By Michael Hilkemeijer
These days, every generation of children are exposed to digital technology as they all grow up in a technology-dominated world. They all have such a profound influence on their lives which is one coding in early childhood education is just as important for them to learn maths and how to read. Coding activities for kids can set the foundation for helping them start to think like a computer programmer and to use computers in a creative way in their lives.
Learning how to code gives young children the ability to understand their digital world. According to Douglas Rushkoff, a digital literacy advocate from Codeacademy.com:
“As I see it, code literacy is a requirement for participation in a digital world. When we acquired language, we didn’t just learn how to listen, but also how to speak. When we acquired text, we didn’t just learn how to read, but also how to write. Now that we have computers, we are learning to use them but not how to program them. When we are not code literate, we must accept the devices and software we use with whatever limitations and agendas their creators have built into them.”
5 other reasons why Preschoolers need coding
Programming helps children learn to problem-solve
One of the advantages of integrating digital technology in early childhood education is that it helps young children understand computers and the basics of coding which in turn enables an appreciation of how things work.
Going further than this it teaches them how software engineers use maths to solve problems in a logical and creative way. The ability to problem solves while young enables children to use these skills throughout their life.
Computer programming challenges children intellectually
As a result, they develop resilience as they learn to ‘debug’ codes in a fun way. Learning to bounce back after failure helps to serve as another learning opportunity and this is another important reason to code.
Additionally, being challenged intellectually develops ICT capability and sets them up 21st century skills.
Coding teaches children how to think
Being challenged intellectually also promotes higher order thinking skills. Coding teaches young children how to think differently. To think logically. It is important for them to see a large problem and to break it down into smaller pieces to solve it in an effective manner.
Coding promotes creativity in early childhood education
Creativity has its own place in the early childhood learning environment and when young children learn how to code it helps them experiment and to be confident in their creative tasks.
Throughout this process, young children have the chance to create something completely authentic and is entirely their own.
Computer programming is the future
Technological development is growing rapidly every year and so coding is an extremely useful skill to have. More businesses and companies today rely on computer code than ever before. This makes those children who learn how to code have the advantage over those who don’t in the future as there will be more opportunities for employment.
How to Introduce coding to preschoolers
This is one of the most frequent questions that I am asked and as a result, I have included it in my free online pd for early childhood teachers. You can see a preview of it below. However, to add to this when it comes to coding in early childhood education you need to first lay the foundations for children to think like a computer programmers. This can even be done without a computer.
Coding for preschoolers is best introduced through fun hands-on games and activities that make young children think like computer programmers.
The ones that promote logical thinking and have a problem to solve.
Learning while playing in early childhood education is a well-known strategy and it too can be applied here.
7 fantastic ways to easily teach and learn coding today
Here are some ways you can teach coding in early childhood education (Teachyourkidscode.com).
Go on a treasure hunt
This requires skills that computer programmers use when coding. The children can follow instructions and directions to find their treasure. As a result, this will teach children about algorithms which is a set of instruction to help a computer perform a specific task.
No prep required just simply place the treasures around the room or garden then write up a set of instructions.
If mistakes are made, then they must go back and start again (debug the code!) until they find where the treasure is hidden.
Solve a maze
A child can develop resilience when they follow a maze. When mistakes are made and go the wrong direction then they need to go back and try again until they another path to follow.
You even make it a little trickier by adding a blindfold maze.
Another great idea is to tell stories to help preschoolers develop coding skills. You could break it up into pieces perhaps by picture, mix it up, and then get the young children to put it back in the right order.
These add a great way for young children to learn problem-solving skills as they essentially are giving them a problem to solve.
These are also great for encouraging skills in problem-solving as well as nurturing creativity in early childhood education.
In addition, logical thinking is also promoted in this type of activity as the children need to think about how and if the blocks can balance and where to put them to do so.
We all know how fun Lego can be playing with it. My daughter loves it and continues to get new sets for her presents. They are a great way of learning coding skills as they need to follow instructions and once again, if mistakes are made then they have to go back and start again.
I tell my daughter this all the time when she comes to me for help. Go back over the instructions and find out what you left out or did wrong. Building instructions is a foundational coding concept.
Games that use maths
All throughout this article I have spoken about problem-solving activities and there none better than those games that use mathematical skills. They are great for coding activities for preschoolers.