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Why kids should learn coding (and how to get them started)

Lelia Ingram
Lelia Ingram - June 22, 2018

Our kids are digital natives, growing up in an ever-changing digital age. As parents we want to ensure they are best placed to get the most from this exciting digital world.

Studies suggest 65% of children entering primary/elementary school today will ultimately end up working in completely new job types that don’t yet exist. That’s a scary thought – so how can we prepare for the unknown? Well, we can only work with what we do know.

Technology will play an even greater role in future jobs

We need to educate our kids to be more than just consumers of technology; it’s vital that they understand and innovate with the technology around them and develop as computational thinkers.

What is computational thinking?

Computational thinking is a way to tackle and solve problems through using a logical and analytical approach. It is essentially going through a problem-solving process by breaking down a problem into manageable chunks, looking for patterns, being able to filter for details that are relevant and those that aren’t, and developing a clear step by step plan (an algorithm). This kind of thinking will help children succeed in an increasingly digital world.

Where does coding come into it?

Coding is an important part of computational thinking and is a fun way to develop these fundamental skills. When you code you are basically telling a computer how to perform tasks by using a specific language that it understands. Examples of coding are all around us, just think of the smart technology we use at home almost daily e.g. voice assistants, streaming devices . These things don’t work by magic, they have been programmed; I think it’s important to get children thinking about the ‘how’s’ of technology rather than just consuming it from an early age. Teaching kids to code does this.

Why kids should learn to code?

Coding is one of the fastest growing occupations in the world but there other great reasons why learning to code is a good thing..

  • Critical thinking and problem solving are at the heart of coding
  • Coding develops creative thinking
  • Encourages risk-taking through a trial and error approach
  • Builds resilience through learning to manage frustration and finding a solution
  • Promotes collaboration with others

When should kids start learning coding?

Dame Stephanie Shirley, Britain’s most eminent computing pioneer, suggests that children as young as two should be introduced to coding. Shirley explains that at this age children are the most receptive to learning and are not yet biased by gender stereotypes. So you see, really kids are never too young to be exposed to this kind of learning so long as it’s at the right level for them. At such a young age you can introduce children to simple algorithms such as; getting dressed, making a sandwich, performing a dance etc. It’s all about helping them understand that they need to follow a sequence of steps to solve a problem in a fun way.

How Hopster is helping kids learn to code

Inspired by Dame Shirley we have created Hopster Coding Safari, a pre-coding game that introduces children to the fundamentals of computational thinking – including decomposition, pattern recognition, abstraction and algorithms.

Hopster Coding Safari puts play at the heart of learning to code and helps kids develop a passion for puzzles and problem-solving. They will develop pre-coding skills gradually, first through building paths, then using arrows and later using commands and simple loops. Kids will love discovering the continents around the world and the animals that live there; they can collect animal stickers as they go along and save them in a virtual sticker book.