We all know that learning a skill is much better when you’re younger! Because kid’s brains are literally like sponges, they still have the highest brain plasticity, and learning new things is easiest when you’re young, and it’ll really shape you for the rest of your life, and can influence your thinking long term.
And, in a world of quantum computers and artificial intelligence, you don’t want your child to fall behind. There’s a real risk right now that the skills they learn or the career they decide to pursue, is obsolete by the time they’re out of college.
Many parents are ahead of the curve, and they see the benefits and the potential of teaching kids coding, especially at an early age, to ensure that their child doesn’t fall behind, and is set up for success instead.
But at what age should kids be learning to code? Is your child ready for it yet? And what should you do to, if they’re not the right age yet, but you still want them to be prepared for a tech-enabled world?
Watch this video to determine if your child is ready to learn coding yet, of if there is something else you should do, to support their development.
I will tell you what the biggest hurdle for any child is to learn coding, so you can see how you can help your child overcome this hurdle early on. And in this video I will also give you ideas for 5 activities that your kids can do, if they’re still a bit too young for actual coding, but that will accelerate their learning and help them get ready.
Hi, my name is Oliver I’m a technology expert and education specialist. I help parents unlock their kid’s full potential, and turn kids into successful expert coders, by teaching them the skillset of software developers and the mindset of tech entrepreneurs.
Today I’ll let’s talk about a question that I get a lot, and that’s “at what age should kids start learning to code”
And just to be clear I’m referring to real coding here, the same kind of coding that professionals at big tech companies use. We’ll talk about what’s a good age to start with that, and what educational games or activities are appropriate at other ages.
See, to answer that question about “What age”, you have to understand is, that coding is a not one single skill, but it’s many skills put together, that make someone an expert coder.
If you’re watching this, you already know how coding teaches problem solving, abstract and analytical thinking, creativity and design, Math and logic, engineering, and even some business related skills. In fact, there’s a ton of skills that can be derived from coding.
But you don’t want to frustrate a child who’s too young for these complex, advanced subjects. You don’t want to scare them with it, so that they forever adopt a mindset of “I’m just not a computer person” or “coding is way too hard for me”.
Kid’s brains are still very impressionable, and while that’s great for learning, it can also backfire and really push them away from something, that they might otherwise enjoy – perhaps even set them up for success their entire life.
So over the last 5 years as a coding teacher I have generally said that I teach kids between 9 and 12 how to code. And, that’s mainly because that’s the sweet spot. Most of my students are 10 or 11, and what I teach them, and how I teach them is just right in terms of where they are at with their development and their interest.
A lot of the kids I work with, they’ve already dabbled in some educational games, they tried the hour of code, maybe they even did some camps that showed them how to modify one of their favorite games. But then many kids wonder, so how do you start from nothing? What if you wanna create your own video game from the ground up? Or an actual app or a website? Not just educational games that limit you creatively, but the real deal? Typing away on a black screen like a hacker, creating something that doesn’t exist yet?
So it’s usually right around the age between 9 and 12 that kids not only have an interest for that, but also that they have the analytical and logical capabilities, to figure out and understand what is going on.
Like I said, coding is a compounded skill, many skills put together make you a great coder. And instead of thinking that kids have to learn coding in order to acquire these skills, think of it the other way around – some of these skills have to be acquired first, before you can dive into coding.
And one of them is reading and writing.
So if your child is at an age where they’re not super fluent with reading things yet, I would not recommend that you set them up with coding yet, because that’s all that coding is. Reading and writing.
So, strengthen that skill first! Try to find activities that involve reading and writing, that are revolving around the interest of your child. For example robots and science fiction. And I’m sure there’s a ton of apps, too, that help with this, where kids can build words with letters.
The next skill required is Math. All the basic algebra things like addition, subtraction, multiplication and division need to be understood. Also decimal numbers and fractions are helpful to know. If kids have done some number theory before, it also helps prepare their brain, for the abstract kind of thinking we use in code. And, very important, geometry and coordinate systems.
In fact, making your own video game is basically applied geometry. We use x and y coordinates, we measure lengths and distances, and at some point we also have to look at angles, and figure out pi, sin and cosine, and so on.
Here is where learning to code feeds into learning these Math concepts, because finally a topic that seems dry, boring and totally unrelated to every day life, has an actual application. Video games are nothing but Math.
This is totally where the rubber hits the pavement, and there are many activities that your kids can do, even ones that don’t require screens, that will keep them entertained and and trains their brains at the same time. Check out my other video for many ideas.
So if your child is good at reading and writing, they have decent Math skills, and their pattern recognition has been strengthened from all the hands on activities, than they’re pretty much ready to dive into writing their first lines of real code – and for most kids that’s going to be between 7 and 9.
But there’s still one final hurdle they need to overcome:
The finemotor skills required to operate a mouse with precision, click, and of course typing.
Coding is an activity that is all about the mind, and ideas, and logic, and whatever cool tricks your brain can do, but right now the best interface we have to put those ideas into a computer are mouse and keyboard.
I don’t see us having any viable alternative with voice input, touch screens or motion gestures any time soon. Your child might be the generation that eventually builds those, but as of right now mouse and keyboard is where it’s at.
And for many kids this is the biggest hurdle. If it takes you 2 seconds or more to find a letter on the keyboard, coding will be 100x more frustrating. It’d be like you’re trying to go running – a challenging activity by itself, right? But now also you have shoes made of led. That stick to the ground.
So overall, this is the biggest hurdle for kids to start with coding, which is why MIT came up with scratch.
Scratch lets you make actual programs, using all the same commands we have in coding, but you don’t have to type, it’s all drag and drop.
And how can your child improve their typing skill?
Instant messaging and chatting, online. Maybe you can set them up with a chat app that they use on a laptop, and you use on your phone, and you guys can exchange messages back and forth. Of course they can chat with friends, too.
And there’s lot of typing courses out there as well, that you can try.
And I got one more for you: Let them use paint to draw pictures. That trains their fine motor skills for using the mouse, and it’s something we’ll need to use to create graphics for our first video games, as well.
So now you understand why teaching kids younger than 8 how to code won’t make much sense, you know how you can help them improve and solidify the skills required to get into coding.
There isn’t really an upper age limit for learning to code, I’m sure teenagers and young adults would also enjoy my lessons and learn from them, but you know… who wants to deal with teenagers?
Just kidding of course, but really middle schoolers and pre-teens are really at the prime age for learning to code.
If you have a child at that age, you can try my free course that teaches kids how to write their first lines of real code, and it motivates and rewards them to keep going so that they can end up making their own video games, apps, and websites.
Check it out for free at cc4k.co today
Or watch some of my other videos that tell you what screenless activities you can do with your kids, that will make them better at coding.
Thanks for watching, and I’ll talk to you soon.