Let’s assume that you want to teach your kid about coding, or perhaps your kid has an interest in coding and you want them to do well. Here are just a few things to consider if these scenarios apply to you and/or your kids.
Is my kid a hacker?
Yes, your kid can get into some nasty stuff if they start coding, but the same is true if your kid starts skateboarding, tries to be a Facebook celebrity, or ever goes near Twitter in the hours outside of school. The idea of being a hacker is usually only attractive to kids until they realize how much work it takes. The biggest threat for your child is that they are going to view some pretty sketchy websites that are going to hack or damage their phone or computer.
Setting your kid on the right path is important, but it shouldn’t be done with any sort of authority. If you start advising your kid against hacking websites or the dark web, then that is the first thing your kid is going to try. Instead, get involved (albeit not too much) and see if you can present your kid with some problems to solve.
Perhaps you want an auto-shooter for an indie game or something that will add up the total of your shopping list, or something that your kid can get his or her teeth into. Try coming up with a problem and then leading your kid onto the solution through a website. For example, if a website teaches kids how to build online price checkers, then say you are looking for that and then suggest the website you found.
Teaching tips from the start
If you are the one introducing your child to coding, it is very important that you take it easy. Programming is not for everybody, and if your child feels forced to work on a project, then they will start to really hate anything coding-related. Putting too much pressure on them can do more harm than good.
Instead, try introducing the youngster to some tutorial websites, perhaps a few that teach your kid what coding is all about, and see if your child takes to the idea. If they seem reluctant, then leave it alone and forget about it, at least for now.
It could be that your little one doesn’t show any interest in coding or another area of STEM until they are older. Your youngster might want more a more active pastime and enjoy sedate pastimes like coding offers them when they are teenagers.
Your kids career might not be in coding
Perhaps you want to teach your child programming so they have a great futuristic coding career. But be aware that might not happen. It could be that they want to code as a pastime or hobby rather than as a full-time job. Just like people who know a second language don’t always use it in their career.
Life has an odd way of throwing things at you where your previous experience helps out a lot. For example, your kid might end up being a freelance writer for a living and is able to write articles about coding (the subject and the lifestyle) because of their experience as a teenager.
Coding for kids: Practice and games
If you are teaching your child how to code, then getting your kid to play an hour of code games every three days is a good way of keeping the subject fresh and helping your child grow as a coder. Now, perhaps your child is self-taught and is currently knee-deep in Roblox development. If that is the case, simply suggest the games and perhaps show them by playing them.
Maybe promote it as an activity you could both do together. It might not take, but your kid may like to show off their skills to a parental figure, and coding games offer a way to do that.
A note about types of intelligence
Do not allow the modern education system to pigeonhole your belief in intelligence. Human minds work differently and they develop differently. That is why and how some people have a stronger aptitude for things than others. That is why champion soccer players can curve a ball into a net on a spinning curve from outside the penalty box without looking at the goal but can’t figure out which direction their hotel room card is supposed to scan.
Mozart was composing music from the age of five and had an aptitude for music. On the other hand, Beethoven was nearly in his forties before his talent really landed; he certainly wasn’t a child prodigy. Your kid might have issues with math, logic puzzles, or memory puzzles, and so may struggle at first, but it is just like driving in that the more you do it, the better you get.
Plus, there is a level of freedom in programming that kids may not experience outside of music and art classes. So, even if your kid doesn’t pick up coding quickly, you should still encourage them because it could be good for them.
3 thoughts on “Coding for kids: A guide for parents”
HI Christy, an interesting article. Both my sons love coding and neither are hackers although I am sure Greg could if he wanted to but he is far to moral and ethical to even consider it (he has always been like that). I, on the other hand, think coding is the most boring thing known to mankind. When I was in high school I was selected to go on a coding programme with a few other teens. I gave it up because I hated it and I took extra art instead.
It will be interesting to see if your sons continue their coding hobby into adulthood, Robbie. Well, at least you found out that you’d rather do art! You are creative through and through xx
Thank you, Christy. My job is the most creative thing I could do as an accountant.