Most Millennial and Gen X parents are very well aware of the importance of STEM education for their children’s future. But despite being aware of it, many parents don’t know exactly how to apply the necessary changes for a headstart to their children’s education. We know that computer programming is vital to our children’s future job market - but what do we do about that today? How do we get our children interested in a future they cannot yet see? Here are 4 tips to help you introduce coding to your child by harnessing their own natural curiosity!
Before you buy any apps, software, or school tuition, first decide what role you want to play in your child’s coding journey. Do you want to be the teacher, the parent, or both? Depending on your schedule, your patience level, and even your desire to teach, the best options for your child’s coding education can vary widely.
Not every parent wants to take on a teaching role, and not every parent wants to be hands-off with their child’s education. What works best for you, your family, your schedule, and your child? Determine early on if you want or need a more hands-off or hands-on approach with your child, and choose your learning materials based on your decision. This will help you to avoid long-term frustrations and losing your investments.
Once you determine what role you will play in your child’s education, you’re ready to start determining what programs and materials will work best for your child. But regardless of what role you want to play, how old your child is, or what your budget might be, one thing doesn’t ever change -- Children learn best when they’re having fun!
If you have preschool or elementary-aged children and you aren’t thrilled about more screen time, you might be surprised to know that your children can still learn coding principles without a device. There are lots of toys on the market today that have been designed with you in mind, like coding toys from Learning Resources. From coding playsets to board games to critical thinking games, Learning Resources offers a wide range of products to help your child learn the basics of coding in a screen-free environment.
For devices, apps like CodeSpark Academy, Hopster Coding Safari, and Tynker utilize play in entertaining ways to help children learn how to code. By using coding blocks, storylines, graphics, and animations, today’s apps are sure to entertain any child long enough to teach them basic coding. By creating early associations between play and learning, most children are more likely to enjoy coding in the long run.
If you have teens, don’t avoid their love of computer games like Roblox and Minecraft -- embrace it, and use it to help guide their education. Kids can easily transition from players to creators with online classes like Codakid. With Codakid, teens can learn how to program games like Roblox and Minecraft. By utilizing something they already love, you won’t be stuck with the painful job of constantly motivating them through their learning journey.
Regardless of what program and materials you choose for your child’s coding journey, one of the most impacting things you can do for your child’s learning abilities is to have short, intentional learning sessions each day. Repetition is key to learning any new skill, and an overload of information will only create frustration and overwhelm.
Your child can learn new coding skills in as little as 15 minutes a day. As you allow your child to have fun, learn, and explore new coding concepts in their own time, you won’t be burdened with motivating them to learn more. Support your child by asking questions, helping them to think critically about what they are learning, and encouraging them as they make new connections in their coding journey.
If your older child is resistant to all of these introductions to coding, perhaps giving them a different perspective will help them see the relevance in learning to code. You can help make their coding education relevant by introducing them to problems they can solve for themselves and others with their computer programming skills. Introduce them to companies, job markets, and current problems in the world that computer programming can help solve.
One of the most empowering yet frustrating aspects of parenting is teaching our children how to prepare for a world that isn’t relevant to them in any way. Because children do not have as much past experience in life as we do, our words and warnings are not translated easily to younger children. By harnessing the power of play in their learning, we can avoid battles over what we know and what our children want to learn, and help guide them in the best direction for their futures.
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It is undeniable that technology will continue to expand and grow and fill our lives more and more as time goes on. By equipping kids with the coding languages, logical thinking, and visionary perspective to improve their lives, you’re giving them more than just an in-demand job skill -- you’re giving them the tools to create their future!