Why and how to teach programming basics in elementary school



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We all know that programming (or coding) is now as important as reading, writing, and arithmetic. Children not only need to learn programming skills to work as programmers and coders in the top MNCs one day but to survive and thrive in the era in which they are born and growing up.

One who can create digital media instead of just consuming it is the one who is really empowered in this age and era. Learning programming skills can help increase one’s problem-solving skills, teach perseverance to kids, increase their confidence, and give a boost to their confidence.

Coding is the language of the future. It is fun, collaborative and creative – Reshma Saujani, Founder of the Girls Who Code.

How can Programming help students in Elementary Schools?

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Programming helps students pick up several skills that make lives easier for them. Conditions and variables help them learn Math concepts and logical sequencing better. They learn problem-solving techniques as they work on a project and divide it into small tasks to solve it. Different collaboration and communication techniques are applied as students share their ideas and work with each other to complete a project.

Under proper guidance, the programming class also teaches students to handle criticism in a healthy manner, identify their errors, and fix them.

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It needs determination and perseverance to solve a programming assignment. Students also learn resourcefulness as they seek help for their programming assignments from experts online and offline – introducing them to the concepts like seeking mentors and developing their own power networks.

Introducing kids to programming at an early age – at the time they are still learning reading, writing, and solving math problems – help kids to absorb its basics early and teach them to be better readers, writers, and problem-solvers in the future.

How to teach Programming to young kids?

Young kids learn coding concepts better when they learn them through games. For example, kindergarten students can use Kodable. Children who are 5-to-7 years old may try their hands on ScratchJr which is available on both iOS and Android platforms.

Another great app to teach coding to children who are 4-to-8 years old is LightbotJr, which is essentially a board game where kids learn programming basics with the help of Robot Turtles. Code Studio is a free tool by a non-profit, meant for kids who are four to six years of age.

Tynker also makes excellent games for students in first to eighth grades where it employs a lot of English, Math, and Science to teach programming to children.

Teaching Coding to Children above 8 years of age

There are many applications which can teach coding to kids in upper elementary grades. Hopscotch, a free app available on the iPad, is a challenging game that requires children to plan and strategize well.

Many new tools are available to teach coding to children using blocks and visual coding techniques. Resnick and his team from MIT have developed a free online web-based tool called Scratch is an excellent example. It is a great app for beginners where kids can access an hour-long tutorial on how to program a holiday card. MIT App Inventor is an Android app which uses block-based coding techniques. However, it is a bit sophisticated and may be more suitable for high school students.

Some apps can help you send commands to robots, and can really keep students engaged for hours. Robot Commander app by Lego allows you to interact with your EV3  robots without connecting with a computer! Android apps such as NXT remote control apps created by Ferdinand Stueckler allows children to control to remotely control their NXT robot over a Bluetooth connection. Meccanoid by Spin Master Studios is yet another app that allows children to build an intelligent friendly robot that can play games with them and tell jokes.

Several books are also available in the market to help kids learn how to code easily.

Programming in schooling can boost up children’s creativity. The multi-player coding games can help them improve their teamwork. In case, students realize that they are interested in the field, coding is expected to offer them several good opportunities in the time to come.

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Ruchi Shrimalli
Ruchi Shrimalli
Ruchi Shrimalli is a Content Marketing Manager for transtutors.com, askIITians.com, GoAssignmentHelp.com, and several other websites. She is a writer and a journalist at heart and has been writing articles on various aspects of the Education domain since 2010. Her articles have been published at Shiksha.com, India.com, and Employment News among others.
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