While some parents feel that coding is an extremely complex subject that should be introduced later on in their kids’ lives, research has shown that today’s children are capable of starting programming as early as age five.
Over the last five years, we have seen hundreds of kids coding academies crop up in cities around the world.
Using easy-to-learn courses, these academies teach children the fundamentals of coding with Minecraft mod creation, Roblox game development, drone programming, and web development. Their goal is to make coding fun and interesting for younger learners. Classes are often organized by age and skill level, which makes it easy for every student to stay on track.
But some skeptical parents and educators still ask themselves: “Is learning to code actually a good use of my child’s time?”
The short answer is YES.
In this article, we are going to cover how enrolling your children in a coding academy can provide them with a number of important 21st century skills that can have a profound impact on their futures:
1. A Code Academy Prepares Kids for the Future
Technology plays a big part of our lives now and every day its influence appears to be growing. It’s almost impossible to imagine a day in which we don’t interact with software in some form.
When we wake up in the morning, we reach out for mobile devices. We ask Alexa about the weather. We check traffic on Google. We review calendars and to-do lists on Salesforce. We are constantly connected to a network via our phone or some other device as we shop, browse, text, view videos, and more.
The list is literally endless and appears to be growing each month. Of course, behind all of these inventions is a software developer clanking away at a keyboard.
However, as end users, we don’t really think about the programming languages that fuel up different types of apps and software.
For instance, if you use Dropbox, you are primarily interested in syncing all your files and safely storing them online. If you’re on YouTube, you want to enjoy your favorite tunes. But, when you dig deeper and unlock the way Dropbox and YouTube work, you will see they are entirely written in Python. Being a programming language that’s both powerful and beginner-friendly, Python enables developers to bring their ideas to life quickly. That’s why Sergey Brin and Larry Page originally used it to build today’s most powerful search engine, Google.
By introducing kids to the way software works, you are triggering their curiosity and challenging them to become creators, not just observers. That’s what coding academies do. When you manage to make learning how to code awe-inspiring, you show kids they can really make a difference in the future.
Tech solutions play such a large role in modern life, so we are in constant need of more people who understand how they work.
Coding is definitely a skill that will become even more valuable in the near future. According to the research conducted by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics – by 2020, employment in the IT sector is expected to grow by 22 percent.
Considering this, one could say that mastering the fundamentals of coding is no longer a luxury, but a necessity for younger generations.
Regardless of the fact that only 10 percent of US schools teach coding and only 9 states recognize computer science as an academic credit, there are still a lot of places where kids can learn to code. Coding academies are here to help children not only to become competitive in the job market, but also to become creators who can make the world a better place.
2. Code Academies Stimulate Creativity
Coding academies provide kids with mental tools that help them further develop their left brains and expand the limits of their imagination. Once they master the basics of computer programming, kids get an opportunity to express themselves in a whole new way; coding transforms their ideas into reality.
For the sake of the argument, let’s focus on Minecraft for a moment.
While most parents see it as nothing more than a game, Minecraft is a powerful tool for teaching youngsters how to use logic and handle basic geometry. It runs on Java, and its open architecture makes it possible for players to make all types of edits to the game.
Kids can redesign various elements within Minecraft, including characters, objects, and entire landscapes. The possibilities are endless.
Coding inspires kids to experiment. As they gradually build their knowledge, students start perceiving the process of learning as fun and empowering. They master new commands and put them to practice. Each time they succeed at building a functional block of code, they feel encouraged to try new things.
Just like young scientists, kids love testing out their hypotheses. These actions are always tightly connected to their desire to play, and they ultimately help children gain confidence and become resistant to failure. In 2011, Steve Jobs wrote an extraordinary essay on the topic and explained the tight connection between technology and liberal arts, underlining the vast possibilities of coding. As he noted, learning programming languages can actually help us discover new connections between precise mathematical skills on one side, and arts and humanities on the other.
By showing kids from an early age that everything is possible with a smattering of imagination and a bit of hard work, you’re encouraging them to pursue their ideas and become innovative. As a result, you’ll likely see them mature into confident and proactive adults, which is definitely a plus – even if they don’t end up becoming programmers later in life.
3. Kids Gain Problem Solving Skills
A common misconception about basic coding is that it is too complicated for children, and that kids do not have the ability correct code when things go wrong.
This act of troubleshooting, or “debugging” is actually quite accessible for children when taught in the correct manner.
The first thing kids learn is to identify the problem and then gather necessary data to overcome the encountered obstacle. Then, they come up with the best ways to analyze and extract concrete information, and they do so by asking themselves the right types of questions. They then critically assess their options and find the best possible solution for a specific issue. When available kids learn how to read and follow debug text which helps them identify where the computer is having issues with their code.
The skills involved in troubleshooting code actually teach children valuable skills that can be used in other subject areas and even outside the classroom. As Steve Jobs famously put it: “Coding teaches you how to think.”
Coding academies encourage students to complete a variety of assignments which revolve around changes they make to the game itself. And the best part? Kids get to see instant results.
We at CodaKid believe that the most practical way to teach children coding is through a hands-on approach. Every single one of our courses has a practical side that challenges students to think critically and use their imagination.
4. A Code Academy Can Do Wonders for the Cognitive Development of Children
A number of research studies show that learning computer programming promotes the development of higher mental functions.
For instance, a study conducted by Janet Siegmund and her colleagues used an MRI scanner to observe the brain activity of 17 different subjects while they were working on specific pieces of code. Siegmund and her team ran cognitively similar tasks and analyzed specific brain regions, as well as brain reactions, once the subjects were exposed to certain lines of code.
The results were eye-opening. The team discovered the connected activity of five different brain regions related to language processing, attention, and working memory. It turns out, neural paths that are typically employed in verbal processing were triggered, including the ventral lateral prefrontal cortex.
Coding teaches kids to think procedurally and that helps with tackling complex problems from a very early age. Like any muscle in the body, the brain needs training in order to function properly. It’s dependent on expertise to improve its general functions.
Programming strengthens neural pathways between the two hemispheres and it can help kids become divergent thinkers. Kids sharpen their technical skills while writing code, and they also engage their creative sides when designing game stories or thinking about the actual functionality of products for end users.
As we have argued above, code academies do wonders for the mental development of children. Apart from teaching kids to code, these institutions also provide youngsters with necessary skills to excel in life and their future careers.
We at CodaKid invite you to explore our online course offerings and we hope you can find something your kids might be interested in. You can even try courses for free! CodaKid’s online courses are quite unique in that they feature self-paced tutorials that are supported by a real team of teachers who interact with the students through messaging and screenshare.
Do you have any experiences with code academies that you’d like to share. Please leave us comments below.