Computer Programming for Kids: Teaching Tips

Instructor: Sharon Linde
You don't have to have ambitions to be the next Steve Jobs learn computer programming. In fact, it's so simple, even kids can learn. Read on for some tips on teaching kids to program.

What Is Computer Programming?

Computer programming is a sought after skill in today's job market. Many of today's secondary schools now recognize programming as a useful and necessary skill that should be taught prior to graduation. Parents and students are also getting caught up in the programming frenzy. Enrollment in programming classes and camps is the rise.

Computer programming is the process of writing a series of steps or commands to make a computer work in a specific way. Think of it like writing out a recipe. Without a recipe that explains what to do and when to do it, a cook wouldn't know when to chop or stir or heat the ingredients. Computers are just like cooks; you must specify what you want the computer to do and explain how it should be done to get the desired result.

When to Start Teaching Computer Programming

Many people think that computer programming is complicated, but it really isn't. Even young children can learn computer programming. Parents and teachers often ask when they can begin teaching children to program. The answer is - today!

Most kids are comfortable and confident around technology. To them, it's a natural part of their world. They're also quick learners and tend to try new things eagerly. Although there's certainly no rule of thumb concerning a good age to begin teaching computer programming to kids, a good rule of thumb is to consider reading readiness. Kids need a basic understanding of reading to be successful programmers. They also need to be able to follow a multi-step command.

Teaching Computer Programming

Teaching kids to program doesn't have to be a complicated process. Parent and teachers can use tools like apps to introduce students to computer programming. If a child is motivated to learn to program, their enthusiasm will guide the way. The following tips can also help:

  • Start with a game program. Children love games of any kind. To teach basic programming skills, look for apps that build games or apps that are set up in a game-like format. This will keep the child engaged and make the learning fun.
  • For less experienced children, begin with a partial project and let them fill in details, like adding a new step or level. This gives them the experience of programming and lets them feel like they've accomplished something without the frustration of missing an important step.
  • For those who learn quickly or have some previous experience, keep them interested by letting them add challenges into the game, such as different scoring or life options for game characters.

Keeping Kids Motivated

Parents and teachers know the best way to teach a child is to make learning interesting. Teaching computer programming is no exception. How can we keep kids motivated to learn programming? Start with these tips:

Approach

We all know that sometimes it's the delivery that makes the difference. A teacher can say 'We're going to spend an hour learning fractions' or 'Let's play some games with numbers.' Which would be more inviting? Use the same approach with kids and computer programming. Don't come at them with language that sounds boring or difficult. Instead, say 'Want to play a game?' or 'Let's build something.' That sounds like fun!

Let Them Fail

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