Let’s be honest, Computer Science is one of the most in demand professions nowadays. So much so that by 2020, it is estimated that 1 million job will go unfilled. For students entering college and the workforce in the next decade, it’s clearly a big advantage to choose this as a course of study and as a career. And while the benefits of introducing children to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) subjects has been established, it now follows to ask: Besides closing the skills gap and improving career prospects, are there other advantages to teaching coding at an early age?
A better understanding of the world around them
Coding is a good skill to understand and interact with the modern world. More and more aspects of daily life involve computers in one form or another, from smartphones, laptops, e-books, social media networks, video games, etc. Basic programming knowledge can open our eyes to the infinite possibilities of coding and change the way we use this technology.
Tech is growing so fast that in several countries, incuding Estonia, Finland, Italy and Singapore, for example coding is already a compulsory part of the primary school curriculum.
The UK, the first G7 country to introduce compulsory computer science on the school curriculum for all children aged five to 16. By age 7, all children are expected to create and debug simple programs. They’ve replaced the ICT (Information and Communication Technology), which focused on computer literacy with computer science–word processing or using a spreadsheet–with information technology, and digital literacy–not just how to work a computer, but how a computer works and how to make it work for you.
Many experts agree that it is better to start coding at a really young age. Younger students tend to be less put off by STEM subjects—coding is a type of language that young minds are particularly suited to learn. Until recently, however, an age limit had been effectively imposed by the skills, reading and writing among them, required by the most common programming languages (Python, Java, C++) according to The Economist
The intention of teaching coding in school does not intend to turn every child into a developer however, but to give her an understanding of the digital world in which she lives.
Kids are the best learners
Coding is difficult and it requires mathematical skills and an abstract understanding of concepts that are quite complicated. But for children learning to program is easier because their minds are more flexible and open.
Programming requires a complex, logic-based way of thinking. But it also requires creativity.
Learning to code calls for mastery of a problem-solving skill known as computational thinking: breaking down tasks into a logical sequence of smaller steps, discarding unnecessary elements, diagnosing errors, and inventing new approaches when the first inevitably fails.
Coding provides techniques to attack a problem and creates logical connections which help kids to learn how to properly analyses different situations and problems.
This skill provides kids with the tools to create a world of limitless possibilities, one where they can build their own paths and solutions in their own way, writes Gaby Hinsliff in The Guardian.
Speak one of the world’s most widely used languages
Almost every kind of job that will be developed in the future will require minimum knowledge of programming. Just like Chinese, Spanish, and English , coding is an indispensable language to communicate with the world around you.
It gives you the possibility to understand more the people around you because world is every day more tech and more virtual.
The wonders of storytelling through code
Because of the nature of programming languages, coding teaches kids how to think sequentially and develop fluidity in their thinking.
Some educational programming kits designed for kids use games and storylines which requires them to follow a story line or sequence as they play and code. Moreover, they experiment and create their own.
One of the most popular is Scratch, a programming language based around storytelling and creativity. Some kits are more focused on particular devices, such as robotics, drones, Arduino platforms, IoT, which allow children to follow instructions to create a series of actions, or even to create their own.
Nowadays there are educational tech companies that have included programming as a children’s learning tool. Roboterra is an example of that. We had the opportunity to chat with the CEO of this incredible company about their philosophy, teaching coding to kids using robotics, the gender gap in the programming profession, and their upcoming projects. You can watch to the interview with Yao Zhang, CEO of Roboterra here: