids a chance to work on collaborative problem-solving and building with a goal in mind. It’s hard to find better preparation for teamwork skills in school or work!
8. Coding prepares students for the careers of the future
Finally, we can’t end this list without mentioning careers. Coding skills are indicators of digital literacy — a necessity in this digital age! Nearly 50% of all jobs require some coding skills.
Of course, these skills are especially crucial for coding and computer science careers. Further, coders are proven problem solvers and logical thinkers, skills that are valuable in any career field.
Ready to get started learning code?
Individually, each of these is a strong reason for your student to learn coding. When combined, they make coding one of the most valuable skills for young kids in the 21st century!
Finding resources to help kids become computer programmers used to be hard. Over the past several years, the advent of online courses and guided coding projects has made the process much easier.
A Juni Instructor teaches Scratch to a student.
Juni Learning is here to help as well. We offer a range of private and group online coding courses for kids ages 8-18 that gives students solid foundations in computer science, logical thinking, and even creative subjects like website design. Every student is matched with an expert instructor who’ll be their personal guide into the world of coding.
Smarty JOJO!™ is not just smart, he is interactive. Smarty JOJO toy teaches directions, shapes, colors and opposites with play. Flycatcher is an early UK company that offers innovative tech toys that are brilliant. Available in the US on Amazon is this genius toy plane with personality (if there is a toy out there that has its own personality, JOJO is it)! He retails for under $25 and I still can hardly believe its price point is that low for what he offers in play.
The question I had after learning about Smarty JOJO is how well he actually performs in person so I was able to give him a try. I do not have any preschoolers at home. I do watch my 12 month old nephew – too young for this but he was highly intrigued by his voice and fun design. He carried it all around with him. But I was the one who played with Smarty JOJO for his features and any child from 3-5 will have instant friend with JOJO.
Let me list his awesome features for you
Speaks English and Spanish
Encourages physical play with its motion sensors. The more your child moves with JOJO the more fun he offers
Fun missions teach directions, shapes, opposites, and emotional intelligence: Right & Left, Up & Down, Fast & Slow to name a few
Follow a task correctly and JOJO’s lights flash as he states you are correct
Kids learn as they play. For instance, when JOJO is asking your child to “go left” or “go right” there is a small light on each wing that will light up so they know which direction is right/left. When asked to go “land on a color” he will flash lights and give a congratulatory command to indicate you are correct.
He will surely be a hit over the Holidays. Smarty JOJO is likely to remain my favorite recommendation for ages 3-5 for the 2020 Holidays! Find Smarty JOJO and other Flycatcher products on Amazon. Another Flycatcher hit in our home for the older sibling (ages 5-99) is the smART Sketcher! Learn more at Flycatcher Toys!
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