3 Ways to Help Your Student Learn Computer Coding

Connections Academy student coding on laptop

The technology sector—businesses that sell goods and services in electronics, software, computers, artificial intelligence, and other industries related to information technology—is soaring and is expected to continue growing for years to come. Learning how to code and program computers at an early age can set your child up for a lifetime of success.  

But there’s more to teaching kids to code than ensuring they’ll land a tech job someday. Teaching kids programming is a great way to help students develop analytical skills, procedural and structural thinking, problem-solving abilities, and persistence. Understanding computer coding can give your child an edge in K–12 school and any career path they choose. 

What is Computer Code?

Computer code tells software, operating systems, websites, apps, video games, and our personal electronic devices what to do. There are several programming languages that coders use depending on the kind of program or application they want to develop. A coder might use HTML, CSS, and JavaScript to create a website. To create a video game, the coder might use Python or Java. The C computer language is used to write programs for database management systems, like MySQL, and for developing desktop applications, like those by Adobe. 

Most computer scientists, app developers, and systems engineers only know a few coding languages necessary in their fields of work. But the core principles of coding are transferable across many different languages and systems. The real benefit from learning how to code is to learn how to think logically. 

Because programming concepts are easy to present in the form of games, you can teach basic coding for kids to children as young as five years old, according to the computer education and careers resource hub computerscience.org. Before they learn to read, children can learn basic coding concepts from block-based puzzles and sequencing. From ages five to seven, young learners can learn by dragging and dropping images. 

Text-based coding activities available for older kids teach real programming languages in fun ways. Some activities lead to a finished product, such as a simple game they can play or animation they can watch. High school students who really take to coding can learn advanced languages like C++ and Java and develop professional quality programs, apps, and websites. 

Coding education in schools has increased significantly in just the last few years. A 2021 study by the nonprofit Code.org found that 51% of public high schools in the U.S. offer foundational computer science and 39 states have adopted four or more policies to make computer science part of the education system. 

There are numerous online coding classes, virtual coding camps, and websites that offer self-paced tutorials that online school students experienced with virtual school should be able to handle with ease.  Are you teaching kids programming in your home school? You can. Here are three ways you can help teach your kids to code.  

Homeschool student learns computer coding skills.

1. Start Teaching Kids to Code with a Learning-Friendly Language

Coding languages that are good for teaching kids to code are easy to read, have broad use, and have a large community to help with problem-solving, according to a guide and list of resources published by Syracuse University’s online master’s in computer engineering. A good coding language for teaching coding basics for kids is also concise (requires fewer lines of code per function) and flexible, meaning there are multiple ways to achieve a specific outcome.

For young children, or others who have little to no familiarity with programming, visual languages, like Scratch and Blockly, are popular tools for learning overall structure, methods, and programmatic thinking rather than specific rules. Instead of text, they use a system of building blocks that are stacked and moved around to create code. Other coding languages popular for teaching kids coding include: 

  • HTML and CSS, the basis of web design and written to mimic the English language. 
  • JavaScript, which adds interactivity to games and websites. It requires many of the same skills as languages like C++, Python, and Java.  
  • Python, which was created to be beginner-friendly. 
  • Java, designed as a simpler version of C++ and considered to be a great introduction to more difficult languages. 

2. Stress Creativity Over Specific Coding Languages for Kids

At the start of teaching kids programming, you’re really teaching them to think critically and methodically to solve problems. You don’t need any particular coding language for that. So, ask what your child wants to get out of learning computer programming, what they want to build. Then together you can choose the right coding language to explore. 

Some languages are easier to learn, but you shouldn’t put a defined curriculum above your child’s interest and excitement.

 “You’re going to pick up different languages if you truly have a passion for coding,” Shauna Garner, former franchisee support coordinator at CodeNinjas, told Syracuse University’s online master’s in computer engineering. “It’s the foundation that’s more important than the language specifically.” 

Connections Academy student works on a STEM project building a small robot which will respond to code.

3. Teach Kids to Code with Others’ Examples

After your child (and you, acting as their Learning Coach) have learned coding basics in a particular language, see what others have done with it. Find a program or code file that has done something impressive, and open it in your code editor, suggests a BitDegree tutorial. Work your way through it, line by line, to make sure you understand how it works.  

Not everything, but a lot of computer coding is “open source,” meaning others are free to see it, use it, and build upon it. For example, every major Internet browser allows users to view any web page’s HTML source code

Open-source platforms like Linux® allow users to access repositories of code to study, use, or customize. You can re-upload and maintain versions of code as you edit it and get feedback from other coders, or get involved in community coding projects on the platform.

Teaching Kids to Code Could Change the World

The creative possibilities available to a young mind that has learned computer programming are as expansive as, well, the world wide web. Thanks to the imaginative people who have worked to shape technology to their vision, we enjoy a life with smartphones, video games, streaming services, voice controls, self-driving cars (someday!), and so much more. That includes online school! 

Every major technological innovation is a result of the creative thinking and persistence behind hundreds of ideas, experiments, and prototypes. It’s just computer coding for kids today, but one day your child could have an idea and the programming capability to change how we live. 

If your kids aren’t interested in coding, there are still computer skills to master by high school. And any family can try a few of our fun STEM activities to help spark a young student’s interest in science. 

Tuition Free

Ready to learn about the tuition-free, accredited, online public school options in your area? Complete the form below to receive your free online school eGuide today.

Send Me Information

 

Related Posts