So you want your child to start coding, but they are four and must be too young, right? The good news is they can actually start right away!
The earlier you start your child out learning code, the better.
Our world revolves around computers, and it is constantly progressing. Computers are the future, and your child can be an expert coder by the time they get to college, ensuring them a career one day. It may sound early to start thinking about their future career, but one can never really start too early.
Here are four coding concepts for a four-year-old, resources to help your child learn, and how to teach them to code.
4 Coding Concepts a Four Year Old Can Actually Understand
Let’s look at four basic coding concepts children as young as four can learn, and how to teach them:
- Logic. In reference to coding, logic is how the task is arranged and structured. Start simple and build from there.
- Decomposition. Coding is all about breaking problems down into smaller, logical parts to come up with a solution. Computers have to be told everything we want them to do, step-by-step, so you have to break it down.
- Sequencing. The specific instructions given to the computer must be in a specific order, of which it will not work.
- Patience. Learning code can be very frustrating and challenging, so patience is so necessary. Coding is problem-oriented, meaning it takes a lot of trial and error to break down the problem and keep trying until you find a solution.
There are many ways to teach kids to code, but young kids need to be engaged, or they will lose interest.
Here are four ways to keep your young child excited about learning:
- Variety. Because young kids have a short attention span, you have to change it up to keep them interested. Use a variety of activities like games, apps, videos, and books to keep your child engaged and build a great foundation. Be sure to take plenty of breaks and if they ever get stuck or frustrated, always have them walk away and come back to it later.
- Offline activities. It is great to get kids unplugged and get them up and moving. You can build a LEGO maze, blindfold your child, and direct them through the maze until they reach the end. Letting children get their energy out in a creative way will help improve their focus and help them stay excited about learning.
- Creativity and letting them make mistakes. Mistakes are part of learning and letting kids make their own helps them want to learn what not to do and how to do better next time to bring their creations to life. Allowing them to make mistakes and get frustrated also teaches patience and resilience, which will be skills they will need forever as a programmer.
- Fun. For a young child to want to learn something like coding, it has to be fun. Focus on all the possibilities of creations and pick a project they can get excited about. Help them build and program a robot or create a fun game. Keeping the end goal in mind will keep them engaged and have them excited to work out the problems to bring their imaginations to life.
How to Help Your Child on Their Journey
Now that we have discussed how to keep them engaged, you may want to check out Ucode’s parent’s course to learn how to support your child on their journey and answer any of your questions.
Unfortunately, we do not currently offer any courses for kids younger than six, but we hope you can get your child engaged in a few other learning options until they are old enough to get started in a couple of years at age 6 with our Introduction to Coding Course.
For kids this little, we think sticking to introductory type learning through fun games may be the best option to spark their interest and start teaching concepts.
Once your child is a little older, we offer a variety of live courses to keep your child engaged and excited about learning. It is also crucial that your child is able to read and write to really start writing their own code.
Offline activities may be the best option currently, and they will have so much fun playing learning games with you.
How to Teach Kids to Code
Here are a few helpful things to teach your child to make their experience learning how to code easier and more enjoyable, both at this young age, and as they get older and begin to dive into actal programming.
- Define coding. Help them understand that coding may sound scary, but it is simply giving the computer a list of instructions in a particular order to ensure a specific outcome. Coding is responsible for anything they do on their phones, tablets, computers, and gaming systems.
- Get kids excited about learning to code. Kids have different interests, and that may not include coding, especially if they are little. Use things they do enjoy to get them excited about coding. Maybe they love LEGOs or robots, build and program a robot made out of LEGOs. If they love a particular game, encourage them to make one similar but with their own imaginations. The possibilities are endless, and we are sure you will be able to find something your child loves that they will get excited about creating.
- Ease kids into coding. Start small and simple as not to overwhelm them. Start by using a drag and drop program since your child may not yet know how to read; this will teach them the basics and allow them to see how they can create things by telling the computer what to do. Next, move on to something more challenging and add a few more concepts to what they know. Before you know it, they will be writing their very own code.
- Make coding tangible. Some kids learn better hands-on, so try a coding kit where they get to build something and hold it in their hands; this may help bring the concepts to life for them.
- Get an expert’s help. As your child progresses in their knowledge and understanding, they may reach a point where you can no longer help them. Luckily there are plenty of online resources and life chat rooms where experts are available to answer their questions.
We hope this guide helps you get your child started with programming in a fun and exciting way. Remember, all kids learn in different ways and different paces, so be patient with your child and give them all the resources they need to thrive.
Coding is an incredible skill, and we know your child will be successful in any field they choose down the road. Starting kids out this early will highly benefit them, and you are giving them the best head start in life.