Kids can code: Three tips to get little ones interested in computers
The world is powered by computers, and that isn't going to change any time soon.
The tech sector is expanding, growing by about 3.6 per cent in Canada between 2019 and 2020. In the U.S., COVID-19 caused a lag in tech industry revenue, but the 2.2 per cent revenue decline is expected to rebound quickly, with an anticipated growth rate of 5.2 per cent by the end of 2021.
Jobs for coders are expected to grow exponentially in the years to come, particularly in quantum computing, a rapidly expanding and lucrative sector that, despite being around since the 1980s, is still very much in its infancy.
But given the fact that everything, from our smartphones to our computers, to many of our appliances, is run on computer code, there are relatively few coders in the world.
According to Evans Data Corporation, there were an estimated 23.9 million coders in the world in 2019, out of 7.67 billion people. That is expected to grow to 28.7 million in 2024, and while still a relatively exclusive club, it represents a lot of future opportunities.
But learning to code can appear daunting, especially for kids — making it even more important to get them started young. Building up confidence and comfort around computers at an early age is especially important given research suggesting girls begin to doubt their intelligence around age 6.
In light of that, Juni Learning, an online Computer Science, Mathematics, & English academy that offers private, online courses to students between the ages of 8 and 18, shares these tips on getting kids interested in coding. You can get more tips here.
Children are more likely to stay interested in something that they can relate to. This is easy to do with coding because so many things, from video games like Minecraft to movies like Coco, are created with code.
Reminding students that they can learn the coding skills necessary to create video games and animation is a great motivator.
Introducing programming to young children through lines of syntax-heavy code can make coding seem like a large, unfriendly beast. Starting with a language like Scratch instead, which uses programming with blocks that fit together, makes it easier for kids to focus on the logic and flow of programs.
A good way to get your child excited about programming is to make it entertaining! Instead of starting with the traditional, “Hello World” approach to learning programming, intrigue your children with a curriculum that focuses on fun, engaging projects.
While Juni recommends kids start coding around age 8, caregivers can lay down the foundations of coding to children of any age. Problem-solving activities, like sorting coloured blocks or measuring ingredients while baking, help build critical thinking skills that will come in handy when using a computer.
“Outside a formalized STEM education, parents can support their child’s passions in a wide variety of ways,” Juni says on its website.
“By exposing children to nature emporiums, museums, science centers, zoos, aquariums, and libraries, parents can inspire and nurture their child’s inquisitive mind and creativity. These locations often offer a variety of hands-on workshops, events, summer camps and programs, and more. Not only are these activities fun for children, but they’re great for the whole family.”
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