Kids who understand the code are at the highest level of literacy in the 21st century

Neetu Dhiman, Vega Schools

As the world is becoming more digital, the need for programming is progressively growing. Programming is slowly becoming an integral skill that people need to learn if they want to be a part of digital creation.  Programming is the new computer literacy.

In my previous blog  "Why coding is important for young minds?", I shared my views on the importance of coding and ended the blog with a question “Which programming language should a beginner choose?”. There are so many programming languages and the hard-hitting question is what programming language to learn? Being a new discipline, many schools in Gurgaon are as confused as educators. Let us simplify and ‘decode’ this challenge.

Kids consume so much technology every day without any assistance, hence any engaging coding platform can be familiar to them. However, at the same time, coding is a strange world. Strange because this may be the first time they are being asked to be productive in a new way. As stated by Mario Armstrong it is all about “a journey from consumer to creator” and the selection of the perfect coding language can make this journey easy. The best schools in Gurgaon are working hard to evaluate different options. 

How to select the best coding platform/language for the child?

It’s really tough to decide. While choosing the coding/computer language for the child, we should take into consideration the child’s current interests, as this will often dictate the choice of language used. Children love to play games or watch animation movies. So, it is always advisable to start with a platform that can fulfill the demands of young minds and develop their interest in coding.

As I mentioned in my previous blog, block-based coding is best to start with for elementary-level children. Choose a platform where a child can program their own games, animations & stories. Block-based coding platforms, such as, Scratch or Scratch Jr, Blockly, Tynker, etc. are graphics-based platforms and kids find these interfaces very attractive & engaging.

Why block-based coding and not a programming language for the child at the elementary level? 

Children learn better through visual stimuli with graphical tools such as Scratch. Block coding requires little or no coding experience, it only needs to drag, drop & rearrange the blocks in the correct order and this makes programming more adaptable for children. The shape and colors of the blocks help the child to complete the sequence with certain computing concepts. Block coding is fun because a child can immediately demonstrate the program in real time. Click here to see how a Top School in Gurgaon integrates ICT in PBL (problem-based learning) so that children enjoy block-coding and create their own animations, storylines, etc.

With so many different programming languages available, where should the child start?

Text-based coding for kids can be hard to navigate — especially when it comes to choosing the first coding language. Compared to block-based coding, text-based languages require a better understanding of logical thinking and high-level arithmetic concepts. In middle school (from grades 6 to 8), children are mostly ready to start with a text-based coding language. Python, JavaScript, Java, and Ruby are all examples of text-based coding languages.

After getting into the basic concepts of text-based coding, the child doesn’t have to exclusively stick to one coding language either. The fundamentals of one coding language overlap with another, and once your child has mastered the basics, they’ll find it quicker and easier to progress with another language.

My recommendation for middle and senior-level graders is Python as it is one of the most widely used high-level programming languages. It is simple to understand, open source, and free to use. To set up Python, all you need to do is download Python from the  Python Official website.

Some of the Top Gurgaon schools have successfully introduced coding in the curriculum. At Vega Schools, middle and high school learners are introduced to Python coding. Reasons for choosing Python over the other languages are listed here:

Python is closer to human syntax which makes for an easier learning curve for beginners compared to other programming languages. To output, something to the screen is as easy as writing a welcome note to your friend. For instance, print(“Hi!, How are you?”)

Companies including Google and Facebook use Python to create most of our favorite social media platforms, as do Instagram, YouTube, and Spotify.

Python is widely used in Artificial Intelligence, Deep Learning, and Data Science based applications.

Python has become the go-to programming language for formal education in computer science in colleges.

Python is the fastest-growing programming language.

Most demanding and complex areas such as cybersecurity, etc. are also using Python.

How does a parent who doesn’t have a programming background know the progress of the child?

At Vega Schools, ICT specialists remain willing to put in their utmost efforts to sustain children's interest and engagement in coding. Learning coding in the classroom revolves around extensive practice. Step-by-step picture tutorials for all the apps and games that children design in each grade, are available for the parents on Google Classroom. Moreover, it is easy to test an app and see the progress of the child. All the apps are saved on the cloud, and parents can log in into the child’s account on their mobile phones and run the app/game developed by their child.

Dan Costolo, the CEO of Twitter said: “If you can program a computer, you can achieve your dreams. A computer doesn’t care about your family background, or your gender, just that you know how to code. But we’re only teaching it in a small handful of schools, why?”

Today, we are proud to say that Vega offers coding within the ICT curriculum. Vega young learners construct their learning to master the new literacy and we are transforming learners from passive consumers into innovative creators.

The time has come for all top Gurgaon Schools including the Best CBSE schools in Gurgaon to start introducing coding to their young learners. 

Click on the given image links to see the apps and games of Vega learners published on the MIT App Inventor gallery.

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