A guest blog submitted by Debbie Denard with Nanny.net
The exponential growth of computer technology has brought us from computers that took up entire rooms to hand-held devices that are even faster and more efficient than their bulky counterparts, and all in a very short period of time. Parents and teachers alike know that the next generation will need to have advanced technological skills to compete in the workplace, and the basics should be learned at an early age.
Young minds are fertile ground for planting the seeds of computer programming skills. By the ages of 11 to 13, kids are gaining the analytical skills they need to solve complex problems. If you want your children to learn the basics, here are 10 ways to teach young kids to write computer programs.
- Games – There are several fun games that teach kids how to write programs without them even realizing it. Magic Pen, Auditorium and Fantastic Contraption are problem solving games that kids enjoy playing while simultaneously learning. Other games like Light Bot and Mindrover teach basic programming skills.
- Logo – A computer language designed for kids, Logo is easy enough for even 7 year olds to learn. Children give commands to make the turtle on the screen do whatever they want. There are free downloads and tutorials to help them learn basic programming.
- Legos – Kids love playing with Legos from an early age and as they get older Lego Mindstorms teaches them how to build robots. This robotics kit has them using their imaginations to build some interesting stuff. The simple graphical language helps young kids to use meaningful programs and see the results in their own creations.
- Phrogram – Formerly known as Kids Programming Language or KPL, Phrogram comes with a lot of sample programs that can do things that range from simple to complex. Children can use this to make fun games, design digital art, or build math and learning skills.
- Scratch – A fun way for kids to learn about computer programming is to have them create their own online games. Scratch is a language for kids developed at MIT that teaches them to write computer programs, see how they operate, and have fun doing it.
- Alice – This animated program was developed to encourage more girls to get excited about computer programming, but boys love Alice too. By using drop-down menus, there’s no need to learn code while learning the basic concepts of writing programs.
- Visual Basic Express – Older kids who want to advance their programming skills can use Visual Basic Express to learn how to use code. It helps to already know programming languages, but isn’t completely necessary. Children aged 10 and up will learn to key in data and then do something with the data they entered.
- Python – Another cool tool for kids to learn how to program computer games is Python. This free online book uses a powerful high-level programming language for youngsters who have already mastered the basics.
- Codeacademy – An interactive and fun way for kids to learn computer code is to use Codeacademy.com. This online tool helps kids to create websites, games and apps while competing and learning with their friends.
- Java – To really master their computer programming skills advanced students should use Stanford’s free online Java class. Kids will need to learn Java if they ever plan to take the AP Computer Science Exam. They may need a little help at first, but will soon become so engaged that they will be completing assignments on their own.
Most people know how to use the computer technology that’s already been developed, but few know how it really works. By teaching kids at an early age, they can gain the knowledge and skills they need to write their own programs and have fun doing it. By the time they reach adulthood, they will be ready to advance that know-how to compete in the technology based world we live in. Maybe your child will become the next Bill Gates or Mark Zuckerberg. Who knows?
Image Source: JayIsGames