Children love learning new things. They can get easily excited by arts, sports and various trades. All they need to develop a passion for any of these is a good tutor to show them the basics of the skill. However, the sole act of teaching can’t work very well, as kids also need to be enticed to discover more and to find various ways of broadening their knowledge on specific topics.
Methods of How to Teach Coding Basics to Kids
Keeping interest alive is one of the major challenges of teaching coding basics to kids. They would listen to you and try out the concepts and techniques you show them, but only up to a point. You need to make them wish to know more, so that they can code more complex apps by themselves. There are several tricks you can use, but you have to observe the kids closely, as not all of them may have the same reaction to your tricks.
One of the best methods to awaken their interest is to have them program apps they would love to use themselves. Show them the coding secrets of a tower defense game or of a mobile app that can enable you discover where your friends are at any given time. If they want to use the app, they are going to do their best to learn how to code it. If you teach them how to code an app that’s boring, they might not even want to listen to you at all. On the contrary, if they can write code that helps them in their day to day life, they are going to be excited to learn the secrets of this trade. In addition, they should see their code implements in the final products which they should be able to distribute to their friends and family. Recognition is very important at this stage in life, so they should get the praise they deserve for their hard work. There are teachers who close agreements with big software companies to allow the kids volunteer for a limited period of time or contribute to certain projects. If they feel they are useful, children are always happy to do more, as they genuinely like to help others.
The other big challenge of teaching coding to very young students is their ability of keeping pace with the stuff you show them. If their tasks are more than they can handle, children are going to give up too soon. Your role as a teacher is to find the right difficulty level, so that your students maintain their desire to learn, without finding your course dull. These being said, you also need to be aware that you shouldn’t design exercises that are too easy to solve. If the kids aren’t stimulated to think, they are going to get bored and quit learning. Finding the middle way is very difficult, hence the very small number of teachers who manage to prepare the young programmers for the future and make them wish to pursue a career in IT.
All these challenges revolve around the fact that most children have a very short attention span. Making them focus on the same topic for more than a few minutes is almost impossible. This is why coding classes for kids should be especially designed to cater to this need most children have. Unfortunately, this is not always possible, as coding implies sitting and staring at a few lines of code for many minutes or even hours in a row, especially when it comes to debugging a sequence that doesn’t work properly. Chasing errors and correcting them may be too much for children, so perhaps these concepts should be added to their curriculum later on, after they’ve got already the passion for coding.
In conclusion, it’s worth mentioning here that coding isn’t a mass skill. Most kids are inevitably going to get bored with such classes and quit before being able to produce outstanding results. Nonetheless, a talented teacher can determine the best of them to continue their studies and to choose programming as their career. The IT industry is in fast expansion, so these kids are probably going to be able to find excellent career opportunities based on their coding skills.