With the advancements in technology over the years, kids learning how to code is growing rapidly in popularity around the world, as many view computing as a new literacy in tomorrow’s job market. Computers have shaped every major industry, including such varied ones as agriculture, health care, and transportation. This transformation has created a growing demand for computer programmers who can write the code needed to advance these industries. Additionally, the ability to code has also become an important skill because people increasingly rely on computers to help with many aspects of life. Our smartphones, televisions, thermostats, modern cars, and many other common devices depend on code to run properly.
We are going to look at the benefits of kids learning to code. But first, what exactly is coding? Coding is the process of creating instructions that a computer can carry out. Such instructions are generally written using computer languages or programming languages. Just as there are many human languages that people use to communicate with one another, there are many programming languages that people can use to communicate with computers. Instructions written in a programming language are called code. Coding makes it possible for us to create such things as computer software, websites, and apps. Coding can also be used to control robots, drones, and internet-enabled devices. Some people write code to produce artwork. Others do it to automate boring, repetitive tasks. People sometimes learn to code simply for the challenge of mastering a complex skill.
A computer programmer, also called a coder, is a person who writes code to instruct computers to do particular jobs. Computers can perform a wide range of tasks to accomplish a job efficiently. For example, computers can perform mathematical calculations; store and retrieve large amounts of information; analyze data to identify trends; and display graphics. To get a computer to perform such tasks, a programmer must be able to write and debug code. Debugging code involves identifying and fixing any mistakes—called bugs—that prevent the code from working properly. A programmer must also be able to organize the code's structure in such a way that the code works accurately and efficiently.
So, how do we teach our children how to code, and why is this so important?
Living in the 21st century, children are growing up in a digital era, and coding is a skill that can be used every day. While many people see coding as a highly technical skill, it is, in fact, another form of literacy. There are so many benefits of coding for students that go much beyond the use of a computer. Having children learn how to code at a young age not only sets them up for a lifetime of success, but helps with communication skills, problem-solving, creativity, math skills, writing, and boosts confidence.
Many resources are available for children at any skill level who are interested in learning to code. They include interactive online courses and video tutorials. Many toys and games on the market today make it fun for kids to learn the basics of coding. Some toy robots, such as Cue and Sphero, can be programmed to perform a variety of functions. Children, teens, and adults can build and program their own robots using Lego Mindstorms kits. Players who design their own games in the electronic gaming platform Roblox can learn simple coding sequences to add to the complexity of their creations. Scratch is another programming language for children and teenagers that allows them to make games and videos.
Kids who wish to learn coding and computer basics can explore our Building Blocks of Computer Science book series. In the newest installment of our popular Building Blocks series, join Al, Stack, Tasky, and other colorful characters in a graphic-novel style adventure into fundamental concepts in computer science. Developed in consultation with a coding bootcamp, this series makes complex computer topics engaging and accessible. Also includes online access to downloadable computer science activities that support and enhance learning!
Series titles: Algorithms, Coding Languages, Debugging, Hardware, Logic in Coding, Order in Coding, Organizing Data, and The Internet.
“World Book’s new graphic nonfiction series depicts the wonders of computing and includes an array of characters related to computer science, such as Chip, the computer chip, and Bug, the programming error. Each character takes readers through different worlds, from physical hardware to core concepts related to coding like debugging and algorithms. These titles are rich in technological vocabulary without overwhelming readers with computer jargon. The text also respects readers’ intelligence by connecting the concepts to everyday experiences, such as gaming.”
School Library Journal (November 2020)