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Why We Should Teach Young Kids How To Code | Touchstone Words

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Why We Should Teach Young Kids How to Code

By Shane Staret on 2017-10-08

For those who are reading who are programmers, think back to when you were first learning how to code. How old were you? If I had to guess, the youngest of you were probably about fourteen.


Personally, I was fifteen when I had my first introduction course to Java Programming, and with hindsight, I wish I had started much sooner. But as many of you may have experienced, there was not much encouragement to do so. My school district offered no programming courses before sophomore year and my parents wanted me to stay off of this “no good technological gadget” as much as possible while I was growing up.

But why is it that schools wait so long to introduce kids to programming? The technology industry is booming and has been for the last couple decades and the ability to program can get you into very lucrative positions. With programming skills becoming more and more important I think that it is essential that it is required to learn basic programming concepts in elementary school or middle school.

The major reason I believe it is so important to include a programming curriculum at such an early age is due to the fact that kids are very impressionable. Much of what we like and don’t like as an adult are due to our experiences during childhood. If your mom always took you out to eat at Chick-Fil-A or always bought you brand name clothes as a kid, that pattern may continue as you get older since you are familiar with those things. Likewise, you may have a fear of the dentist or the doctor if you had bad experiences with them when you were much younger. Establishing positive experiences with programming can leave a great impression and encourage kids to explore it as they grow older. It could eliminate the stigma that you have to be a “genius” in mathematics in order to be good with programming and cause many people who otherwise would not go into programming, to at least give it a shot.

 

Teaching kids how to code can also give them a jumpstart so that by the time they reach high school, they are already proficient with one or multiple languages and can explore more advanced programming concepts. I only have about three years of coding experience, yet I am able to design a simple website and create complex Java applications. Imagine if I had taken that Introduction to Java Programming course when I was eight or nine years old. I would have had the same understanding of Java, Python and HTML, CSS, and JavaScript as I do now, when I was only 12 years old. I cannot even think of the things that I would be doing right now if I had nine years of programming experience under my belt.

But probably the most important reason why programming should be taught early on is due to it being in high demand. The market for jobs involving programming skills is growing about 12% faster than the market average, and it is predicted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics that by 2020, there will be “1.4 million computer-science-related jobs available and only 400,000 computer science graduates with the skills to apply for those jobs.” That is insane! That means that if you are a person who has a background in computer science, you are in high demand. That is all the more reason to get young kids involved with coding and programming, as it will lead to more college kids choosing to strengthen their computer science skills as there is so much demand for someone with them.

Coming from someone who has been programming for a few years now, I truly think that it is a fantastic idea to get kids involved with coding. At least to give them a positive experience with it so that it influences them to explore coding and programming on their own and as they get older. There certainly is a need for people with programming skills, and it technology is an industry where people can make a lot of money, so I see no reason why we shouldn’t jump start kids interest in computer science and programming.

Programming Languages and Resources for Web Developers
Note, the easiest way for kids to start their coding journey is via web design programming. They should lean coding languages that are in use by millions of sites. HTML, CSS (or HTML5 & CSS3) PHP, MySQL, JavaScript (or JS frameworks like jQuery, Angular, React, Node, or Express) or MongoDB, Apache, Ruby on Rails, and Linux are all related to web design coding. For kids or teenagers  interested in learning more about web design and development, here are a list of step-by-step training guide articles: i- Become CMS specialist, ii- Become front-end specialist, iii- Become expert SQL developer, iv- Become expert PHP developer


Discussed coding languages are well suited for those interested in pursuing a career in web design and development; however, other options are mobile App design and development, system admin and software engineering. It is advisable to consult with an IT counselor to understand what options best fits your skills. For instance, if you want to be a software engineer, learning HTML and CSS might not fit the bill. Here is an excellent article for learning more on coding and technology career roadmap. Once you know what career path you wish to pursue, you can make a plan on what, when, and how to learn. There are lots of online resources for learning coding and technology in general. For teenagers and high school students, High School Technology Services offers variety of hands-on training. For adults and professionals, Coding Bootcamps and DC Web Makers Companies offer basic to advance project-based programming and technology classes.

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