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7 minutes reading time (1333 words)

Why We Should Encourage the Next Generation of Coders

 

Is coding still a 'thing' in schools?

  If you're anything like me, you'll probably be wondering what on earth coding is and why it seems to be so important in children's schooling nowadays?! Only the other day I saw a t-shirt advertised on Instagram (I know, right?! I'm well down with the kids!) and the slogan emblazoned on it read "Code Like A Girl." I'll be honest, after seeing the t-shirt I felt like I needed to perhaps pay a little more attention to what coding actually is and why it seems to be a 'thing' now, all of a sudden! Now you lucky people get to read the condensed (and rather simpler, more interesting version, even if I do say so myself!) of the research I found on coding.

Believe it or not, kids and teenagers alike are actually fantastic at learning to code, and this is partly down to all sorts of websites, apps, programmes and toys which have made coding much easier to learn. Learning to code from a young age inevitably gives children an upper hand in the future when choosing their career. It also opens gates to an array of opportunities that they may not have had open to them had they not learned to code.

  Nowadays, coding is widely and commonly used. Computer programming is essential in most modern jobs, as most jobs involve the use of computers, so understanding what goes on 'behind the scenes' is essential. Learning to code is akin to become more aware of how the world around us works.

  Coding also instills better problem-solving skills in children and teenagers. The process of coding itself is about finding solutions and rectifying mistakes. It can also involve breaking bigger problems into smaller pieces and acting upon them. Doing all of these effectively are skills in themselves, so it, therefore, enhances the general problem-solving skills of your child. Through coding, children and teenagers begin to understand that making mistakes is all part and parcel of a learning process, as they start turning their mistakes into codified results and sometimes even enjoy the process!

 Why bother to learn coding?

  Learning to code enhances creativity. Coding provides children and teenagers with a stage to awaken their ideas and explore their thoughts. By creating their own mobile app, video game or maybe even website, their creativity gains a huge boost.

Coding also plays an essential role in strengthening our children and teenager's academic skills. This is because it involves the knowledge and study of various mathematical topics, such as algebra, arithmetic, geometry and even trigonometry and calculus when you get to higher level coding. If your child or teenager has a particular passion for or talent in these subjects, coding will massively help them to succeed.

Many studies have proven that coding is beneficial when it comes to retaining attention and focus. It can enable better concentration as it is typically a task where you have to think deeply, immersing yourself in the task at hand and focusing 100% of your attention on it. This means coding helps children and teenagers to stay focused and work at deeper levels of concentration. This will inevitably benefit their schoolwork and will (hopefully!) lead to academic success. Coding propels our youth to keep cracking the codes, mastering them and executing them without errors so they can eventually do cool things like launch their own customised software.

  Now, we all wish our children and teenagers were more patient, don't we?! While we actively encourage this on a regular basis, it's also great to get a helping hand with it, isn't it?! Well, research shows that coding can actually make kids more patient and it encourages them to persevere with tasks that they may find tricky at first. To begin with, many children and teenagers get frustrated with coding and can become disinclined towards studying subjects such as computer science as, especially when they're starting out, they can face bugs they find difficult to decipher (computer bugs, of course, not sickness bugs, because none of us want that!!) As our young people gradually get to know and understand that errors and bugs are a part of learning new things, they learn to persevere and move on to higher level coding. Sometimes one piece of coding can take hours of work, where the coder spends hours trying to locate errors; this takes tremendous patience, but once it is solved, it gifts the coder with an enormous sense of satisfaction. I'm sure you'll agree, this would keep even the 'fidgetiest' child going and keep their patience levels high.

  Once upon a time (I promise I'm not going to tell you a rubbish story… as an English teacher I usually actively discourage students from beginning stories in this way!) coding was perceived to be a really nerdy and uncool thing. It was once considered to be a hobby of nerdy bespectacled kids (to be fair, I was one of these kids, so I'm absolutely not knocking them. It's simply a stereotype I'm using to illustrate my point.) This image of coding has, fortunately, now changed and it's often considered nowadays to be a thing of smartness and something akin to possessing a modern-day superpower! In particular, when teenagers find out that their favourite pastimes such as YouTube, Minecraft and Instagram are all a result of coding and software development, they realise having a good knowledge of it definitely won't hurt them. Once our young people become keen on developing their skills for things such as building real-time games, apps and software, they will end up taking pride in themselves and (hopefully) will have a huge boost in self-confidence. (Which, let's face it, modern day teens absolutely need in abundance!)

  The younger the child, the easier it is for them to grasp the skill of coding. Just like any other language, coding is an art from which is best-learned young. The more coding is put in to practice daily, the easier it is for kids to grasp it. Also, the younger our coders start, the more time they have throughout their lives to work on and hone the skill.

To the future, and beyond... 

  Recent statistics show that over 65% of our younger generation will end up taking jobs that currently don't even exist! I don't know about you, but as a parent myself, that statistic frightens me somewhat. Apparently, the majority of new jobs will require the use of technology and technical skills. Therefore, the children who have prior knowledge of computer science will, arguably, stand a better chance in the future job market than the children who don't. At the moment, coding is a skill that the majority of us lack, so your child having it at their fingertips to utilise for things in the future, such as in university applications or applying for prospective jobs, should give them an upper hand.

  Finally, and perhaps the most important point to make is that coding is fun! It is an extremely creative activity where anyone can develop their own apps, videos, games… the list goes on. Students nowadays are introduced to more interesting courses, when it comes to computing than we ever were. They are now taught skills such as making custom modifications to their favourite games like Minecraft, how to code their drones, how to build 3D games and so much more.

To conclude, encouraging your child or teen to learn code definitely has many benefits. Of course, it's important to remember we shouldn't force our young people to learn something they absolutely have no interest in, but if we actively encourage a basic interest they already have, who knows where it could take them? Plus, if they're showing a really keen interest, you could even hire an IT Tutor from Ash Tutors and really show your child that the sky's the limit!

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Sunday, 21 April 2019

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