Should Kids Really Learn How To Code?
Published on 01/04/2021
Today, we are sharing the first of two main reasons to learn how to code. In our upcoming blog post, we’ll talk about literacy in our age. Today, we discuss… the brain.
Kids can learn how to code and here are 6 ways coding helps their brains:
1. Coding is a creative act.
Kids see their ideas come to life on screen. They bring the imaginary into the real. Kids connect words, shapes, and images to enact their vision and share it with the world.
In a world where media is given to kids to consume, coding is one way they can flex their creative muscles and make something fun!
2. Kids practice executive functioning when they code.
First, what is executive function?
Harvard’s Center On The Developing Child says that “Executive function and self-regulation skills are like an air traffic control system in the brain—they help us manage information, make decisions, and plan ahead.”
Manage Information: This may go without saying, but kids think about information and the relationship between pieces of information when they code. A coding student learns to consider not only what a phrase may mean, but also how that will impact the whole project.
Make Decisions: Coding a program, a student completes a giant statement of “if, then” as they test the program’s inputs against the outputs. Kids can ask, when I type this, what happens? As those connections between cause and effect grow clearer, coders can predict what will appear as the result of what they type.
Plan ahead: Planning is one of those things that can be tough for anyone. It requires thinking about an unknown time in the future, and visualizing what we need to do now in order to be where we want. A website or the movement of a robotic car represent desired results. What needs to happen step by step to see that result? The only way to arrive there is to write code.
Additionally, kids learn to think abstractly. They see how abstract language has real consequences. We experience this every day but we might not always see it.
Kids can imagine the problem they want to solve, and then use coding skills to solve it. It can be an incredibly empowering experience.
3. Kids improve their problem-solving skills.
Just like every website is the collection of smaller elements of code, every problem can be broken down into smaller, digestible chunks. Coding teaches kids to work logically through a problem – even down to correcting parentheses (see the next point) or setting the right limits for a loop to end. As projects become more complex, they practice solving problems with logic more than emotion. This can serve them especially well in high-emotion situations.
4. Coding offers real-time feedback.
Today, many see the ability to fail and adapt as a key predictor of success in life. With so many of us venturing into uncharted territory, the question is not if an idea will fail. It is when our ideas will be tested by real world conditions and found wanting. For instance, the recipe does not quite work. You plan fewer people than the group that shows up. A certain business proposal is no longer feasible. We have to think on our feet today, and coding teaches us to write, test, and rewrite our solutions. With the right education, kids can practice churning through less helpful ideas in order to get to the useful ones.
5. Coding strengthens the brain through engaging, high-demand cognitive tasks.
Some studies suggest that the challenges developers face when writing code can help the brain stay agile longer into old age. When coding, kids draw on language, logical thinking, resource planning, creative skills, and many academic skills that can help them grow more resilient to aging.
6. Kids can learn to write programs that will shape their lives.
We are living in the realities dreamed behind computer screens. Hundreds of people had a thought and typed it into a program that then shapes the way we live. Your kid could write the program that later on saves your life in a hospital bed, or that gets you safely from point A to point B in a self-driving car. We’re not even kidding! Medical technologies and others advance by the minute, and the kids of today will wield tools we cannot even fathom yet. They will shift the way that things work in the world. Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning are here to stay, and your kids can know how to splash around in those halls of servers and shape the future of our world. If you think we’re exaggerating, let’s remember – what are you reading this through? Likely something a developer wrote into existence.
Whatever the future holds, we believe kids should learn how to code and that coding can help them gain critical cognitive skills and change their world for the better.
Contribute today to fund coding lessons for a child or youth from a disadvantaged background in Lebanon!