By Neetu Dhiman
“Whether you want to uncover the secrets of the universe, or you just want to pursue a career in the 21st century, basic computer programming is an essential skill to learn.” – Stephen Hawking
The age-old question arises: is it really important for kids to learn to code? After all, aren’t kids too young to be learning the complexity of computer programming and coding?
The Ministry of Education has introduced the New Education Policy (NEP) in the year 2020. To comply with the modern demands, the new education policy aims to introduce coding classes as vocational skills in the middle schools. As a result, the best schools in Gurgaon are introducing coding to students.
Here are some common questions parents ask about Coding for their kids:
1. What is coding?
Coding is the process of writing instructions that tell a computer what to do. Computer programmers write instructions using a specific computer language and these instructions allow computers to run complex programs.
2. How to spark my child’s interest in coding?
Most kids like to create things, so coding will come as naturally as painting a picture or building something with Legos. Capture the child’s interest and align it with coding. Animations are liked by all age group children so ask them to code fun filled animations such as – Birthday Party, Hide & Seek, Marine Life, Ghost in Castle etc. Keep it fun and don’t force it.
3. Why should I encourage my kids to learn to code even if they do not want to
pursue a career in the computer science / IT industry?
I would like to mention some practical reasons and benefits of coding beyond computers explaining why coding should be an integral part of the curriculum in schools and how it benefits?
Coding Fosters Kids’ Creativity Skills
Creative thinking begins with a questioning mindset. Through coding, we enable our ingenious and curious kids to be creative thinkers. Coding allows kids to create new and unique applications. This can be a game, an animation or an android app. It gives them an opportunity to experiment with their ideas and convert it into actual programs that can be applied in real life. When children learn to code, they get a chance to create something they love in a new and exciting way. As a result, coding-related activities encourage children to employ unconventional and out-of-the-box thinking. Top Gurgaon schools aspire to stoke creativity and trigger the imagination in their young learners.
Problem-Solving & Computational Thinking
Writing code or dragging code blocks is a hands-on process that involves making mistakes, running and correcting the code. Coding is about developing computational thinking skills. Computational thinking encourages kids to tackle large problems by breaking them down into a sequence of smaller problems. This helps children to measure the progress of their projects and adjust the code accordingly. They learn to analyse to get a solution. These problem-solving skills are a great benefit in their day to day lives and can help them to solve real-life situations.
In addition to critical thinking and problem-solving, coding kids will be equipped with a skillset that will assist them down the academic road. My 13-year-old son codes using Minecraft and MIT App inventor because he enjoys these platforms. While playing Minecraft, without realizing it, he develops complex shapes, tackles geometric problems, and manipulates blocks. All of these are key mathematical concepts.
Creating Minecraft World based on history and Science topics such as ‘Nazism and the rise of Hitler’ and ‘Renewable sources of Energy’ are some of his favourite tasks which involve a huge amount of research in history and knowledge of science concepts. This includes understanding the major points in human civilisation, mapping locations and recreating famous events in a fun way.
While coding, with use of MIT App Inventor, he applies math, conditional logic, procedure, and variable blocks, and develops apps. Most of all, he solves problems patiently and boldly applies trial-and-error experimentation required to get the solution. While coding, children won’t realize the skills they are gaining. Isn’t that amazing!
Coding requires solving real problems, which is superior to filling a worksheet full of math or science questions. Kids gain real experience, which in turn, helps them to excel in academics. I am sharing the videos of a few of Vega Schools’ middle school learners (session 2021-22) who implemented coding and took their learning to a next level. As a top school in Gurgaon, we encouraged our learners to integrate coding within their projects.
Harmehar, an eighth grade learner, very effectively used MIT App Inventor and created a CHATBOT for his PBL project. His class was working on the project Save the Tiger’. Instead of using slides and posters to state what they knew, learners created a CHATBOT to answer some commonly asked questions based on their project.
Asreet, a seventh grade learner, very effectively used MIT App Inventor and created a Water Calculator App for his PBL project. His class was working on the project ‘Water Scarcity’. Apart from their presentations, learners created this app to give people a check on water consumption in their daily routine.
While designing and coding an app on any platform, children have to keep going when they come across an obstacle, and coding helps them do this. By experimenting, children learn through their mistakes, coding teaches kids how to solve problems and look for solutions from a young age.
4. What is the appropriate age for a child to learn to code?
The elementary years are the best age for a child to be introduced to coding. If kids are taught to think logically and computationally at a young age, they will be able to learn programming more easily in adulthood. When a child learns to code, it’s typically done through a game, an animation or a puzzle. This makes the process fun and engaging while the child is still learning a new skill. We can take the child’s passion for computer games and turn that into a fun learning environment.
Hopefully, this post could answer some of your questions. As parents, teachers and students, one thing to keep in mind is not to see coding as a course for computer education but as a form of life skill. Whether the child chooses to become a doctor or a writer, the skills the child will learn in the coding class are always going to be by the side, assisting them in a better way of thinking, and a better career.
Many schools in Gurgaon are finally beginning to introduce coding to learners. This needs to be accelerated, especially since coding is a necessary 21st century skill. After all, a school cannot be the best CBSE school in Gurgaon without teaching coding skills to its learners.
Did I miss out on ‘The selection of programming languages for your kids’?
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