At What Age Should Kids Start Coding?
Coding skills are in high demand, and this will intensify as technology becomes more advanced. It’s obvious that kids need to develop coding skills for future careers, but there’s some debate about how early they should begin to develop these skills.
This is a difficult question for parents, particularly those with limited knowledge about coding. No one wants their child to fall behind, but it’s also not helpful to impose learning on kids before they’re ready.
Here we discuss the importance of coding and the best time for kids to learn about it.
What is Coding?
Coding refers to the language of computers. This language is used to write applications and software, design websites and build robots. Programmers write instructions through code to tell computer systems what to do. It is often compared to a foreign language.
Just as students must learn about the structure and syntax of a foreign language before they can communicate, children need a good understanding of the basic concepts of coding to set them up for future success.
Very young children can learn about coding principles through simple activities like going on a treasure hunt, finding their way through a maze, using building blocks and playing with Lego.
While these activities are not explicitly about coding, they give children the skills needed to become proficient in this area. These skills include problem solving, following a sequence of steps and building something new.
When is the Best Time to Learn Coding?
According to the NSW Department of Education, children should begin to learn about coding fundamentals in primary school so they are prepared to explicitly learn a coding language in Year 7 and 8.
In 2018, a new primary school syllabus was developed which introduced coding concepts from kindergarten to Year 2 by requiring students to learn how data is represented as pictures and symbols, and to follow and describe a sequence of steps. Students are also required to use a coding program for kids.
From Year 3 to Year 6 students build on these skills by learning more about data and codes and by considering how digital systems work together. They are required to develop a storyboard for a computer game as part of the curriculum which can be created through a visual programming language.
Finally in Year 7 and 8, students learn a compulsory non-visual coding language. According to Mark Tyler, from the NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA), visual or block coding is “fine in primary, but in secondary, by the end of the stage they have to learn coding in a general purpose language.” The rationale is that by early high school all students in NSW should be developing sophisticated coding skills.
How Can a Tutor Help With Coding?
While the NSW curriculum is based on sound research, many parents are concerned that their child is not learning enough about coding at school. Some kids already have advanced skills before they reach high school and need more challenges, while others struggle to grasp the basics.
A one-size-fits-all approach cannot meet the needs of all students. Fortunately, there are many things parents can do to help kids master coding and further develop their skills, including buying toys designed to teach programming, completing coding projects together at home and enrolling kids in coding camps.
A tutor can also assist by helping students develop the strong foundational skills required to become competent coders. At Tutor Doctor we develop an individualised program based on each student’s unique needs. Tutoring develops critical thinking, problem solving and STEM skills, giving students the opportunity to excel in coding.
Contact us for a free consultation today.