Playing sports, learning an instrument or taking to the stage are extra-curricular activities proven to be essential to your child’s development. Participation in activities outside the classroom gives kids the confidence to interact with others outside their usual social circles whilst learning new skills and abilities. Above all, kids see it as a chance to have fun and unwind from the pressures and routine of their typical school lives.
With the misconception about the ongoing negative impact of access to digital technology, parents may not consider learning to code as an option for their children – when in reality, learning to code in a fun and community-based environment can be just as beneficial for children as kicking a ball around at football practice. With the festive break coming up, now may be the perfect time to sign your kids up to start learning the language of the future. Here, Bill Marsland, Director of Education at Code Ninjas, discusses how children as young as five can reap the rewards of coding as an extra-curricular activity.
What is coding?
We all know how much we’re surrounded by technology. Consider the daily school run: you might have a rear-view camera when reversing from your drive and, chances are, you will be held up by a red at traffic lights. When you’re running late, you may pull over and use your phone to let someone know. What do they all have in common? Coding.
Think of coding as a language humans use that computers understand, in order for them to carry out tasks. It allows us to communicate with our digital devices, but it also helps us manage systems such as morning traffic and generally makes our lives easier.
What are the benefits of coding for kids?
So, why is coding so beneficial? We’re all familiar with the advantages your child gets from participating in extra-curricular activities like playing football, such as teamwork, but how about when it comes to coding? Here are my top 5 benefits:
- Maths and problem solving: kids will naturally improve their understanding of mathematical principles and develop their logical reasoning skills, managing to break down larger problems into smaller, more achievable tasks.
- Creativity: coding pushes you to think with a creative and experimental mindset. It also gives you the opportunity to express yourself – designing an app, building a website or creating animations – coding allows kids to bring their imagination to life.
- Confidence and communication: coding empowers them to become the creators, not consumers, of technology. It can give a sense of achievement and ownership they might not get in the classroom. Collaboration is also necessary. Coding teaches kids that a problem shared is a problem halved and that working together as a team leads to success.
- Persistence and resilience: failing is a common part of the process when learning to code. Kids learn the importance of persistence, patience and resilience when faced with obstacles, helping them to develop the ability to grow and learn from their mistakes.
- Exposure to technology: we live in a digital world. Equipping your kids with the ability to understand technology gives them a solid foundation to navigate the modern world and can be beneficial in various future career paths.
Why is coding important for your kid’s future?
You’ve heard all about the benefits, but why is coding so important for your kid’s future?
- Digital literacy: Technology is everywhere so children now need to be digitally literate. When accessing it irresponsibly, the internet can be a dangerous place; learning to code often provides kids with awareness of how to be more cyber-secure. With today’s technological landscape it’s not unreasonable to think being digitally literate will be as vital a skill as traditional literacy.
- Transcending language barriers: Coding is a skill that people from different parts of the world can use to communicate and collaborate on projects. There might be several programming languages, but the core principles of coding are shared. This aspect is of growing importance, especially as we live in an ever more interconnected world.
- Career futureproofing: With the rise of AI, it is predicted that 25% of current job roles could be replaced, and a further two-thirds of jobs exposed to some level of automation, meaning it’s as important as ever to futureproof your child’s career prospects1. Learning to code gives your child the foundations to stand out as coding skills become increasingly relevant across various industries, not just in traditional tech-adjacent roles.
Coding is important for your kids because it’s much more than learning a specific programming language or participating in an extra-curricular activity; it’s acquiring a set of skills and mindsets that are becoming increasingly attractive and beneficial for the future.
So, at what age can kids start?
Coding is beneficial for kids now and important for their future. Brilliant! But when can they start learning? The answer is younger than you think.
At Code Ninjas, we offer programmes for children aged 5-14, but that’s not to say a child can’t begin to learn coding sooner. There is method to the madness; research has shown that children learn quicker and store more information. The science behind it points to an abundance of a neurotransmitter acid, GABA, in children’s brains meaning they learn more efficiently than adults2. With this in mind, when learning a valuable life skill like coding, it’s a perfect idea to start your child coding from as young as five years old.
At our Dojos across the UK, we are on a mission to empower young minds. That’s why we think coding is like giving them a key to unlock unlimited possibilities. Through our sessions children can develop their problem-solving, creativity and confidence to develop the superpower to shape the future and become the architects of innovation.
If you’re interested in what Code Ninjas has to offer, find a Dojo near you by visiting: https://www.codeninjas.co.uk/
1 Goldman Sachs, artificial intelligence and the workplace, March 2023.
2 Brown University, why do children learn more quickly than adults? Nov 2022.