Coding for Kids: The Why & How

Resources for parents in 2019

Coding is the method of giving instructions to a computer to perform a specific task. You may have also heard it referred to as “software programming” or “computer programming.” These instructions are communicated using a “computer language” that computers can understand. These languages include visual blocks, Java, Python, and C. Learning to code expands problem solving and critical thinking skills, making it a great opportunity for kids to build those skills while young.

Tynker - Coding Made Easy

Coding for kids begins with drag-and-drop visual programming. Kids connect blocks together to make programs. Visual programming teaches the fundamental concepts without typing or syntax. This places the focus on the logic behind the code. Once they’ve learned the basics, kids can transition to more traditional programming languages like Python, JavaScript or C.

From online coding courses and games to in-person coding instruction and offline learning, there are endless coding resources available. Kids shouldn’t miss the opportunity to practice coding skills!

Why should kids learn to code?

Tech Jobs of the Future Infographic

Technology has never been more prevalent in our lives. Code is revolutionizing every aspect of today’s world – think self-driving cars, robot-assisted surgery, social media, new jobs, and more. Picking up coding helps children become better architects of their futures.

But learning to code isn’t just about the ability to program a computer. Coding teaches important academic skills and builds crucial soft skills like perseverance and organization. It establishes valuable 21st century skills that can translate into a career.

Learning to code

Is it hard for kids to learn to code?

Tynker using code blocks, Python, and JavaScript

Helping kids learn to code may seem tough, but there are clever services that make it easy. For example, Scratch and Tynker provide innovative visual coding languages, making coding digestible and fun. Kids love to engage with their game-based approaches.

Coding requires a lot of typing and attention to precise syntax, and kids (who are just starting to learn) may get frustrated with syntactic issues and cryptic errors. Visual picture-based block coding eliminates the need for typing and syntax. Kids simply connect blocks to create games, animations and stories, allowing them to focus on the logic behind the code. Learning programming has never been easier or more fun!

How to teach your kids to code

Kids of all ages – from pre-readers to high-schoolers – can learn to code. The same fundamental concepts such as sequencing, abstraction, repetition, conditional statements, loops and functions can be introduced to kids of any age or experience level.

The range of coding education solutions spans far and wide! There are apps, websites, camps, and personal tutors teaching coding for kids, so it’s important to opt for the approach that works best for your child.

Websites like Scratch have development environments, allowing kids to make amazing creations by learning from the community.

Kids who need more guidance benefit from the structured and scaffolded coding curriculum offered by Tynker and Code.org. Those who prefer to learn with a tutor can learn to code at an after-school program at school, a Sylvan learning center, or at a summer camp.

Learning to code with Tynker is fun and easy!
Explore our award-winning coding courses

What are the best programming languages for kids?

There are many popular programming languages available to kids. Help your child select one based on their age and experience level. Visual programming languages are a great place to start! We recommend kids begin to learn to code with a block coding language like those offered by Tynker and Scratch. Once they’ve learned the basics, they can dive into text-based coding.

Tynker’s game-based courses make learning to code fun and engaging!
Explore our award-winning coding courses

Learn to code apps

These days there’s an app for anything – including coding for kids. There are apps catering to both pre-readers and older kids. Apps offer coding adventures and games to younger kids and provide the opportunity for older kids to build their own games and apps.

Learn to code apps
  • Picture-based block coding apps (Ages 5-7) - Play through coding challenges and coding games for kids or build simple apps in Tynker Junior and ScratchJr.

    Tynker Junior App

  • Text-based block coding apps (Ages 8-11) - Download Hopscotch or Tynker from the app store and learn to code by creating apps, games, and projects with text-based coding blocks.

    Tynker Junior App

Learn to code online

Enrolling in an online website is an excellent starting point for independent learners. We recommend solutions focused on making learning to code easy and fun for kids.

  • Game-based learning - Game-based platforms such as Tynker and the challenges on Code.org offer meaningful motivation to learn as kids complete game levels using coding.
  • Independent learning with Scratch - Scratch from MIT is a great way of getting started with code. Although there are no courses, there is a vibrant community to learn from.
  • Online courses - Enroll in a Python or JavaScript course on Code Academy or Tynker or learn to code with Processing on Khan Academy.
  • Build an app - Learn to build your own iOS app using Swift. Start with these Swift resources and get the Swift Playgrounds app by Apple.
  • Use a book - Learn by following along with books like Mission Python, Super Scratch Programming Adventure, or Coding with Minecraft.

    Coding with Minecraft book

  • Code with toys - You can learn to code with a toy such as a Parrot Mambo Drone, Sphero, LEGO Mindstorms, or the Harry Potter Kano Coding Kit.

Where can my child learn to code?

If you prefer live instruction for your child, explore camp and tutoring options. Some schools offer the opportunity for elementary and middle-schoolers to learn to code through in-class instruction or after-school coding classes.

  • Schools - Take advantage of any coding programs your school may offer. It is a great way to get kids involved in computer science and STEM learning at a young age.
  • Tutoring Centers - Enroll your child in an after school coding class if offered at your school, or at your nearest Sylvan learning center.

    Tynker Coding Camp

  • Camps - Participate in a summer camp such as IDTech, Camp Galileo or a Tynker CodeMaker Camp.
  • Tutoring Services - Hire a personal tutor from services such as Wyzant or Juni Learning.

What offline resources can help my child learn to code?

Kids can learn computing concepts without a computer or tablet device! Hands-on activities using crayons, playing cards and board games are excellent options to teach coding to kids.

  • Unplugged learning - Activities found via CS Unplugged teach kids computing concepts offline.
  • Board games - Preschoolers can learn to code using fun board games such as Robot Turtles!

    Robot Turtles

Learning to code has endless benefits! From preparation for the future to the development of soft skills and academic skills, there's a myriad of reasons for kids to learn to code. Thanks to the growing awareness around the importance of learning to code, there are endless opportunities to learn. Your kids can learn to code online with coding courses and apps, or they can learn in-person or offline. Choose the best solution for your child and get coding!

Get your child on the fast track with a coding education from Tynker!
Click here to learn more…