Before we answer this question, let us first understand what kids should really learn in their early childhood to have the best overall development and to be best placed for their future. From the moment children are out of their wombs, they are learning tons of stuff about our world. Children in their early five years should largely learn gross motor skills, fine motor skills, language development, emotional development, physical development, and cognitive skills. Post five years of age, the focus shifts to early reading, early writing, mathematics, building stuff, creative arts, outdoor sports, music and technology. This is the age when we sow the seeds to build the personality, thinking, and behaviour of our children.
STEM Education as the building block for child’s success
While teenagers grow and get into a varied set of streams from biology to architecture and from linguistics to psychology, researchers, academicians, and industry experts have observed that there are four core streams that influence our success the most and it helps solve the problems of the world effectively, and those four streams are science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). No matter whether you choose to study politics or psychology, what it says is you have to be reasonably good at problem-solving, creative-thinking, and logical-thinking to succeed in any field. Hence, the most important skills children should learn must be centred around these three abilities. And, coding is right at the convergence of these three most important skills.
Coding Programs for Kids
Coding is essentially about giving instructions to computers in a logical way and in a specific language. It is to be able to imagine a large problem you want to solve, break it into smaller problems in a sequential manner, and write instructions to solve these smaller problems. So, coding is not about syntax but it is entirely about learning to solve problems.
A high-quality coding program for kids such as UnicMinds integrates these areas in the curriculum while teaching and inspiring each child in a customised way. Different people are smart in different ways, and hence, education shouldn’t have a “one size fits all, whoever doesn’t fit is dumb” approach. So, the curriculum and the teaching methodology should have a lot of scope to customise teaching for each child based on his or her culture, interests, and hobbies. Often many popular coding programs are just blunt repetition of teachers doing things or copy-pasting the code that the teacher wrote to get an output. That is no good to children even though the child feels he or she has built the app or the program. Essentially, the child just copy-pasted the code and clicked the run button. Parents should be cautious of popular programs such as these for children.
The focus in a coding program for children should be to provide children the nuts and bolts of programming first, and then help them write programs to build various applications, websites, and games. For example, an exercise to write a program on the tic-tac-toe game will integrate mathematics, logical thinking, designing and creative visualisation in the process of imagining the game and breaking it into smaller program sets. The key is to help children enjoy the process of building things and develop the patience to debug or solve each piece of the puzzle slowly and sequentially. Similarly, a child writing code to understand the frequency of words in a paragraph will first write the algorithm (simple set of instructions) on a piece of paper or document to establish the approach required to solve the problem. Therefore, learning coding is not just applying mathematics with syntax – it is much more than that. Learning mathematics doesn’t always teach every kid to applicatively solve problems, only very few kids can really apply mathematics for real world problems at a young age. Coding is more about teaching to approach problem-solving by using mathematics and logic and it expedites the ways to apply mathematics to real-world problems than learning only mathematics.
Children enrolled in coding programs often start from the basic block-based programming languages and move up the understanding ladder to write text-based programs in object-oriented programming languages and learn game development environments. All this while learning the key algorithmic thinking skills and mathematics needed to break down complex problems into simple digestible pieces of logic. Students love to understand the integration of mathematics and computer-science in its beautiful way in courses such as Computer Mathematics and Computer Networks.
Engaging in a full breadth of coding programs will provide a well-rounded development for children to develop useful algorithmic-thinking, problem-solving, mathematics and creative skills for life-term. Often it is important to make children aware of new age inventions such as DALL-E (see here) and search engines, and provide children the basics of how these are actually built in simple projects at the level of a child. For a system to separate one type of data from another, the system should rely on probability and use the probability to classify into different groups. One on one mentoring and guidance through these projects and learning will build confidence and give them the tools and integrated knowledge they need to make their own ideas come to life. For example, teaching children how the mathematical concept ‘logarithms’ is used to work on large numbers in your code excites children about the real application of logarithms rather than putting logarithms in mathematical equations that children cannot imagine yet. And, learning about that in a coding program at UnicMinds will have a bearing on the child in understanding logarithmic distributions and probabilistic distributions later in his or her life.
Prepare children for the future
From gravity batteries to quantum computing (see here), the future is going to be a lot different than what we can project organically because knowledge is widely available everywhere and the future is more about what areas of knowledge you can practically apply to solve problems. In our current world, we are more driven with one area of expertise. The future may not be driven by one area of expertise anymore as knowledge is becoming extremely easy to access. For example, you may have a product designer who has studied design but he will be using his programming skills to work with an AI program to build designs and architectures. So, it is important to introduce children to top coding programs where they can solve multiple complex problems, gain fundamental understanding of the world around them, and learn new age technologies in a simple and customised way of inculcating the fundamental first principles of thinking and problem-solving.
Hope this is useful, thank you.
If you’d like to learn more about our courses for kids, please click on www.unicminds.com.