If you’re following this blog (or the news!), you probably know that there’s a big push toward teaching kids how to code. Besides being a fun new challenge, introducing kids to coding is something you can do now to help ensure their success later – at least a basic understanding of programming will be a must-have for tomorrow’s employers. Plus, learning to code hones logic and problem solving skills, develops creativity, helps them make better use of their technology, and more. That’s why this mom has resolved to start her kiddo down the path to coding this year – and here’s how!
1. Take Another Look at Laundry!
Yes, laundry! Sorting and ordering is a key piece of coding. Dump your dirties on the floor and ask your kiddo to help you sort the lights, darks, and mediums. Or find all the socks. You know, do what their parents do practically every day? Then, when the laundry’s clean, have your little one help you sort the socks into matching piles. Simple! And possibly helpful 😊.
2. Speak Another Language…
No, we’re not starting Mandarin lessons just yet, but learning and practicing the language of “If, Then” is a great way to get your child thinking like a coder. And it’s fun! If, Then works kind of like Simon Says. Using your own silly words and actions, try to get your kids to understand the basic logic of command and execution. If I say “bleep”, then you jump once. If I say “bleep, bleep” then you jump twice. If I say “bloop”, then you spin around. Then give them a series of “bleeps” and “bloops” to follow. Congratulations – you’re coding!
3. What Happens Next?
Who’s up for a game of “Which came first, the chicken or the egg?” Just kidding. Ugh. But understanding logical sequence is an important coding skill. Ask your kids to tell you about their day, in chronological order. Or have them summarize the plot of a book, TV show, or movie, making sure they’re sharing the events in the same order they happened. Thinking in sequential order will help your kids see what happens, first, next, and last.
4. Think Like an Inventor!
This one is fun. Challenge your children – and yourself – to come up with a list of things that are frustrating around the house. Maybe the kitchen trash can is stinky or the kids constantly track dirt or grass through the front door. Then, make a list of all the crazy ways you can think of to solve that problem. For example, my daughter doesn’t like picking up toe nail trimmings, and drew a sketch of a nail clipper with a basket to catch all the cuttings. Out-of-the-box thinking is a critical skill for programmers, whose job it is to create new ways to solve problems.
5. Play Your Way!
There are also some really great apps, computer programs, board games, and even robots like Learning Resources’ Botley The Coding Robot, designed to teach kids to code. Find a format your kids like – a robot for your computer kiddo or an activity set for your tinkerer – and watch them master a skill that’s sure to make a meaningful difference in their futures!