5 Reasons Why Coding Is a Good Investment in Your Child's Future

As technology becomes ever more ubiquitous in our lives and the lives of our children, we spend more time keeping up with advancements in apps for smartphones, laptops and other devices. Kids spend more and more time online - both in school and afterschool - and parents are left to find a balance between what is educational and enriching and what is merely mindless entertainment.

Learning to code helps to lay the groundwork for your child’s future - not only as nearly every career requires computer literacy, but also fosters problem-solving and critical thinking skills. Our kids are digital natives; understanding how computers work and process programs (apps) truly sets them up for their future as digital citizens. As more aspects of life are conducted online, understanding the possibilities and limitations of technology will enable our kids to move more fluidly and make better decisions in a tech-rich environment.

Here are 5 reasons you should plan to teach your son or daughter to code from an early age:

1. Exceed the Standards - Problem Solving Algorithmically

Nationwide, school districts are adopting standards that require students to develop a proficiency in Computational, or Algorithmic Thinking. Computer languages come and go, but the ability to be able to solve a problem with an algorithm - break the problem down into required steps, apply necessary logical tests, and determine when it is finished - is included in all states. Once a student can do this, learning the language in which to implement it is important (see below) but relatively easy. The meaning and problem solving - the semantics is what is important.

2. Understand the Limits and Opportunities of the Technology that surrounds us

It is important to understand what technology is currently capable of, and what its limits are. This helps us to identify current and future opportunities and prepare for changes in our lives and career paths. Taking an algorithm and implementing it in a particular programming language (moving from semantics to syntax) means that we grapple with the limitations of the devices we are operating on. When we move through the world on these devices, we understand what is possible and we can ask questions about data collection, storage and transmission. Additionally, we may notice gaps in these processes which may expose us to fraud or injury, and identify opportunities for growth and solutions. We become responsible digital citizens and leaders.

3. Programming Nurtures Creativity and Confidence

When you can solve problems computationally, it becomes an innate process. Identify a problem, break it down into doable steps, then complete the steps. Repeat. This way of thinking supports and encourages creativity! Many more solutions become accessible, and many more problems solvable. The world opens up. Whether you are creating a work of art, composing music, building an engine, or coding an app, you understand how to think logically, how to identify (and overcome) barriers, where decisions need to be made, and how to break down the solution into doable chunks. You have also translated the logic into a working programming language, so you have discovered how to achieve the steps within the limitations of whatever medium you are using. These skills are generalizable and transferrable. This creative process stays with your child forever.

4. Coding helps Kids develop Flexibility and Resilience

Programming requires concentration, flexibility, and resilience. In order to develop a successful algorithm, a child must understand a problem or question enough to find possible solutions and articulate them. Often, when programming, one of the first things we learn is that we do not understand the problem sufficiently. We have to go back to the drawing board and look at the problem either from other perspectives or more deeply to successfully find a solution. Then, as we turn our solution into code, we bump up against the limitations of our “medium” - whether it is a programming environment or a particular programming language. If our program doesn’t work as we desire, is there a problem with our logic or just our syntax? Are we using the right commands at the right time? Do we have the proper data to complete this particular step? With the right tools, such as AgentCubes online, learning to program develops skills in logical thinking and organization!

5. Coding Can Improve both Academic Performance and Social Skills

Whether your child is creating 3D Games or scientific simulations, they are learning important problem solving skills that can improve academic performance across a broad spectrum of subjects. Studies have shown that the computational thinking involved in coding can improve a student’s performance with multi-step problems encountered in advanced math. Additionally, the logic kids learn in conditionals, looping, and data organization help with math skills in lower grades as well.

Once a child has created a game or program, we know kids like to share! If they create a game, can their friends beat it? Do their friends like the characters they’ve made? They like to collaborate on creating and improvements as they have more ideas. They enjoy teaching friends the new skills they have learned. Each of these processes improves confidence and builds social and teamwork skills. Teachers support group work in coding for just this reason. We’ve observed that sometimes the most advanced coders in a class are the kids who might not be the most socially connected and when they have an opportunity to share their expertise, other kids see them differently and new connections are made.

After so many years of teaching kids to code, we could go on and on about the wonders we’ve seen in the classroom; the creativity that is sparked, the eyes that light up and the engagement that is fostered. Teaching kids to program is a joy for us, and our tools reflect the best practices we’ve found to engage kids and bring them skills they will use no matter what their bright futures hold!