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Why should our kids learn to code?

Coding Kid

I am biased. I love to code. I love teaching people to code. I have been coding for 26 years and teaching it for 16 years. I see the benefits to both myself and those I teach (including my own kids). So why should we learn to code?

Let’s start with answering, what is coding? Coding, also known as computer programming, is the means through which we give computers instructions. We write down all the actions we want the computer to do for us (draw a picture, add some numbers, play a sound, etc) and save these instructions in a file called a program. We then ask the computer to execute these instructions and, all going well, it will do what we asked it to do. Microsoft Word is an example of a computer program, so too are computer games, mobile phone apps and websites. In fact there are computer programs all over the place because there are computers all over the place. Today there are computers in our TVs, cars, washing machines, cookers … you name it, the chances are it has a computer. Where there are computers, there are computer programs.

So why should we teach our kids how to write these computer programs? For me it’s all about problem solving. Coding is about solving problems, logically. Much of what we, and our kids, have to do in our daily lives is centered around problem solving – whether you are a doctor, engineer, teacher or lawyer, you need to be able to solve problems in order to progress. Coding teaches you how to look at a problem logically, break it up into small parts and explore various solutions. On top of all that, it’s fun. Really. Now as a ‘grown up’ you may find it difficult to see the fun in coding but for kids it’s obvious.

Do you like making things? Building, designing, creating? If so, you are likely to love coding. By and large kids love to make stuff and they love the sense of accomplishment they get from building something with their own hands. They get this very same sense of accomplishment from coding.

I started up a CoderDojo 4 years ago where I teach kids how to code. I am always amazed how excited they are to actually get the computer to do something they want it to do. They become creators and not just consumers.

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