Programming for Kids: An Introduction Guide

Published by UCode

In a fast-paced technological world, kids are learning younger than ever, not only how to use computers, tablets, and phones, but how to program them! 

 

A child may not be particularly interested in data processing, but they may like the idea of creating games, designing websites, or just playing around with programming as they learn. 

 

Learning how to code at a young age will give them a head start in life, no matter what career choice they make. Even the most basic jobs today require some sort of computer skills, and this will set them far ahead of other people their age applying for the same position. 

 

Luckily, kids pick up on information very quickly. They may not even understand how difficult a concept is when introduced early; it just becomes second nature. 

 

We want to help walk you through what programming is, the most popular programming languages, finding the best learning platform for you, and finding the best text editor. You will have the hang of this in no time, and see just how much fun programming can be! 


 

What is Programming: The Basics 

Before we do anything else, let’s make sure you as a parent understand what coding is. 

 

A computer is essentially a machine that stores and processes information. When you log onto the computer, it responds to your inputs because someone programmed it to do so. When you click the mouse or type on the keyboard, it sends information to the computer, and then it processes it and responds. 

 

To simply explain programming, it is the basic communication between humans and computers.

 

People speak languages like English, Spanish, Chinese, etc. This is the way we communicate and understand each other. The computer’s language is binary, which is a complex combination of ones and zeros. So when you program a computer, you are translating your language into the computer’s language so it can understand and then respond to the information you just gave it. 


 

  • Hardware and Software:  For a computer to work, it has hardware and software. The hardware are the actual physical components, while software is the internal processing parts you do not readily see. It has all the instructions, codes, programs, and more that make everything you want to do on your device possible. The two components work together seamlessly to give users an awesome experience, and both are equally important, and the device cannot function without both. 
  • Frontend and Backend: 
    • Frontend development is what the user sees on the screen. Creating a unique and practical user-friendly experience is one of the most important aspects of programming. 
    • Backend development is what makes everything on the frontend feasible. How fast is your website? How safe is it? Does it communicate well with other programs? These are just a few examples of what the backend does and why it is so important. 


 

What are the most popular programming languages?

  1. Java: This is one of the older, more established programming languages. It is used in universities and large-scale businesses.

  2. Python: This is a very user-friendly language preferred by many beginners. The syntax is simple and clear, so many newbies get started on Python.

  3. JavaScript: This is a text-based language for web development. JavaScript is foundational to all websites.

  4. HTML/CSS: While not technically programming languages, these are both extremely important for style and structure on the front end. 

 

When your child first starts learning to code, there is a natural progression from the easiest language to more challenging. This is a list of the most fundamental languages your child will be introduced to. As your child becomes more advanced, there are about ten popular coding languages in total. 

 

You can check out UCode’s course progression here to see how we implement a system that builds up your child’s knowledge from the basics to the advanced!


 

Coding and the Hands-On Learning Style 

Everybody is very unique, including in the way we learn. UCode offers many different coding courses for each age group, making it easy for parents and kids to engage in learning the material. Please remember that games are only a fun gateway to learning how to program and should be used only as that. As you get more experienced, you will want a more direct curriculum. 

 

We have all heard the saying, practice makes perfect, and that most certainly applies here. Teaching these tricky concepts will be hard for anyone unless they are learning as they go, doing real programming, and are able to learn from their mistakes. 

 

Be sure not to talk too much about the actual nitty gritty of computer science as your child is just getting started. As the parent or teacher, you will have to simplify these concepts to make it easy for your kids to understand as they’re novices to the field. Try to make it fun and relatable to kids, like incorporating their favorite shows or games and get them to think about what is causing the game work. 

 

Lastly, you may have to repeat yourself a lot so be prepared for that. Be clear and not too wordy when explaining concepts. Maybe try singing a silly song or reciting a phrase that is fun and easy to remember for your younger programmers. 


 

Choosing the Best Text Editor 

A text editor will be your very best friend as your child learns to program. This is how your child will get the practice of writing codes, and as we said before, hands-on experience is the best. 

 

Here is a list of the most popular text editors for beginners:

  • Brackets: This text editor is focused mostly on web development, so they can use it to code in JavaScript, CSS, and HTML (the languages of web dev)

  • Notepad++: This is one of the fastest, most lightweight text editors, known for being very basic and, therefore, excellent for absolute beginners. It supports multiple languages so they can try a few different languages out.

  • ATOM: This open-source text editor is designed for JavaScript, HTML, and CSS, so it’s a great choice if your child wants to learn web development.

  • Visual Studio Code: This editor was developed by Microsoft and comes with a lot of useful features. It can be used to code in Java, JavaScript, and C++. There are also extensions for other languages, like Python.

  • Sublime Text: This editor is much more stripped back to make learning easy. There are fewer fancy features to streamline the learning curve. Similarly, there are extensions for most programming languages. 


 

Getting Started 

Now that you know what programming is, the beginning framework, and key tools to being successful, it is time to put what you’ve learned into practice. 

 

The best way for kids to learn coding is through a live online coding class with live instructors. 



 

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